Tenancy without contract

Hello everyone,

It is a long time since I last posted.

The reason for this query is that a friend of mine finds himself in a difficult position. He and his family (two children in local schools) occupy a property owned by English owners who were formerly neighbors and friends… They pay €700 pcm and have been in occupation for about 20 months. There is no contract.

There is now a dispute regarding maintenance and they have been told to vacate by 1st November. This date seems to me to be no coincidence, given the general French law that tenants cannot be evicted over the winter period, as I understand it.

There has also been a threat of contractors being allowed access to carry out extensive redecorating works as well as repairs etc. All of which is to be billed to the occupier. All under the direct supervision of the owner who intends to be living onsite.

If anyone has any thoughts or advice I would be grateful to receive them. Is there a French organization to which these details should be submitted in order to resolve the dispute?

Many thanks in advance.


A bit of info here:

My emphasis - but it looks as though the landlord needs to give only one month notice for furnished accommodation - although the contract length is 12 months and considered to automatically renew so that one month might be towards the end of the contract period as notice of intent not to renew rather than randomly in the middle of the rental period.

I suspect your friend needs to check with someone qualified in French law.

Meanwhile, here is another possibly useful link - suggests six months notice is needed (I’m confused now, but it only underlines the fact that proper legal advice is needed).


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Does you friend have assurance jurisdique in place?

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When you’re no longer wanted it’s time to move.

They’ve been given reasonable notice - use that time to find better would be my experience.

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It is hard to find rental property in France - if they have somewhere lined up and ready to go fair enough, if not then it’s a bit more complicated.


Just because it is not written doesn’t mean there is not a legally valid contract. I suggest they contact ANIL to understand their rights. Was the place meublé (furnished) or non-meublé, and is it their principal home? Whilst the tenant can give one months notice, the owner can’t! And only for a narrow set of reasons.

I am not often on the side of the owner, as French law is so strong for tenants. But in this case I feel the tenants may be being taken for innocents abroad. Whilst a verbal agreement is legal, the owners still have to respect people’s rights. And it strikes me that they are being bullied. And I wonder whether there are other rules the owners have not followed?

Yes they should leave, as this situation is not a comfortable one. But in their own time as not easy to find good rental property. (In their position I would be tempted to tell the owners to £&*#…-off, and let them go though the expense and long winded process of evicting them - but that is NOT good advice as will escalate matters.)

What they should do is not respond to requests to leave either verbally or in writing. And get advice asap.


Ah, that would explain the difference between the two articles.

Thanks everyone for your swift input.
I do not think that they have assurance jurisdique.
The owners packed up most of their possessions and moved them into the barn, although a dinning table was left in place and white goods remained in the kitchen.
It is their principal family residence and they have been there since 1st December 2019.

Whilst they have no wish to remain in the property they obviously need to organize a move. No easy task with two children in local schools. They are told that the owner ‘will be moving back into his house on a permanent basis from, at the latest, 1st November’. This seems a bit threatening to me and baseless as there is no agreement on how the tenancy/occupation can be brought to an end.

He contends that the €700 pcm payment is merely a contribution to running costs, not rent. He expected work carried out to the house in lieu of rent. He terms them guardians.

In addition he is demanding all maintenance is completed in advance of this date. This includes some running repairs which is fair enough. It also includes elements of renewal/replacement of pre existing issues such as very old and broken shutters.
I will certainly suggest that they contact ANIL and in the meantime, not agree to anything other than replacement/repair of items that they are directly responsible for.

Thanks again everyone.


Without a contract what he thinks is probably of little consequence - if it looks like rent it will almost certainly be considered to be rent.

that’s employment… the owner will have put an employment contract in place then?

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Moving back into your property is one of the few legal reasons you can give notice to tenants, whether or not there is a written contract. So the owners obviously have some understanding of French law.

Sadly we don’t have the two sides of this story which seems have multiple facets.
Guardian paying the owner for the privaliage of guarding the house to the tune of 700€?
As Graham noted the authorities may view this differently especially URSSAF and the impôts.
No formal contact, Very iffy at the best of times.
I wonder who’s paying the elec, water Télécom tax d’hab etc.
Discounting the symantics looks like both sides are on a sticky wicket.

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For clarification, with what amount of notice?

who could come of worst if they threw rocks at each other?

As there’s no agreement they don’t have much of a leg to stand on unless they claim squatters’ rights, which they can, and the owner can do very little about it. Bad for both sides.

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Depends whether bail meublé or non-meublé, and what the motive for giving people notice is. The rules are quite strict, and usually relate to the date of the end of the contract. What I don’t know is whether in the absence of a written contract the law would take the 12 month anniversary of them moving in as the date.

It’s complicated as many variables

I wondered about squatters’ rights too… how damaging could that be to the “tenant” in any future dealings with the rental market?

No, the contract doesn’t have to be in writing.

If they have proof of paying regular monthly amounts that should be enough to show there is a contractual agreement, and that they are no squatters

Well it’s looking like they’ve had a serious falling out so I would imagine that if the occupants can’t for some reason leave by the required date there’s going to be a punch up.
I think the most legal of the two would win but if there’s been any financial shenanigans both will loose and if they hold TDS may well find themselves across the channel

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as there seemingly is no contract, who could determine that?
From what the OP says, the owners have had some of their furniture removed from the property and stored in the barn which suggests non-meublé…

With no contract perhaps that doesn’t matter. This article (and Se Loger is usually reliable) suggests 6 months notice if no written contract. “Le propriétaire doit prévenir le locataire 6 mois à l’avance.”

The current tenants should probably take photo’s just in case. Especially to show the bed as that’s a core element of a meublé property.