The difficulties of renting a place to live in France

My French husband and I are going to be moving back to France in the spring. We do want to rent before buying. We don’t want to be rushed to buy even though we know the area we want to live in. He was born in France, I will be a French citizen soon. I speak fluent French, (although I am not a perfect speaker of it yet). I am a hairdresser with 30+ years of experience, photos that show my work, plus I would be happy to take any test to show my skill level to a prospective employer. I will also look in other sectors for a job. I will do hair ‘a domicile’ if I don’t get a job in a salon. My husband will probably be on disability or whatever they call it, for he has Parkinson’s. We’d be able to stay with my in-laws for a while, but neither my hubby nor I want to be a burden even though we all get along great and they have the room. We want to find a place ASAP after we move over there.

Having said all that, I heard from people in France, my relatives included, that you need many many documents to prove to the landlord that you will be able to pay the rent every month because it is very hard to evict tenants. I think they even said that if I don’t have a job it would be almost impossible, even though we’ll have money in the bank. This is true especially when dealing with an agency, but you might get lucky if you find someone that’s renting NOT through an agency, and they get a good feeling about you. I accept that this is the way it is in France, I’m looking for anecdotes, advice, tales of woe, or whatever, the more brains involved the better! Maybe one of you have a place to rent next year. Emails are welcome if you want more info about us, or a long story of your own. I love stories.

Thank you everyone :slight_smile:

When my son moved to Lyon with his girlfriend 2 years ago to study at university, both I and his girlfriend’s parents had to each provide a guarantee to any unpaid rent that the couple might default on, and additionally we (the parents) had to provide copies of our payslips (which as independent is an impossible challenge) for the last 3 months, our bank statements for the last 3 months and our income tax statements for the last 3 years. This was for a flat via an agency. Obviously as students, they had no income, so no real surprise that they investigate the “solvability” of the parents, but still, I was rather miffed at all of the documentation required just to even have their application for tenancy considered by the agent. Just goes to show how difficult it can be…

Unless the renting is done through the correct channels and with the correct paperwork… this could end up as a disaster for either 1) the Owner 2) the Tenant.

Good feelings are all very well… but there are many horror stories out there… (and on this forum). Frankly, you get on with your relatives… and they have the space… so why not stay with them while you make an all-out effort to find the place you want to buy. ???

I think Stella’s advice is sound, even if it’s not your ideal situation.

If your OH is on disability benefits (will these be exportable from the UK, have you checked?) and you can’t show a secure salary coming in, the odds are against you getting a foot into the prime rental sector. Most professional landlords have insurance against non paying tenants as a matter of course, therefore they will only accept tenants who meet their their insurance company’s criteria, and without secure income (ie a CDI or an established business) equivalent to at least three times the rent, you will not tick the insurance company’s boxes.

You would no doubt find something, such as an off the radar long term deal on a holiday let or from an unregistered landlord or a property that other tenants don’t like the look of, but dodgy landlords don’t want to be pinned down to signed contracts and without a rental contract it can be hard for new arrivals to prove legal residence in order to get into the system for healthcare etc.

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What area are you looking to move to? As has been said, a longer term holiday rental (up to 6 months) might be the way to go.

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That will have a high price tag but could be the only alternative.

You’re right about agencies, having said that we’ve always found privately (le bon coin) years ago when I was a student it was “au noir” which I wouldn’t advocate. I once rented based on feeling and proof of what I had in the bank as I was between jobs. others have been just as demanding as agencies wanting payslips/company accounts etc. etc.

Renting privately is often no different to renting through an agency as long as it’s done properly - the contracts are standard and can be bought/downloaded by any landlord. Acepting you is then at their discretion unless they have landlord’s insurance (for non payment etc.) in which case the dossier is just as comprehensive as an agency.

I’ve never rented holiday/furnished (always unfurnished open ended contract) but that is a more short term stop-gap option

Search on the boncoin, amongst others, in the area you have in mind and that’ll give you an idea :wink:

When we attempted our first move to France a relocation agency affiliated to my husbands prospective employer advised us that to get around the difficulty of references, payslips etc was to pay the whole years rent into an escrow account as an assurance to the landlord. We didn’t move back then so don’t have experience of the pros/cons of this but it might be an easier way for you to prove you will pay the rent?

Yes, forgot to mention that we’re in the Montelimar area and I will be looking for work pretty soon after getting our stuff over here. I will be getting a car first, so I can easily get to a job.

My husband will be getting disability from France, not the U.S., so no transferring of funds from another country, (in that vein).

We don’t want to buy right away for a number of reasons:

  1. Getting acclimated to a whole new life
  2. Seeing how much will be coming in every month, (we might have to get a small loan
    when we do buy. And we will have to prove income).
  3. We have a pretty wide perimeter from Monteilimar in which to look, will take time
  4. It will most likely be our ‘forever’ home, can’t rush that
  5. Get along well with parents, but we all agree not to live together, (staying there while we
    secure our own rental is long enough, LOL) besides, we have a full household of things.

Barbara Dean, there were many suggestions, so I don’t know which ‘that’ you were referring to when you said, “‘that’ may be your only option”. Fortunately, in my experience, there is never only one option. :smiley:

Thank you for confirming Andrew Hearne about leboncoin, I have been looking there. Good to know all the other stuff about our dossier too. Very good information, as always :blush:

I think that’s all for the questions posed. Thank you everybody for your input, I really appreciate it!

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When I looked into renting, back in 2006, agencies were at that time offering the option of lodging 3 years rent in an account that only a notaire had access to. But I have a feeling that changes in rental laws a few years back made this illegal, and there are now restrictions on how much security can be asked for upfront. Then there was a situation where agencies and landlords couldn’t ask you to lodge a guarantee but if you offered, they could accept. I don’t know if that’s still the situation or if it’s changed again, they’re always tweaking the rental laws.

Good to know Anna Watson, thanks :slight_smile:

We do long term house sitting. You might look on some of the House sitting sites to begin with., and are just three that come to mind.

Thank you Monica