Renter vs Owner – What to expect

Agency fees in Paris run upwards of 20% of the monthly rent. Many agencies will inflate the rental prices to build in their agency fee. They may also require an extra check-in fee. ParisExpat.com ‘s rental prices are transparent & do not include any agency fee. Our fee is a flat 8% of the total rent.

French law requires Renters Insurance for all renters. You are free to use any number of commercial insurers available in Paris. Their quotes will not vary much… but what you need to bear in mind is that most will automatically sign you up for a one year policy, which you will need to then terminate in writing by registered letter (une lettre recommandée), well in advance. We recommend InsureExpat.fr. Clients have also used ADAR (Albinet Insurance Brokers). Avoid the cheapest quote if it means it will be difficult to cancel the policy! For rental periods less than 3 months this is an option. You should then be able to obtain the renters insurance certificate online.

Renters’ Rights are very protected in France, which is part of why most landlords will require 2 months rent as deposit for foreign renters. (Kicking people out is a lengthy process). French agencies generally require 1 month rent deposit, plus the equivalent of your medical history in financial records, proof of employment, recommendations, etc. Vetting foreigners in this way is not as easy, so a higher deposit with fewer references is the norm.

Before you sign a contract, communicate clearly with your agency in writing (email is fine), with any particular needs/concerns about your apartment. This goes for renters & owners! Read your contract before you sign & return it. If you don’t read French well, ask someone for help.

Things to check when you visit an apartment: If the apartment is furnished, DO try the bed, especially if it’s a click-clack (futon) or sofa-bed. Turn on the shower to check water pressure. Find out whether the heating is electric or gas. Gas is often included in the owner’s building fees; electric is usually payable by the tenant & more expensive. Ask about les voisins (the neighbors); is it a party house or tranquil?

Owners: Be upfront about any problems in the apartment or planned renovations; this should reflect the overall rental price. Renters prefer honesty over “surprises.”

Negotiate: It never hurts to ask. “Are the dates flexible?” “Will the owner accept €1250 instead of €1325?” “If we stay for xxx amount of time, will the owner include the taxe d’habitation?” etc. You may have more wiggle room for long term rentals. Longer contracts equal less vacancy, which is generally desirable for owners.

Rental prices in Paris are sky-high. Prospective renters, expect to pay more than you would in the other most expensive property markets in the world (San Francisco, NYC, Tokyo, London…) Owners, consider asking a reasonable amount. One investment property does not generally make you a lot of money. There are studio apartments in the Marais selling for half a million €, so you can imagine the mortgage payments.

Taxe d’habitation is payable by the tenant who inhabits an apartment on the 1st of January each year. The amount depends on the size of the apartment. For example, a 120 square meter apartment (~1270 square feet) in central Paris is around €1400/yr. Sometimes taxe d’habitation is built into the monthly rent, & is normally pro rata for short-term rentals.

Owners require 2 months rent deposit from foreign renters, for their own security. For rentals of less than 6 months, a lesser deposit may be negotiated. Owners have little recourse for international renters who cause major damage & disappear back to their own country. Owners should not be persuaded to accept less. This can present a significant financial burden on renters, but what security alternative do owners have?

Returning your Deposit (La Caution)Owners legally have 2 months to return your deposit. C’est la loi du 6 juillet 1989.   99% of the time, owners want to move on just as much as you do, & are happy to return la caution as soon as all final utility bills arrive. If possible, try to consider your deposit as auxiliary, emergency fund, rather than part of your general expenditure budget. You may find yourself in a pinch, if you’re depending on an immediate refund at check-out. When you move into your apartment, make sure you fill in an Etat-des-Lieux (Apartment Condition, including furnishings, structure, walls, etc.).

Damages: Again, filling in an Etat-des-Lieux upon check-in will clear any doubt about the state of things when you leave. It is one of the best insurance policies available! If the renter ruins something, say a carpet, the walls, a bed, he or she is liable. If the carpet was brand new, consider a 100% cost deduction from  the deposit. If the carpet was 5 years old, consider a pro rata deduction. This is generally a gray area, left to the discretion of the landlord. Bottom line is, respect his & he will respect yours.

Utilities are generally payable by the renter. Electricity in France is much more expensive than in the USA. You may be heating a much smaller area, but older French buildings in winter do not necessarily have the best insulation either! For 12 month rentals or less, utilities are generally left in the owner’s name. You should be emailed a PDF copy of bills as they arrive, & reimburse the owner accordingly. If you are concerned about the cost of utilities, ask how much the bill was for the coldest 3 month period of the previous year. For short term rentals,  it is common for the owner to either include utilities in the overall rental price, OR ask for an estimated monthly contribution, to be settled when you leave.

Terminating your contract: There are crazy people everywhere- bad tenants, bad landlords. We try to weed out both to enable a positive, communicative rental situation. If you need to end your contract, after the prescribed term, you must terminate in writing by registered letter (une lettre recommandée) at least 1 month in advance. Short term contracts are different. If you terminate early, you forfeit your deposit. If you find a replacement tenant, the landlord may be lenient & return your deposit. In any case, the landlord has no responsibility to return your deposit.

Paypal is currently the cheapest, secure way to pay agency fees, rent & make deposit reimbursements for both renters & owners. Unless you already have access to French funds & a local bank, international bank transfer fees are considerably higher than Paypal’s. Consider how many  transfers you will be making. Renters are responsible for paying all charges net of transfer fees, so it is in the renter’s best interest to find the cheapest way to move your money. ParisExpat.com has both €Euro & $USD accounts with Paypal. We encourage owners to set up their own 

Links: Rue 89 online journal of the Nouvel Observateur has a comprehensive article regarding deposits (in French, which you can entirely translate in 1 click, if you are using Google Chrome as your web browser).  

Paypal Always make sure when using Paypal, that you go to the correct, secure website (This is a general warning for any site where you enter sensitive information). Look at the web address & make sure you see https:// at the beginning. Http:// is NOT secure, & could be a false site.

These properties are owned by some of our favorite propriétaires:

rue Monge 75005, 2 room-studio

rue Jacob 75006, 3 bedroom

Porte d’Orleans 75014, studio

About ParisExpat

An online rental resource dedicated to assisting the residential needs of hundreds of thousands who annually visit Central Paris. Vacation or Relocation, we're happy to help!
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