Renting an apartment in France

Last time, I told you about our new apartment. Now, I’ll tell you a bit about what the requirements for renting in France are.

I know, I know. This has been done plenty of times before, but I thought I’d share with you just in case. There were also some changes this summer to agency fees, so I wanted to share that with you as well in case an agency is trying to make you pay more than is allowed by law.

almost bilingue - renting an apartment in france

You can rent either directly though an owner (look at ads on sites such as leboncoin.fr) or through an agency (which of course has fees associated with it). I’ve done a combination of both in my time here in France, and we looked at both options when searching for our new place, but we fell in love with a place through an agency. The owners don’t live anywhere around here, so it makes sense why they’d offer the place through an agency.

Agency fees

Agency fees were capped this summer, and they can now only charge a certain amount per square meter. They can charge 3€/m2 for the état des lieux. Then, depending on the city can charge either 12€/m2, 10€/m2  or 8€/m2 for the fees. 

  • 12€/m2 (f0r zone très tendue = Ile de France) + 3€/m2 = 15€/m2 max
  • 10€/m2 (for zone tendue like Lille, Bordeaux, Nice, etc.) + 3€/m2 = 13€/m2 max
  • 8€/m2 (for everything else) + 3€/m2 = 11€/m2 max

You can read the official guidelines here. If an agency is charging you a fee that works out to be higher than those amounts for each square meter, they’re cheating you.

While this has helped to lower fees in Paris, it may actually raise them elsewhere, like in Lille (the general practice used to be about one month’s rent without charges). However, the agency can charge less, and luckily, ours did this or else we would have paid more in fees.

Income requirements

We’ll leave Paris requirements out of the equation, because they are normally ridiculous. Outside of Paris, most owners/agencies will require you to make 2.5x or 3x the rent (usually 3x). If you don’t make 3x the rent, you may be asked to have a guarantor (garant in French) who does fit these income requirements.

It’s important to note, however, that certain types of insurance the owners have on the apartment might not allow you to have a guarantor if you are salaried worker. This surprised us.

One agency we stopped in required at least 3x the rent and a garant for all of their rentals! That might be common in Paris, but certainly not in Lille.

Even if you fit the requirements or have a guarantor who does, it’s still up to the owner to accept your rental application or not.

Paperwork requirements

The general list of things you (and your spouse, partner, roommate) will need to provide is the following:

  • Copy of ID (French ID or passport)
  • Livre de famille (if married)
  • RIB
  • Last three “quittances de loyer” (proof of rent payments) or most recent taxe foncière (for those who own their place)
  • Work contract (or attestation from employer) + last three pay slips (other conditions for entrepreneurs or other professions)
  • Last one to two tax returns
  • For students, copy of student ID + attestation d’inscription (proof of enrollment)

If you have a guarantor, they must also provide these same documents. If the person is married or PACSed, both the husband and wife (or partners) must provide the documents.

Of course, each owner/agency may differ in their requirements, but we found that most agencies requested these items.

Have you ever been asked for something crazy when trying to rent an apartment/house in France or elsewhere?

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4 thoughts on “Renting an apartment in France

  1. Interesting about the insurance! I would have appreciated that back when I moved to Poitiers… our flatshare was really cheap and I made 6 or 7 times more than the rent, but the owner still wanted a garant! And he accepted my American parents which honestly was probably not even legally valid. It was ridiculous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That probably wasn’t at all enforceable! It really depends. Not all insurance excludes a garant. There was even one agency that wanted at least 3 times the rent + garant for all their rentals! Crazy! I forgot about that and will edit it into the post.

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  2. I know one of my friend’s parents who had to ask their own parents to be la caution! This was for a very sought-after place in Paris. This was crazy because 1) my friend’s parents were in their 50s 2) working for the French army (but apparently, in Paris they don’t get a logement de fonction, hence the need to rent.

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    • Paris is insane! The housing market is just ridiculous! Your story doesn’t surprise me. One of my former colleagues found it easier to buy a place in Paris than rent. She’s a teacher at a university (with a CDI) and her husband works in a very specific domain of engineering. While there’s ALWAYS work for him (and he’s extremely well paid), CDIs in his domain don’t exist so no owners even wanted to look at his info for renting.

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