Do you own a property in France that you would like to rent out?
As you might expect, the laws and regulations for rentals in France differ from the rules in force in the United Kingdom.
In this article, we summarise the key principles that you need to know when you rent out your property in France.
Minimum duration of the lease for residential tenancies
As a landlord, you must offer your tenant a minimum duration tenancy, which is based on your status as a landlord.
If you are an individual landlord (or a “personne physique”) then the minimum duration of the lease is three years for an unfurnished home. The same rules apply for a landlord acting in the capacity of a family, or a family business (a “Société Civile Immobilière”).
However, if the property is owned in your company’s name (as a “personne morale” in French) then you must offer your tenant a minimum duration lease of six years for an unfurnished property.
These minimum durations are reduced to one year if you are letting out your property as a furnished home, regardless of the landlord’s status.
Note that these rules are only applicable to properties that will be lived in as the principal residence of the tenant. There is no specific lease duration for seasonal rentals.
At the end of the term of the tenancy, if neither party has given notice of termination, then the lease renews automatically.
Tenant’s rights to end the lease
The tenant is free to leave the accommodation whenever they wish, so long as they give notice. The notice period varies from one month to three months, depending on the type of accommodation, its location and the situation of the tenant.
Landlord’s rights to end the tenancy
The law in France is weighted towards the protection of tenants. So landlords cannot bring the tenancy to an end simply at the expiry of the term, even if they have given sufficient notice. The landlord can only end the lease in the following specific circumstances:
- You want to sell the property with vacant possession. In these circumstances, the tenant can request priority to buy the property. You will need to respond to their request within two months. Note that you can sell the property while it is occupied by a tenant and the lease will continue as normal. There is no requirement to inform your tenant of the sale and the new owner steps into your shoes in the rental contract.
- You decide that you want to live in the accommodation or allow one of your close relatives (spouse, ascendants and descendants) to occupy it.
- You have legitimate and serious reasons to terminate the lease, such as repeated late payment of rent, significant damage to the property, neighbourhood disturbances, violation of the prohibition on subletting, etc. The tenant can contest your reasons and take the dispute to court and the judge will then decide whether or not to validate the reason(s) given.
If you have a legitimate reason to end the tenancy, you can do so by giving your tenant notice of termination. However, you can only end the tenancy once the term of the lease has expired. The notice period is six months for an unfurnished property or three months for a furnished property.
The notification letter must be sent by registered post with acknowledgement of receipt, or it can be delivered personally by bailiff. The letter must clearly specify your reason(s) for non-renewal of the lease.
Finally, landlords should be aware of particular laws that protect tenants over a certain age. If your tenant is over 65 and his or her resources are below a certain limit, you cannot end the tenancy without finding your tenant an equivalent property in which to be rehoused.
However, this rule falls away if you (as the landlord) are also over 65, or if your resources are below the upper limit.
While rental laws in France tend to favour tenants, there are several ways that you can protect yourself from unpaid rent:
- Insurance: You can take out insurance called “Garantie Loyers Impayés”.
- Deposit: Similar to the UK system, you can ask your tenant to pay one month’s rent into a deposit scheme, which can be used to cover any costs related to the deterioration of the accommodation when the tenant leaves. The deposit is refunded if no damage is found.
- Guarantor: As an alternative to taking out insurance, you can request a guarantor from your tenant.
- Management agents: Entrust the management of your property to a professional, whose role is to select solvent tenants. Estate agents are carefully regulated in France and each estate agent must hold a professional “transactions” card. He or she must take out insurance guaranteeing their professional liability and they must have a financial guarantee.
If you would like to speak to a lawyer about renting out a property in France, please get in touch.
Categorised in: French Law
This post was written by Melanie Chereau