Lease and formalities
Landlords are subject to an obligation to provide decent housing. What is decent housing?
In practice, you cannot offer a tenant accommodation in which health or physical security is endangered. The owner is obliged to provide basic sanitary facilities (hot water, heating, WC, etc.). Accommodation is also subject to a minimum surface area of 9m² and a ceiling height of at least 2.20m.
For more information, you can consult the Decree dated January 30, 2002 on decent housing: https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=LEGITEXT000005632175&dateTexte=20110729
This mandatory written document is the contract between the landlord and the tenant.
Its minimum duration is three years tacitly renewable for empty accommodation (if the owner is an individual) and one year for furnished accommodation.
The information which must appear in the lease:
the name and the address of the owner and the tenant, the duration of the rental and the date from which the tenant disposes of the accommodation, the description of the accommodation and annexes (cellar, garage, garden, etc.), the floor space, the intended use of the rented premises (i.e. residential or professional use), the amount of rent and charges, the payment terms of the rent and the conditions of its possible revision, the amount of the security deposit and the terms of leave.
For more information, you can consult Decree No. 2015-587 of May 29, 2015 on standard rental contracts for accommodation to be used as a primary residence:
The owner can only request departure of the tenant upon the expiry date of the lease and then, subject to at least six months’ notice before this date.
An incoming inventory must be drawn up when the keys are handed over (in practice, the day of signature of the lease) and attached to the lease.
This is a document which describes the rented accommodation room by room, as well as the equipment it contains and the annexes (cellar, attic, garage, etc.).
The tenant and the owner must establish it together when the keys are handed over and when they are returned. To be valid, the inventory must be signed by both parties (it can be amended within 10 days).
You must also indicate the number of keys handed over, as well as the readings of the individual electricity and cold water meters.
For more information, you can consult Decree No. 2016-382 of March 30, 2016 laying down the procedures for establishing the inventory and taking into account the state of disrepair of rented accommodation to be used as a primary residence: https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/eli/decret/2016/3/30/LHAL1515736D/jo/texte
Security deposit and single or joint guarantee
The security deposit (often called a guarantee) is a sum of money paid by the tenant to the owner when the lease is signed, intended to cover any costs generated by the tenant at the time of his/her departure (rent, repairs, payment of charges, etc.).
Upon departure of the tenant, the owner returns this deposit but may deduct sums remaining due by the tenant.
The deposit amount may not be more than 1 month’s rent (2 months for a furnished rental) excluding charges and cannot be reassessed during the lease.
The owner may require a third person to stand surety or to act as guarantor to guarantee the payment of rent and charges in place of the tenant in case of default by the latter.
You can consult the model letter to stand surety for a tenant
When signing the lease and renewing it, the landlord must provide the tenant with a technical diagnosis file.
This file includes the following documents:
- the energy performance diagnosis;
- the report on the risk of exposure to lead;
- where applicable, a statement of natural and technological hazards.
The ALUR Law of March 24, 2014 introduces new documents to supplement the technical diagnosis file:
- a copy of the statement mentioning the absence or, as the case may be, the presence of construction materials or products containing asbestos (Decree to be issued);
These diagnoses are mandatory and must be performed by a certified professional.
The public service website helps you find a professional near you.
As of July 2018, an ELECTRICITY diagnosis will also be mandatory.
Tenant’s supporting documents and insurance
The owner may ask the tenant for certain supporting documents before signing a lease. For more information, you can consult Decree No. 2015-1437 of November 5, 2015 laying down the list of supporting documents that can be requested from a potential tenant and his/her guarantor:
Tenants are required to provide evidence of their insurance policy to their landlord when the keys are handed over, then each year at the lessor’s request. If necessary, they have a period of one month to provide the certificate.
If the tenant does not take out home insurance, the landlord is entitled to terminate the lease.
However, the owner can now decide to take out insurance on behalf of the tenant in his place, adding the amount of the premium to the rent. To do so, the lessor must first send the tenant a registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt indicating the intention to take out insurance in his/her place. The tenant will then have one month to take out insurance.
The amount of rent can be set entirely freely in Bourgogne and also any payment method can be used. It is revised once a year according to the change in the reference rent index (IRL).
To consult the evolution of this index, click here https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F13723
The rent can be revised once a year if a clause in the lease so provides. The revision date is the date indicated in the lease or, failing that, the anniversary date of the lease. If the lease does not include a revision clause, the rent remains the same throughout the lease.
The owner must provide the tenant who so requests with a receipt, free of charge. It must include the basic rent, the charges, the address of the accommodation, the month concerned and the owner’s signature. This document can only be given to the tenant once the rent and charges for the period indicated on the lease have been paid in full.
Rental charges, also known as recoverable charges, are expenses initially borne by the owner, but which can be charged to the tenant. Rental charges are usually paid every month, in the form of provision for charges. An adjustment is carried out annually by comparing the total provisions already requested by the lessor from tenants with the actual expenses incurred by the owner during the year. The amount of charges recovered by the lessor must be justified.
If the provisions are higher than the actual expenses, the owner must return the overpayment to the tenant; otherwise, a supplementary charge may be applicable.
The list of recoverable charges is given here: https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F947
In all cases, the lease must mention what is contained in the charges.
The Maisons de Services au public (M.S.A.P)
The Maisons de Services au Public (M.S.A.P) (public service centres) can help you use the internet, and provide you with all possible sources of information according to your needs:
- Its agents can inform you of the steps to be taken to rent out your property.
- They can inform you and advise you on the solutions to improve, adapt, renovate or improve the energy performance of your rental accommodation.
- They guide you, if necessary, in the possible conciliation procedures in case of dispute.