This detailed guide explains the several ins and outs of renting French property, from tenant rights to home contents coverage.

Moving to France is an exciting adventure, but finding the right property can be time-consuming. Before you sign a French rental contract, a newcomer should be aware of certain rules regarding housing in France.

If you are relocating to France and need to find housing, renting is a popular option. Approximately 36% of the French population rents their home, which is comparable to the EU average. Many expats choose to rent, especially during the first few months of their stay.

So, just over half of those renting in France do so on the private market, and there are numerous websites, agencies, and brokers where you can search for and find housing. Accommodation types and prices vary greatly, as in many other countries. Large cities, such as Paris, are understandably more expensive than other parts of the country.

Like elsewhere in Europe, the housing market experienced a downturn after the 2008 global financial crash but has been steadily rising since 2015.

Contents hide

Popular Places To Rent In France

France is a varied country with distinct regional differences. Many factors influence where you live, including the lifestyle offered, employment opportunities, cost of living, and expat community life.

Some of France’s most popular destinations include:

Paris

The capital and economic centre of France is understandably popular with working-age foreigners. Like many capital cities, Paris is a cosmopolitan, culturally rich city and has a thriving city nightlife. According to the 2011 census, it is a multicultural city with slightly more than 20% of the population being foreign-born.

It is, however, the most expensive city in France. A three-bedroom apartment can cost up to €2,500 per month to rent.

Montpellier

Montpellier, located in southern France, has a slower pace of life than Paris while remaining culturally interesting, vibrant, and welcoming to expats. It’s a popular destination for British expats, with the city housing between 15-20% of the British population in France.

It’s also less expensive than Paris, with a single-bedroom apartment costing around €600-€650 per month.

Nice

Nice, located in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region, is a southern coastal city with a warm climate and stunning scenery. It is another popular French city for expats, particularly retirees who are seeking a slower pace of life. Although it is more expensive than Montpellier, one-bedroom apartments can still be found for around €750 per month.

Dordogne

This French department, located southwest of Bordeaux, is full of rural villages and picturesque countryside. As a result, it’s ideal for expats looking to get some distance away from busy city life. Many expat retirees visit for the weather, cuisine, and picturesque views.

Accommodation costs vary, but in general, living in the Dordogne is less expensive than living in any of the major cities.

Other Regions Of France Popular With Expats

  • La DrĂ´me in southeast France is a popular destination for Dutch and British expats (as well as tourists during the summer months). French country life is more peaceful and less expensive or bureaucratic than in the big cities.
  • Lyon, France’s third largest city, is known for its gastronomy and vibrant cultural life, but it has bourgeois traditions. Those can make it socially rigid.
  • Marseille, located on the Mediterranean coast, is a massive, bustling metropolis with a sizable foreign population. Although diversity has caused some social tensions, Marseille’s colourful personality has many fans.

Buying Vs Renting In France

While most people in rural France own their homes, it is common in cities to rent an apartment, even for extended periods of time. When deciding whether to rent or buy property in France, you should weigh the pros and cons and determine what is best for you.

For example, renting may be a good option if you are new to the country or are unsure how long you will stay. You have more freedom, less responsibility, and the tenant protections that France provides.

However, you will not have a place to regard as your own truly and may be restricted from making changes to the property. It can also be difficult to find affordable housing in some of the more desirable areas.

Buying can save you money in the long run and give you the freedom to renovate whenever you want. However, transaction costs in France are relatively high, at around 16% of the property value. This means that if you plan to move within the next 3-5 years, the additional costs of purchasing will most likely outweigh any profit you may make.

Renting In France 1

Types Of Property To Rent In France

In France, you can rent a variety of property types. If you are renting in the city, the majority of your options will be apartments or houses (Maisons). Maisons come in three varieties: detached, semi-detached, and terraced.

There is a greater variety of houses built in various styles in rural and suburban areas. Among the property types available for rent in France are the following:

  • Bastides are detached, square stone buildings with flat roofs that are typically found in rural areas.
  • Domaine – an estate property that typically includes additional land (for example, vineyards);
  • Ferme/Fermette – a country farmhouse with land attached.
  • The Pavillion is a French bungalow.
  • Longere – a long, rectangular one-story house, sometimes converted from a barn.
  • Mas – Provence’s traditional farmhouse

In France, you can find both furnished and unfurnished rentals. Short-term rentals are more commonly associated with furnished rentals. Unfurnished (vide) properties typically provide greater tenant protection, greater flexibility to make changes, and longer lease terms. Furnished (meublée) properties typically have a one-year lease, whereas an unfurnished property typically has a three-year lease.

In the past, French landlords attempted to pass off unfurnished properties as furnished ones to benefit from shorter contracts and fewer tenant rights. But, the French government has mandated that furnished accommodation meet certain criteria in order to be classified as such.

Bedding, cooking facilities (oven or microwave), crockery, fridge, freezer, kitchen utensils, lighting, tables and seating, storage shelves, and housekeeping equipment are all required by law.

Make sure that these are included if you make a decision to rent a furnished property in France.

Renting In France 2

Finding A Place To Rent In France

Rentals in France can be found through a variety of channels, including estate agents (agences immobilières), websites, and classified ads in newspapers. Rural properties can be difficult to find, both in person and online, so there is a chance you would have to work with an agent.

The living space is typically listed in square metres in advertisements. A small apartment is one that is less than 40 square metres in size, while anything larger than 100 square metres is considered large. This includes places like balconies and hallways.

Online Portals

You can find rentals on a variety of property websites that enable you to search by region, price, type of accommodation, and so on. Many are in French, but you can also translate them if you use a browser like Google Chrome. Some of the most well-known websites are:

Property Agents

In France, real estate agents are known as agences immobilisers. They handle a large portion of the rented property in France, and many expats, especially those renting for the first time, prefer to use an agent.

Many real estate agencies have websites as well as physical locations that you can visit. You may need to sign up for services and attend an appointment at your local branch in order to use them.

All agents in France are required by law to have a carte professionnelle, which certifies that they have the required qualifications and experience for the job. Most should be members of one of France’s three main professional bodies, which are:

  • Federation Nationale de l’Immobilier (FNAIM)
  • Syndicat National des Professionels Immobiliers (SPI)
  • Union Nationale de la Propriete Immobiliere (UNPI)

If you hire an agent, make sure they are a member of at least one of these organisations and can produce a carte professionnelle.

Fees for real estate agents vary. Most fees, however, are capped, and agencies should post a list of the correct fees in their office or on the website so you can estimate your costs. Some fees are split between the landlord and the tenant, while others are levied solely on the landlord, though landlords may consider fees when determining rent.

Renting In France 3

Agencies Specialised In Furnished Rentals

If you need furnished housing, there are agencies that specialise in furnished apartments and vacation rentals, such as Paris Attitude. These are usually for shorter periods of time than unfurnished homes, with leases ranging from a few months to a year.

Agencies Specialised In Expat Rentals

There are specialist expat agencies in France that provide English-speaking services and knowledge of the expat market. These are brokers with connections to a number of agences immobilieres in France.

Suppliers include:

  • Paris Attitude (use for apartments to rent in Paris)
  • French Property
  • Long Term Lettings

Student Accommodation

If you are living as a student in France, you can either rent a dorm on the university campus or look for private accommodation (either solo or as a flatshare).

Student halls are the cheapest option, but they are frequently oversubscribed, especially in cities like Paris, so make inquiries months in advance.

The CNOUS (Centre National des Oeuvres Universitaires et Scolaires) manages university housing, and there is information on their website about applying for on-campus housing as well as looking for private student housing.

Rooms in university halls of residence are as low as 120€ per month outside of Paris. The Private options are a little bit more expensive, but there are still plenty of low-cost options available. Try the following websites:

  • ADELE – The Association for Economic Development and Accommodation of Students
  • Residences Estudines
  • CLEF – Center for Student Accommodation in France ()
Renting In France 4

Flatshares

If you don’t mind living with others, flat sharing can be a great way to save money on housing. Many online portals, as well as student accommodation sites, allow you to search for flat or house shares. You can also use specialised websites like EasyRoomMate or Roomlala.

When looking for a flatshare, you must consider additional factors such as finding suitable people to live with, agreeing on cleaning rotas, and figuring out how to split household bills.

So, when renting a shared property, the contract should include the names of all tenants. Tenants may sublet rooms to others, which is legal, but it means that newer tenants have fewer legal protections.

If you rent a sublet room, request a written agreement that includes some of the fundamentals, such as rent amounts and notice periods. This doesn’t have to be long – just one side of A4 with key points to keep you safe during your stay.

How To Rent A Property In France

Renting In France 5

Renting Through A Property Agency

When renting in France, you will generally have to pay an administration fee if you use an agent immobilier. This includes agency work such as searching for and showing you the property, negotiating the tenancy contract, and handing over the keys.

In France, renting through an agency is typically more expensive than renting directly from a landlord. This is because the agency charges the landlord a monthly management fee (around 10-15%), which is frequently passed on to the tenant.

Typically, the agency will charge you a minimum of one month’s rent, a security deposit, and an administration fee upfront. Most agencies will conduct a credit check to ensure there are no outstanding debts, especially if the tenants are from another country.

Typically, you will be required to provide:

  • References from previous landlords, if you have previously rented in France
  • passport or valid ID;
  • Proof of earnings (usually three months’ worth of bank statements). If you haven’t been working in France for the last three years, you will probably be asked to provide proof of income.
  • proof of French residency status;
  • References from previous landlords, if you have previously rented in France

The full list of what a landlord can legally request (in French) can be found here. It is illegal for any landlord to request a bank statement. In exchange, a landlord must provide certain documents to the tenant, including a lead report, an energy rating and a risk/safety report for the property.

Renting Directly Through A Landlord

In France, renting directly from the landlord is known as particulier Ă  particulier. This is less expensive and simpler than renting through an agent immobilier, but it is riskier if not done correctly, so make sure everything is fully contracted.

Private landlord rentals can be found on some of the sites mentioned above. They can also be found on public noticeboards, local newspapers, and listing sites like ParuVendu.

Most rentals in France directly through landlords are unfurnished properties with longer (three-year) leases. This is due to the landlords’ desire to avoid dealing with multiple tenant turnovers. Tenancy agreements should be similar to agency contracts in terms of notice periods, deposits, and landlord responsibilities. If you are unsure about anything, have a solicitor familiar with French housing rights review the contract before you sign it.

Renting In France 6

Rental Costs In France

Monthly Rent

Rents in France vary greatly depending on factors such as region, neighbourhood, and property type. Furnished properties typically include bills in their costs, whereas unfurnished properties are typically advertised based solely on rental costs. However, it is not always this way, so double-check ahead of time.

According to Numbeo, the current average rent in France is:

  • €525–665 a month for a one-bedroom apartment;
  • €965–1,300 a month for a three-bedroom apartment

Costs are higher in larger, more populous cities. In Paris, for example, current average prices are:

  • €850–1,150 a month for a one-bedroom apartment;
  • €1,750–2,600 a month for a three-bedroom apartment

Rents are controlled in some areas of France where demand is high (zone tendue). On the official website, enter the zip code of the area to see which areas are affected. If you live in an area controlled by rent and believe you are being overcharged, you can ask for a reassessment.

Landlords are permitted to raise rents once per year, in accordance with inflation or as specified in the lease. Increases should not be higher than the change in INSEE’s quarterly benchmark rents (IRL).

Rent is typically charged upfront on a monthly basis. The most convenient way to do this is to opt for a standing order or direct debit from your bank, though your landlord cannot force you to do so.

Renting In France 7

Rental Deposit

Most agents and landlords will request a security deposit when you move into rented accommodation in France. This is to cover expenses like damage and unpaid bills.

The deposit should be no more than one month’s rent. It should be returned to the tenant by the landlord within two months of the lease’s termination, less any money owed for costs.

It is recommended that the deposit be paid into a shared escrow account that requires both the landlord’s and tenant’s signatures before the money can be withdrawn. Otherwise, obtain a receipt stating that the amount transferred is a security deposit (dépôt de garantie).

Agency/Administration Fees

Fees are usually associated with renting through an agency. Some of these are shared by the landlord and the tenant, while others are solely the landlord’s responsibility. When fees are split, the landlord cannot charge the tenant more than themselves.

Fees are capped for tenants, and the agency should clearly publicise them on their premises and websites. Current charges include:

  • admin work such as drafting the lease, tenant viewings, creating a tenant file, and – €8-12 per square metre
  • the inventory costs are split between landlord and tenant but should not exceed €3 per square metre
  • lease renewal – €8-12 per square metre

The landlord is charged for rental management costs, not the tenant. However, landlords may take these fees into account when setting the rent, resulting in higher rents.

Other Costs

You must budget for a variety of other accommodation costs when renting in France. These are some examples:

  • French utilities and telecommunications bills
  • Taxes such as property tax (taxe d’habitation) are examples. When you move into a French property, you must notify the French Revenue Service (Centre des ImpĂ´ts) so that you can be billed appropriately.
  • Insurance in France – Some landlords require that tenants obtain home insurance. Even if it is not the case, you should think about content insurance to protect your belongings.
  • Furnishings – if the French apartment is rented as unfurnished, you may need to budget for furniture such as tables, sofas, beds, and kitchen equipment.

Help With Costs

In France, there are three types of housing allowances. They are as follows:

  • Personalised housing allowance (APL);
  • Family housing allowance (ALF);
  • Social housing allowance (ALS)

More information on these allowances can be found here. You can also learn how to get help paying your rental deposit or acting as a guarantor for any unpaid rent and expenses.

Renting In France 8

Social Housing In France

France has a social housing scheme in addition to housing allowances and benefits for private sector tenants. In France, social homes are known as Habitations a loyer modere (HLM).

A law was passed in 1998 requiring every area to have 20% HLM stock, but this has not been met. Approximately 18% of French households currently live in social housing.

Both public and private housing associations provide HLMs. Many of these organisations, such as Paris Habitat, are regional in nature. Rents are typically reduced to 50-66% of market prices.

As in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, demand for social housing exceeds supply, and waiting lists are lengthy. To be eligible for HLM housing, you must earn less than a specific amount of money (based on the geographic area and level of need). Certain groups are given priority, such as:

  • homeless people;
  • families with young children or expectant mothers;
  • those with disabilities;
  • people in sudden financial difficulty

More information about applying for HLM can be found on the French government’s website. Visit the government’s housing website to register your request for social housing.

Tenancy Contracts In France

The written contract between the tenant and the landlord/agency is the tenancy agreement (contrat de bail). It should be signed on or before the first day of your tenancy. At this point, the tenant must pay the first rent instalment and deposit.

In France, tenancy agreements should include, at a minimum:

  • details of the property being rented;
  • landlord and tenant signatures
  • names of tenant(s) and landlord;
  • contract start date;
  • size of the property (unfurnished lets only);
  • duration of the agreement (e.g., one year or three years);
  • details on any other costs payable to the landlord (for example, utility bills);
  • rent and rental deposit amounts;
  • information on notice periods;
  • landlord and tenant rights and obligations;

Tenancy agreements should also include an attached condition report, inventory, and energy performance report. Unlike property sales contracts, the rental agreements do not need to be witnessed by a notary.

Unless the landlord or tenant provides adequate notice, your rental contract, whether unfurnished or furnished, will be automatically renewed.

Sample contracts for furnished and unfurnished rentals can be found here.

Tenant Rights And Obligations In France

The French legal system strongly favours tenants. Once the keys are handed over, the landlord has no right to enter the housing property without the tenant’s permission and can be charged with trespass or harassment.

Unless otherwise agreed in the rental contract, the landlord has no right to conduct periodic checks on the tenant, such as annual property inspections. They do, however, have the right to enter the property to perform essential works and routine maintenance (but not improvements to the property), and the tenant must grant this permission.

The tenancy contract should include complete details of rights and obligations. In general, the tenant’s responsibilities will be as follows:

  • Pay the bills and rent on time.
  • Adhere to the house rules as outlined in the contract
  • Perform minor repairs and routine maintenance, such as garden maintenance, basic interior damage repair, and minor plumbing, electrical, and gas issues
  • Pay for the repair of any damage they caused;

Subletting is also legal in France, as long as you have official written permission from your landlord and the sublease does not go above the amount paid by the main tenant. Major changes to fixtures and fittings usually necessitate the landlord’s approval.

Renting In France 9

Landlord Rights And Obligations In France

The landlord has every right to enter the property to perform major repairs or if the tenant has violated the lease terms. However, adequate notice (usually 24 to 48 hours) should be provided.

Landlords in France have the right invested in them to terminate a tenancy agreement if they can give good reasons, such as nonpayment of rent, but they must follow strict legal procedures.

If there are no termination clauses in the lease, the landlord must apply to the court for a judicial termination in the event of nonpayment of rent. The judge will evaluate the situation, including the tenant’s financial situation, and may issue a termination order. The tenant will be served with an order to vacate within two months of receiving the order, though judges have the authority to grant extensions. More information can be found here.

In general, landlord duties in France include the following:

  • carrying out major repairs as needed; 
  • respecting the tenant’s privacy by only visiting to carry out repairs and providing adequate notice when doing so;
  • providing safe and adequate housing;
  • If the tenant isn’t responsible for any damage, paying for the repairs and replacing broken equipment provided with the accommodation (e.g. washing machine); 
  • providing the tenant with a receipt document for rent paid;

Landlords in France are required by law to allow tenants to keep pets if they so desire.

Where To Go If There Is A Dispute

If you disagree with your landlord, you can get in touch with the CDC (Commission Department of Conciliation), which helps landlords and tenants resolve disputes. You can also contact ANIL (French only), the national housing information organisation that can provide free legal advice.

If you have a problem with your neighbours, you can register a complaint with the local authorities. For example, if they are regularly noisy or anti-social.

Utilities And Telecommunications In France

When renting in France, you will be responsible for setting up accounts for things like electricity, gas, internet, phone, and TV. It will depend on the residential property you move into and your tenancy agreement.

In some rentals, particularly furnished ones, the landlord handles these and bills you along with your rent. They should give you a breakdown of the costs.

Moving In And Moving Out Of France

You should receive the keys to your accommodation as soon as you sign the tenancy agreement and pay the first rent instalment and any other owed fees.

In addition to the tenancy agreement, the landlord should provide an inventory (Ă©tat des lieux) that describes the nature and condition of any property-owned items. Furniture, fixtures, and fittings are all included.

This will serve as the foundation for negotiations regarding the return of the deposit when you move out. You should not be charged for normal wear and tear, but you should return the property as found. If items need to be replaced due to wear and tear during your tenure, notify your landlord and request a replacement immediately instead of waiting until you leave.

Remember to check the inventory thoroughly before signing it, and note any inconsistencies right away to avoid them becoming a problem when you leave.

Moving Out

If either party wishes to give notice, it must do so in writing. This should be done by registered letter (recommender), by bailiff (hussier), or by hand with acknowledgement of documented receipt and annotation. Registered letters are available for a few euros at any post office.

In France, the minimum notice periods are:

  • Unfurnished rentals take 1-3 months from tenants (depending on the region and tenant circumstances) and six months from landlords; 
  • Furnished rentals take one month from tenants and three months from landlords.

So, landlords can only terminate the agreement if the tenant fails to pay the rent/bills, violates the contract terms, or if the landlord wishes to sell or reoccupy the property. Tenants are free to give notice at any time. Landlords must wait six months or less on the agreement. They can also go to court if they want to instead of waiting.

If there are any disagreements, your deposit must be returned to you within a duration of two months of your departure or within one month if there are no disagreements. If you have not received your deposit by this time, you may file a complaint with the Commission’s Department of Conciliation.

If you require assistance with your move or cleaning, it is often worthwhile to hire additional help. You could, for example, use an online platform like TaskRabbit to hire a helper or professional contractor.

Renting In France 10

Tips For Renters In France

  • When looking for a place to stay, use all available resources (websites, agents, classified ads, etc.) to increase your chances of finding something suitable, and be ready to sign quickly when you find one.
  • Before signing, read the tenancy contract to ensure your satisfaction and to become acquainted with the rules and obligations. If you don’t like something, request that it be changed or removed.
  • Take utility metre readings when you move in and out so you can avoid being charged for periods when you are not present.
  • If you’re worried about your rental costs, see if you qualify for social housing or housing benefits.

Useful Resources

FAQ

How Much Is The Rent In France?

Nationally, in 2021, French people spent an average of approximately 851 euros on renting a house and 435 euros on renting a studio or one-room apartment.

Can A Foreigner Rent A House In France?

If you are renting a house in France as a foreigner, you may be required to provide a guarantor. If your landlord requires a guarantor, they must be a French citizen capable of paying your rent if you do not. This can sometimes be your employer if you are a working expat.

How Can A Foreigner Rent An Apartment In France?

Photocopy of your identity card (or passport). Three last payslips (if you are an employee) or two last reports (if you are self-employed). If you don’t have this, you need a guarantor. A guarantor is someone who will be legally responsible for the renter in case they can’t pay the rent.

How Does Rent Work In France?

Rents in France vary greatly depending on factors such as region, neighbourhood, and property type. Furnished properties typically include bills in their costs, whereas unfurnished properties are typically advertised based solely on rental costs. However, this is not always true, so double-check ahead of time.

How Much Monthly Income Do I Need To Live In France?

The minimum monthly earnings requirements have therefore increased from nothing to €1,329 net income per month for a single person and around €2,658 net income per month for a couple.

What Is Enough Salary To Live In France?

In France, the middle class earns somewhere between € 1,500 and € 2,800 net per month. A good salary in Paris is often considered to be between € 3,000 and € 4,999 per month to allow for a comfortable living in the capital.

Can I Live In France Without A Job?

It’s possible to move to France without a job. The ease of this process depends on your nationality. If you are an EEU or EEA citizen, you can travel to France and look for a job. But, if you are not an EU citizen, then you have to apply for a French visa in your country before your move.

Do I Need A French Bank Account To Rent In France?

Everything hinges on having a French bank account just so that you can have the utility bills in your name, register for a Carte Vitale (health insurance), pay your taxes in France, obtain a house or Tenant insurance, etc., etc. Ideally, you need to open up a bank account before you arrive in France.

What Is The Cost Of Renting A House In France For A Month?

Across the country, the average rent for a furnished apartment is €709, while an unfurnished flat costs €671 to rent. Houses are more expensive, with an average rent of €985 for a furnished property and €902 for an unfurnished one.

Why Is Housing In France So Cheap?

France is roughly 1.5 times larger than Germany but has a 20% lower population. It has a larger rural area with fewer people to populate it. As more people move to cities, more houses are being added to the market, often at low prices.

Where Is The Cheapest Rent In France?

THE LIMOUSIN has been named France’s cheapest region to rent a home. The Observatoire Clameur, a French property rental market specialist, discovered that the average rent in the region is €8.30 per square metre per month – or €415 for a 50m2 flat.

Which Is Cheaper To Live In, The USA Or France?

The average cost of living in France ($1363) is 35% lower than the exact cost of living in the United States ($2112). France was ranked 29th in the world’s most expensive countries, while the United States was ranked 6th.

Final Thoughts

This has been a monstrous guide that covers all of the essentials for finding your new home in France. We hope you find the information useful and wish you luck in your apartment search.