Prices range depending on the location within France, and within Paris. On average, a one bedroom in Paris costs €800-1,500/month. Outside of the city, rent for a one bedroom are around €600/month.
For expats, Paris is often cited as the most desirable place to live in France. However, there are a plethora of wonderful options within the country. Note that Paris is also the most expensive places to live with rents decrease the further they are from a city center. Flats within Paris also tend to be quite small, even by European standards. A chambres de bonnes (servants's quarters) is a staple of inexpensive housing within the city and offer small, charming spaces with shared baths. One-fourth of the French population lives in housing subsidized by the government. Living conditions are below that of accommodations in the suburbs. Within Paris there also exists modern, spacious apartments with impressive price tags.
All types of apartments can be found at all price points, but most searches take time. Expect to spend 2-3 weeks looking for a place, 3+ for Paris. May through July is the best time to look. August is one of the worst times as almost everyone in the country goes on vacation. September through October can also be difficult as people return from vacation and students have already secured many of the best places.
Online search engines are one of the best ways to get an estimate of the current market and to track new properties. Most sites allow you to set-up alerts to find the best property for you. You can also list an ad for what you are searching for.
Some of the best apartments with the least amount of hassle may be located by word-of-mouth. Let contacts know that you are looking and someone may be able to refer you to an available property. Some places are never advertised, just found through friends, family members, classmates, work colleagues, neighbors, etc. The more people that know you are looking, the higher the chance you will find the perfect place.
Newspaper classified remain fairly popular. Note that you should call ads that attract you immediately (within daytime hours) as good properties can go fast. If you get an answering machine or voicemail, leave a message but keep calling as many people will not return calls.
You can also put your own ad in the paper. This is not as popular an option, but may help attract the perfect property.
Many places have billboards offering advertisements for a variety of goods and services. Watch these boards for useful postings, or post one yourself. Laundrettes, cafes, language schools, grocery stores, community centers, and bars all might have boards. The American Church is another useful location.
An estate agent (agent immobilier) can be a vital tool for finding the right place quickly. A good agent knows the legal pitfalls and has access to a variety of housing. An agent will provide you with a description of available properties, escort you to viewings, make sure your contract complies with expected standards.
It is recommended to contact several agencies. Most specialize in different areas, so find an agent that works in your preferred neighborhood. Make sure your agent holds a professional card (carte professionnelle) issued by the Préfecture. Agency fees are between one half to a full month's rent. If you avoid using an agent, you will avoid fees only if the apartment is rented out directly by the landlord (agencies immobilières).
It is always best to visit the apartment before renting rather then renting sight unseen. This ensures you will be satisfied with the accommodations and are able to abide by the contract. It also establishes a relationship with the landlord.
Set appointments as soon as possible. The longer you wait – even if its only a matter of hours – the greater the chance that the apartment will be rented before you get there. If possible, try to visit the area around the apartment both during the day and at night, or ask around to see what it is like. Peaceful areas during the day can turn into wild nightlife hang-outs at night.
Approach a first visit like an interview: Dress nicely, be prepared, and arrive on time. Being first and eligible does not necessarily ensure that you will get the apartment. Landlords are choosy with tenants and since demand is strong, they have the power position. For your best chance, dress neatly, be polite, an bring:
In addition, they may ask about your nationality, status in France, profession, job, family, etc. If you are a student, on a low income or planning on looking for work, it is best to secure a guarantor that will supply their proof of income.
You should feel free to ask questions about the rental.
1) How long is the lease?
2) How much is the security deposit?
3) Are utilities included in the rent? If not, how much are they?
4) Are pets allowed?
Contracts must be in writing. If the owner does not want to write out an agreement - insist. This is a vital step to protect yourself. Rental contracts normally run for three years, and must be for a minimum of one year. During the contract period (durée du contrat) you cannot be asked to leave. Agreements are automatically renewable for 3-year period unless the landlord gives notice 6 months prior the end of period. What should be include in a contract:
To make sure the contract is adhered to and you are not later charged with pre-existing damage, you should do a walk through with the landlord before signing the contract and sign an inventory and condition report (état des lieux) with the lessor. This is the time to ask any last minute questions. If the contract is in a language you are not completely comfortable in, it is your responsibility to have it translated or bring a trusted advisor you speaks the language.
The Diagnostic de Performance Énergétique (DPE) report details the amount of energy used by a building. The DPE should accompany any new or renewed lease agreement for a lease period of longer than four months. It is the responsibility of the property owner to have a building examined.
Landlords of property built before January lst, 1949 must also attach a constat de risque d'exposition au plomb report detailing the risk of exposure to lead poisoning within the building.
Complete information on diagnostic reports required by property owners: Risques liés á l'habitat et ses équipements (French)
The amount of the refundable deposit (caution or dépôt de garantie) is set by law at the value of one month's rent. This is paid upon the signing of the lease agreement. The first month's rent is usually paid at the same time.
At the end of tenancy, the landlord/agent has up to two months to reimburse the deposit. The cost of repairs is deducted from the deposit. It is illegal to hold back the last months rent in lieu of the deposit.
While the same tenant stays in the property, annual rent increase is capped to a maximum of the rent reference index (indice de référence des loyers, based on the consumer price index), about 1.5-2%. The landlord can freely increase the rent when tenants change.
The main issue for renting is that the letting agency is often going to ask multiple documents (last payslips, last tax certificate, employment contract...etc).
As you might not have all those papers, you might have to rely on the garantee of friends or family, or with LOCA-PASS® (official body that may be used as a garantor and can refund the landlord up to 18 unpaid months).
Paying several months in advance is not legal in france (deposit must be limited to 1 month for unfurnished; for furnished accommodation, there is not limit but this is usually 2 months).
The government of France may provide financial assistance to students by refunding a portion of their rent each month. Eligibility and amount of the subsidy depend on the resources of the individual student. Apply at the Caisse d'Allocations Familiales with a online registration form.
Tenant is required by law to have a comprehensive household insurance certificate. Rates depend on the size of the property. Proof of insurance must be shown to the lessor at the signing of the lease and may be requested at lease renewal. The landlord may add a clause to both new and renewed contracts, demanding termination of the contract if the tenant fails to insure the property.
Most apartments require that tenants submit a termination letter within 3 months. To terminate tenancy, send a registered letter with acknowledgement of reception (lettre recommendée avec accusé de réception).
If you are leaving before your contract is up, you may incur a penalty. Some leases contain an "early-out" or "early-release" clause, which states under what conditions you can break your lease and the amount you owe the landlord. This may be dependent on a visa not being issued/re-newed, or other unforeseen circumstances. Keep in mind that your security deposit may also be forfeited, depending on tenant laws.
When you reach the move out date, meet with your landlord to complete a walk-through. Review your contract to find out what repairs or damages are not covered under your lease. Have your landlord check for potential damage or repairs before you move out to avoid surprise fees down the road. Discuss how and when you should expect to receive your security deposit with the landlord. You may also ask if you may use your security deposit to pay the last month's rent.
Looking for cheap accommodation in Paris isn’t easy and can be time consuming. Fortunately the times of browsing innumerable adverts, making hundreds of phone calls and visiting dozen of houses belong to the past: with Uniplaces now you can look for your room comfortably sitting at home. You can pick a room in a shared home with other expats, a studio flat if you want more privacy, or you can team up with other friends and rent an entire apartment just for yourselves.
The booking system is very simple and doesn’t require any visit: all can be done in advance thanks to the detailed descriptions and photos of the rooms and you can secure your room before even getting there. Moreover the Uniplaces team will be available for any questions and help.
Uniplaces is an online marketplace for booking mid-long term accommodation with thousands of verified properties.