Is it common to be refused a rental because you aren't French?

We were out last week to find a house. Found a lovely one, provided all financial, employment etc evidence and were told all looked fine. Told this morning that the insurance says no and because our guarantor is in UK it won’t be accepted. Is this the norm? Hubby starts work on 2nd February and we now have nowhere to live.

Thanks again for all your advice and experiences! We have had some success (hopefully) with the 2nd agent. They can get insurance if we fulfil a number of conditions, such as opening a French bank account (we have opened one in Lux for hubby's salary, wonder if we can work with BNP Paribas on that?), attestations from his work and from us. So it looks like we may be able to rent....

You are right, the landlord can not demand more than one month rent in advance, but the law does allow the tenant to offer it. It makes all the difference. One year's rent offered in advance by the tenant is legal, but illegal if demanded or required by the landlord.


It's called a "caution bancaire." We are coming from the U.S., and in fact, we will soon be moving into a house near Nantes with one. You establish an account with a French bank and put up an agreed amount of money and that sum is blocked in favor of the landlord should you stop paying rent. Initially the landlord wanted a year but we were able to negotiate 6 months. The fact is this is fully understandable given the French laws which are so favor the tenant. So a tenant who stops paying the rent, may leave the landlord without remedy until the end of the lease. Thus, it is natural that landlords want some security. Having been a landlord once, I just accept the system.

Escrow? We used to have foreign clients in London and builders were often fearful that they would not be paid, especially the last payments. Unfortunately there was evidence that foreign clients were susceptible to doing just that. Therefore a system was devised where the client paid regularly in advance into an escrow account of which I was empowered to make payments to the contractor. I made an undertaking to warn the contractor if payments had not been made. There there was always enough money in the account to make the payments. Sums were quite large, much more than rent, and averaged £100,000 a month twenty years ago. We did this on a few projects but it involved costly accounting procedures and we were always very careful, though fair, with the client's money.

Fiona, I had a similar problem with a house rental where the owner was a real estate investment firm in Paris. They asked for one year's rent to be put into an account which could not be touched except with their authorization. There is a name for that type of account but I've forgotten it. In any event, after being a loyal paying renter for over a year, I wrote to them that by then they should know I pay the rent faithfully and will always will so I would appreciate them releasing that money back to us which they did.

Hi Fiona,

I haven't read all the mails, so maybe your situation has changed in the meantime, just in case:

- do you have a French bank account? you will need one

- is this a new job? if it's a new job, they will be very reluctant to rent as, with 2 young children, it will be almost impossible to evict you if you stop paying

- can the company pay the rent for you and then deduct it from your OH's wages? that would work a treat!

- you will need to come up with 3 months rent upfront in France, just like in Luxembourg

- have you had a look at Belgium?

- look at other pieces of property, different agencies work with different insurance companies!

Good luck, renting here for the first time is difficult, even when you're French, believe me!!

Yes, people have become more distrustful and you're right of course David, dishonesty exists everywhere irrespective of nationality but sticking to the original topic by Fiona was "Is it common to be refused a rental because you aren't French ?" A certain type of brit who came over in the '80s instigated this sense of distrust in many parts of France. That's why cheques are nowadays refused by the majority of businesses in the Charente and environs.

'Dodgy' notaires and the likes are more common than you may imagine but that is a totally different subject.

As I said above dishonesty exists everywhere and here in Brittany there have been examples of French tenants "conning" British landlords. Whilst they are not the best off tenants those having rent paid by CAF are a relatively sound bet. CAF pay to a ceiling and the tenant may need to top up. Dishonesty round here seems to be mainly burglaries on isolated houses (including those in the process of refurbishment when materials have been stolen), outboard motors, dodgy (British) agent running off with deposits, dodgy French notaire ditto, dodgy notaire inleague with locals and lying to Brits, cowboy builders. However these things happen in the UK too and I am having a right royal duel with a firm of solicitors. I think that with more exposure on the net etc people have become less trustful, and perhaps those tempted to be dishonest have seen how easy it sometimes is to take advantage.

"Is it common to be refused a rental because you aren't French ?"

To answer your question, no I don't think so. Twenty years ago I feel your guarantor etc would probably have been accepted. Problem is so many brits have come over and tried to fiddle the system ie. signing cheques with insufficient funds in the account etc which has tended to make the french reticent about trusting them. As usual, the actions of a few dishonest people has put the kybosh on it for the rest...

Hi Fiona, speaking as someone who lives and works in the area, I would seriously consider renting something in Luxembourg, at least for the first year. I know it's a lot more expensive, but you have to consider the traffic problems commuting from over the border every day (c. 100 000 French + the Belgians and the Germans). Don't forget that you'll receive about 400 eur family allowances for 2 children which will help with the rent. I'm sure your HR manager can help you with this. Also, there is a lot more going on ex-pat wise in Luxembourg which can help you ease in gently to a new life style.

They get away with it because there aren't enough flats out there for everyone....Offer and demand...that's it

Just had an offer on a farm accepted.... signing the first round of paperwork monday, but if there is anything about me being foreign on Monday, i'll let you know for sure

If you rent you need two main things. Three months' rent in advance and a guarantor..If you lack one or the other you're out...If you don't have chance....When I settled with my wife, we started renting. I am a teacher, so I have regular income, at that time my wife to be was still studying. My wages did not cover up the three months' advance and my parents could not be guarantor..I had to fight over and ask my wedding witness to be a guarantor. He accepted..And yes I'm FRENCH..IF YOU DON'T FILL THESE TWO REQUIREMENTS YOU HAVE NO CHANCE. AS I understood, this lady has a prospective guarantor from her husband's work. This and a regular income, a bank account I don't see why she couldn't have a house to rent..If the reason is her origin, then it is clearly AGAINST the law.....

It's exactly that, Debra, and quite understandable given the tenancy laws here in France :-O

My French Bank Account made no difference. To be blunt all that worked was cash. To give you some background, I own 2 houses in France. One I am selling and the other I am converting - I am disabled so my first house (which I've owned since 2003) is now unsuitable for me. So whilst we are selling one house and converting a second we needed rented accommodation. I thought, wrongly, that being asset rich and having a French bank account (which I've had since 2003) would help - NO, I just don't have French documents so I had to put up a years rent as a deposit! I know not good news but that was my only option. I'm sorry not the best news but that was my situation.

Aww thank you Jean-Louis, we have opened a BNP Paribas account but not transferred money over yet. I've never rented a house before (owned even as a student) but didn't expect it to be this hard!

Well, unfortunately, it's even hard for French citizens to rent a flat....Insurances demand FRENCH bank accounts , It's not your Britiain citizenship that is the problem, it's your non having a French bank account....Usually insurances are in deals with French banks. Maybe, you could open one, transfer the money on it and...voilà...If you need any translation work let me's free of charge...Why would I do it? Because I uses to live in Bonnie Scotland...It would be jus ta pay back for the wonderful years I've had there in Glasgow...Cheers

In the UK it's not normal to ask for insurance for non payment of rent. One could I think work out that that would be very expensive as insurers don't want risk if they can avoid it. We do however insist that out agents look at the income of possible tenants and if they are newly arrived in the country we have taken six months rent in advance which the agent keeps on trust. Maybe a future employer could guarantee the rent, giving an undertaking to give notice if the employment ceased. It does seem that the landlord is viewed as an evil in France as the law appears to favour miscreant tenants. That must be one of the reasons that insurance is a market too.

Yes, this may be part of the problem, the second agency the property is listed with seem more keen to help. Email sent with enough documentation to sink a battleship! Once we sell our house we can pay 6-12 months rent but still waiting on our buyer selling or someone else coming along with the money to buy now! (Which 2 weeks before Xmas is unlikely!)