What kind of rights do you have as a tenant in France?

Updated: May 4, 2021

Everyone deserves to live at a decent place. It is not easy to find a new home, but that doesn’t mean you should take anything that you can get.

Relocation expat moving to Lyon France

1. Can’t be too small

Every apartment in France has to be at least 9 m2 with a height of at least 2.2 m to rent it out. Furthermore, it must contain a window, a possibility to cook warm meal, a heating equipment as well as a separate bathroom and toilet.

If the place doesn’t fulfill all the criteria above, it’s illegal to rent it out.

2. It has to be in a good condition

The landlord is only allowed to rent out his or her place if the apartment is in an overall good state and all the appliances are in order.

Of course, it can happen that the apartment needs renovation, but in this case, the landlord and the tenant can agree to lower the rent if the tenant is taking care of the repairs. They should add a clause to the lease, stating the renovations.

3. What kind of repairs have to be paid by the landlord?

The landlord has to maintain the apartment in a general good condition, at least on the same level when he or she rented it out. That means, if something needs to be repaired or improved, it is the landlord that pays it. For example, if the water boiler breaks or the roller shutter on the window gets stuck. The landlord is also obliged to pay for any renovation in the common area of the building, like the corridor or even the façade.

To respect the tenant’s privacy, the landlord must inform the tenant in advance about a repair in the apartment. If the reparation work is longer than 21 days, the tenant has the right to ask for a reduction of the rent, because he or she couldn’t enjoy the apartment undisturbed.

In case of a dispute or disagreement between the landlord and the tenant, they can turn to The Departmental Conciliation Commission (CDC) to find and amicable solution. The service is for free.

On the other hand, the minor repairs and problems that have occurred from misuse, are the responsibility of the tenant. These smaller issues usually don’t require a professional, just a good handy man.

Check out the list of rights and obligations of tenants and landlords from the Agence National pour l’Information sur le Logement (ANIL)

To avoid uncomfortable conversations, it is obligatory to take notes and photos of everything when a new tenant moves in, called the “état des lieux”. It is a detailed document signed by both parties, that describes the state of every room, furniture and home appliances.

4. Can the tenant renovate the apartment?

Yes of course, the tenant can improve the overall state of the place he or she is renting. For example, with a fresh coat of paint, hanging up some pictures, changing the carpet or putting up some shelves. In order to change the structure of the apartment by knocking down a wall, the tenant needs to ask for permission from the landlord first.

It is generally agreed that when the tenant moves out, he or she needs to turn back the place to its original state. Repaint the walls to their original color, fill the holes in the wall.

5. Asking for proof of payment

Landlords have to provide for free a so called “quittance de loyer” which proves that the tenant was paying the rent. The document should show the date and the amount of the rent, as well as if there was any additional cost for repairs.

6. Peace and quiet

According to the Agence National pour l’Information sur le Logement (France’s National Accommodation Agency) the landlord mustn’t enter the apartment without prior permission from the tenant. Special circumstances may occur in a state of emergency, such as gas leakage.

Even though, the landlord owns the apartment, the tenant has the right to live there undisturbed.

After the tenant has decided to end the lease and while the landlord is looking for a prospective new tenant, the visits have to be announc