Renting property in France - how does it work?

Update: Well… we’ve miraculously sold our UK house in less than two weeks… though don’t yet have a date for completion. So… our next challenge is to find a property to rent from September and gather the evidence we need to establish residence.

Can anyone explain how the rental market work in France? Is it mostly done privately or are there rental agencies like in the UK? Do estate agents deal with rentals as well as sales? I’ve looked on leboncoin but find the search facility confusing enough, never mind the results.

I’ve found a couple of English language sites which are mainly people letting their holiday properties over the winter months and I’m still not sure that renting a Gite, even if using a standard 12 month furnished lease will satisfy a CdS application.

We’d like to rent somewhere in the countryside between Angouleme, Limoges and Perigueux; need two bedrooms and be pet friendly as we can’t leave Stanley the Basset hound behind. If anyone can explain how the French rental market works and how we can find a suitable property, or has a suitable property, please get in touch.

Like England, there are many routes to a rental property. Most agents do sales and rental, some do only one or the other. This obviously adds costs as you have to pay agent’s fee. Leboncoin is one route to private rental, also sites like It is also worth asking the Marie in communes you are interested in as they sometimes have rental properties themselves or know of them.

The one thing I advise you to do is to prepare your dossier. (This is France…). Anyone renting you a property will want solid evidence of who you are, how much you earn and how, and if no salaried job they may want an additional guarantee. There will also be deposits and so on to pay.

As long as you have a proper, legal rental contract I can’t see that the authorities will care what it is that you are renting. Do just note that if you have no primary residence then legally you should not be offered a short-term ie 3 month contract by a gite owner. These are holiday homes with holiday contracts.

Of course a gîte owner can offer you a proper 12 month contract of a furnished home without problem, but 12 months is the minimum term. (You can break it before then depending on conditions.)#

For an unfurnished place the legal minimum contract is 3 years.

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Thanks Jane. I suppose I’m wondering whether we should worry too much about finding somewhere to rent now, whilst we’re still in the UK, or if we can wait until mid September when we can pack up our belongings (at least those not going into storage), move to France and try and find somewhere. If we’re going to be living somewhere for up to 12 months my preference would be the latter. Am I worrying unduly about being homeless?

It takes time to go through the necessary formalities… and that is after you have actually found something which suits you.

I would suggest you start making enquiries now… so that everything is tied-up and ready for you to move in… coinciding with you packing up in UK…

lest you find yourself camping on a chemin… :wink: :open_mouth:

In our master plan… we allowed for the cost of putting all our furniture into storage in UK… until our place was suitable to receive it… and, yes, we did camp initially… but at least we had four walls and a (dodgy) roof… :joy: :joy:

I would wait. If you aren’t restricted to counting every penny I would rent a holiday home for 3 weeks or a month, and then look when you arrive. If you want somewhere for 12 months worth taking time to get it right.

But a big but is that I don’t know know where you are aiming for. And if a small or stretched rental market then September is the hot month for rentals.

Has anyone used a relocation company or hand holding service to help secure rented accommodation?

I’m getting increasingly confused as opinions vary about whether a gite can be used, even with a standard 12 month furnished rental agreement, as it seems to depend on whether the gite owners made provision for this when setting up their business. On the other hand, I can understand agencies and landlords being reluctant to rent to someone who has just arrived in France, doesn’t speak particularly good French and has no paperwork to speak of.

I thought getting our house on the market and finding a buyer was stressful but this is a whole other level… :worried:

Hi Gideon… As you will have gathered… Gîtes are a bit special… and yes, you have twigged that they are for holidays when folk actually live elsewhere whether in France or abroad.

If you have any idea of the area of France which interests you… contact the Mairie in as many neighbouring villages as possible … stating what you are looking to rent… and why…

You might strike lucky… they may have council property to rent (usually 1-3 years) and they may know of private rental property or give you a link… it’s worth a try.

It would be useful if you have a French bank account, which can show you are self sufficient and possibly pension/payroll stuff … not really sure what they need but I would like to be sure that my tenant would be able to pay me…

Just thinking on my feet here.

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It is forbidden in France with rental properties to refuse domestic animals other than Cat 1 dogs-ie Pit Bulls.


I’m not sure I understand that. We have a gîte and a flat rented “a l’année” within the same business structure which wasn’t set up specifically for one or the other. The difference for us is the contracts we use, and what we have to provide (for the flat each time the tenant changes we have to repeat diagnostic tests for example). But that’s our decision, and we could change from one to the other quite easily should we wish to.

However although I know of quite a few gîtes that do winter lets - nov -jan - I don’t know anyone who would offer a 12month furnished rental contract unless they were completely changing their approach. Why would you? So my guess is that these would be pretty rare anyway. (Unless Covid has done something odd to the market of course).

Even if you use a hand holder surely you will still need to provide a dossier? We would never accept a tenant without. So you need to work out what you can put together. One option could be to offer to pay an “assurance loyer impayée”.

We put our stuff in storage, rented a gite for a month via Airbnb (cheap in October) and started looking. We had the following problems:-
The agents, with one or two exceptions, don’t want to know you if you can’t produce a French tax demand for the last year. Some will accept you if you pay a year’s rent as a deposit into a bank account (no interest, you have to pay THEM to hold your money!)
We couldn’t get a French bank account because we had no fixed address.
We arranged with the gite owner to stay another month, and persuaded him to give us a piece of paper saying we lived there. A friendly man at the Postbank accepted it.
We moved to another gite after two months (it was cold in winter) and after 3 months went to a place called the CCAS who gave us a fixed correspondence address (it takes 3 months of living in a town to qualify).
We finally found something through an agent after about 3 months.
You should open a French bank account before you come. It’s no problem with a fixed foreign address.
Now we have the problem that at the end of the usual 3-year contract the landlord is going to give us notice as he wants to sell. That is allowed in France. We have first refusal to buy it. We’re considering it.

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I can just imagine the who ha in our village if a social housing apartment was rented out to an offcomer.

probably depends on individual situations. eg in our commune, we have several social houses… designated for low-income families with children… therefore the rent is fixed very low.

We also have two properties we can rent out to whomever we please… for as much as possible…

the commune needs people/children but it also needs income…

I don’t believe that this is the case here.

Every commune is different, Jane.

Our commune is fighting to keep itself afloat… and, so far, they seem to be doing a good job.

It may be needs pointing out that all communes are different.
Here we are seeing an influx of younger families buying properties, if there are any on the market.

Well, I certainly do say… every commune is different… just as every area/region/whatever will differ in various ways.

if you have young families, buying… that is great… that promises stability. :relaxed: :relaxed: