Fighting to get back the deposit on our last house

Hello life savers !

Without wanting to bore you with the tedious details of it all our letting agency have only paid back around half our our deposit and their justifications for taking the other half are quite frankly nothing short of rude (we've been charged for the replacement of things that were never there in the first place as clearly stated on the original etat des lieux) and for repainting pretty much the whole appartment. We were instructed not to repaint as they planned to do other work on a problem of humidity in the walls which would then have to be painted over anyway. We were simply to fill the holes which we did. Anyway enough of that.

I sent a long letter by AR which I wrote and my french friend corrected. It was received by the agency on the 23rd January and not a word has come from them since. Of course I have no desire to spend a fortune on this and lose more than they have already pinched but I'm hacked off that they think they can get away with cheating us and I'm even more hacked off that they don't even have the courtesy to respond. Has anyone had a similar situation and can you advise me on my next move please? My (french)husband is pretty horror struck at the thought of getting involved as it just gets us so frustrated and nuts that in the end you wonder if it isn't better to just kiss the money good bye but i'd like to stick to my guns for a bit longer (at the very least for the sake of my frined who was up till mindnight rewriting ht eletter and hunting down legal terms for it!!). I have a wedding in Spain that I can't afford to go to and that is motivating me to pursue this :)

Thank you so much in advance for any advice you can give. (We are in Bagneux in the south suburbs of Paris if anyone can recommend somebody here I can talk to..)


PS Is there a spellcheck on survive france? i am such a useless typist!

Hi all,

Further to James' above request, I have reposted my post under Property and entitled it Rental problems with english landlord.

Thank you Kate for your advice re Adil. They are in Perigeuex and I have spoken with them in the past. Basically I need to know re my contract, what do I do with the rent ie how and to whom do I pay it. I really don't want any more hassle in my life or any more court cases - I have one currently ongoing against a previous french landlady (please see my post) and really don't want the stress of any other court cases unless absolutely impossible not to chase this in court. Feel like giving up and going back to UK where things seem more normal and sane! Life is so short and stress so bad for one's health - I have friends in the UK who are the same age as me or only slightly older who are seriously ill - I don't want to spend my life or lose my good health due to stress cause of these nasty greedy and dishonest landlords/ladies.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

many thanks



You must go and speak to your local ADIL asap. They will advise you on your rights and it's free.

I would be surprised if the contract you have is worth anything in France and as sitting tenant you have all the rights and they can't evict you without 6 months notice. if they are selling the property, they have to give you the chance to buy it first and I think that you have 2 months or so to make that decision.

If the contract does not have the landlords name and address on it, it is not a legal contract in France anyway. They have no right to enter your home and you can call the gendarmes if they do.

Change the locks if you need to, to give you piece of mind - it doesn't cost much....and get on with finding a new rental. There are plently of decent landlords out there, believe me.

Good luck and let us know how you get on with ADIL.


Amanda, can you repost that as a new discussion please? It looks like you need some advice and I can more easily promote it as a new discussion.



Hi Rebecca - look at this link -

would be the same steps you need to take for either furnished or unfurnished accommodation. Your local ADIL will help you and it's free so don't give up. Fight it.

So sorry to hear that so many of us have had to go through this type of situation. Yes, it is a very common problem here in France. I've had a lot of help from the Conféderation National de Logement (CNL). My local chapter was very, very helpful and provided tons of legal advice (on AND off the record)!

Thank you all for a very useful stream on this issue. I wish I had read it a few months ago. In brief, my situation is that I have left my last rental in August and predictably, my unreasonable landlord is being difficult about returning my 3000 euro deposit. Because they have been so difficult ( 2 illegal notices to leave, rude emails and generally unprofessional ) I took advice about earlier this year and I was advised by several people not to pay the last two months rent. in the end, I couldn’t bring myself to do this but I really, really wished I had. I know it,s not the right thing to do but in my case, it would have saved me a lot of hassle and stress. It,s a shame France doesn’t have independent deposit schemes like the UK. I am a landlord myself and admittedly, I would not like my tenant not to pay at the end of the tenancy but it appears to be the only solution to avoid outright theft by dishonest landlords.

I wonder if anyone can help me with the following questions:

Is the onus on the landlord to prove alleged damage in deposit dispute cases or does the tenant have to prove that they left the property as they found it. ( my landlord didn’t provide anyone to inspect the house at the end of the tenancy and the only provided a word .doc inventory in English )

Can mediate between landlords and tenants?

Does anyone have any experience taking a matter like this to court in France ?

Thank you, any comments or pointers appreciated

Stephen, the law for one month changed quite recently, about 2008/9 i think. Would have to look it up for sure - 2006 was definitely 2 months deposit.

Hi Yvette,

How did you get on? It has been over six months since we left and nothing from our previous landlady. I guess they were allowed to take two months rent when we moved in in 2006.

Very informative thread, thanks all.



Thank you very much for the thorough explanation. I guess I will take the risk and not pay the last month's rent, hoping the landlord will not pursue the saisie conservatoire. After all they are not losing anything


Great information on security deposit. thank you.

I am moving out of my Paris apartment next month and don't plan to pay the last month's rent because I know I will never get the deposit back. However I wanted to know if the landloard or the landlord's agency can call on a bailiff to place a conservative hold on my bank account???? I read this in the Paris rental web site and just want to know that they can't touch my bank account. Please help.

Hello Yvette,

Have just read all of the posts added here. And, ohhhhh how I agree with your frustration, and I support you every little bit in your journey to recover the deposit and hope that you will succeed in this process.

I came accross your discussion trying to locate some information regarding dishonest estate agents in France. Unfortunately, we have encountered (yet another) problem with landloards in France. Despite my strong advice, my somewhat naive husband decided to sign the rent contract before the works in the apartment were done (or even started for that matter). Now, one week later, the time when the agent promised to have finished the job needing to be done (some repainting and minor change or carpets in the 2 bedrooms), nothing has been done, and the lady responsible is suddenly all unavailable and noone seems to be knowing nothing about beginning work, never mind, finishing. And when I visited the agency today, some person asked me why am I complaining if we have had signed the contract and are aware of the state of the apartment? My husband (French) signed it on a promise that the work would be done... I know... not very clever, but for him he just tried to avoid more stress as he really have enough on his plate.... So I am pretty much in the same situation as you and will have to try to handle it my self...

Effectively we are now paying for two apartments and after a year in France, I have a suspicion that the works will not be done in any near future (if ever).

the problem is that all of the work that needs doing is some repainting, as previous tenants have been in there for 5 years and carpet change, which, I suspect< haven't been changed since the appart is built. I also have a strong suspicion that they have withhold the whole deposit of the previous tenant to cover the cost of works, but at the same time tried to let the flat to us without doing any work on it at all.

I just want to symphatise with you here, because after the straightforward dealings in UK housing market and elswhere in the Europe, I cannot believe the sheer rudeness and obliviousness of the estate agents in France. And I really don't want them to get away with this. I will try to get them to not charge us for the weeks we are not able to live in the flat. And after reading comments on here, I think that this is just the start of the problems....

Keep us updated on the progress in your case, and if anyone can give me some advise, I will be very, very greatful.

Thank you all in advance :)


It's just my personal experience, but i find the opposite, people here are very quick to look down on you, and decide to try to get one over on you, but when they are threatened with something "official", or "legal", they do the whole "ohh, no, I didn't mean that, let's not be petty, here, have your deposit back/refund/free gift/upgrade, after all, it was clearly a mistake,or misunderstanding,let's all be friends".

At work, people often try to get out of paying little bits here and there on their bills, when they see me,because I'm foreign, and so, an easy target. On hearing that they either pay what I factured them, or have it taken from their credit card anyway, and then having to go about claiming it back, they promptly whip out a wad of cash, or their card.

We've had our share of problems too but generally everything has worked out OK in the end. Maybe we've been lucky....

Because we can do all the work ourselves so the cost is small for the tenant (usually materials only) and keeps it within the deposit charge.

I think alot of landlords got a shock when the deposit went down to 1 month from 2 so that when a tenant left around that time, they were expected to pay back 2 months to the outgoing tenant but only got 1 month from the incoming tenant - suddenly cashflow took a big dent and they probably did everything they could to hold onto at least half. Maybe that's why it's got worse?

Another problem these days is that you are only allowed to have one months rent as a deposit, whihc to be quite honest does not even pay for a repaint of the apartment. We too charge a little above average for our apartment and we do get to choose our tenants but don't always get it right.

The tenant does have all the power here when it comes to paying rent and some landlords must be really hard and cynical about it. We know that agencies tend to be bad at repaying deposits but private landlords generally have been very good to us.

You say the abuse is widespread and suggest it is the norm to hold back the last month's rent but we've not had a tenant do this yet - but then we do live in a more rural area where everyone knows everyone and maybe that's the difference. Also our apartments are top end and more expensive than most so we do get our pick of tenants. If they did withhold rent then I guess we'd have to raise the rent to cover unpaid remedial work after tenants leave and also to cover lost income in the short term. Nobody really wins in the end.

So what's the solution? Can't really think of anything that will work. Maybe if tenants had some sort of credit scoring system that would be harmed if they didn't pay rent and same for landlords if they didn't return deposit remaining after remedial work? Doesn't seem very workable.

Out of ideas now.

We'll just continue doing right by tenants until they force us to become hard and cynical too!

Can't you take advantage of the treve de l'hiver and stay another month or two rent-free?

oh dear - it's such a nightmare/ My husband dreams of painting the newly painted walls black. i think he'd actually prefer to do that then have the money back. Well I'll take it as far as I can (in spite oif yet another failed visit to the poste yesterday - i have set up for the online poste account though and so should be sending my AR's from the privacy of my own home from next week!) Fortunately I have a really good French friend who spent an Erasmus year in the UK and then worked in Ireland and she since finds it impossible to tolerate the customer service that so many French people just seem prepared to shrug off and accept and has helped me make the letters the right mélange of flowery and threatening! It never ceases to amaze me that the French are so ready to strike en masse for huge joint projects yet so prepared to accept slights and poor service as individuals. Totally the opposite to the UK mentality of course. All adds to life's rich tapestry though! The downside of it all though is the more I flip at things the more my husband is slowly expecting a better standard of service. I keep telling him he must remain french in his expectations or else we'll both end up stark raving lunatics. As a matter of personal pride it beggars belief that anybody could let tehir house in such a state and with moouldy food in the oven. What vile people. This timle we have bought so at least it is definitely the last time this can happen to us:)


I don't know anyone who has ever got their rent deposit back from a French landlord (including in the UK) Everything wears out, door handles get loose, silicon joints in the bathroom get mouldy, wall sockets get loose, toilet ballcocks start to leak. All this is obviously your fault, not the fault of the shoddy materials !! But basically it boils down to the old rule : possession is nine tenths of the law. Hope you are not too much out of pocket

all the best