Yet More Renting Woes

Sorry, I know this has been a frequent topic of conversation lately - not least by yours truly.

Buy yesterday we went rental property hunting and hit the Immobilieres in Merignac Bordeaux. We were given much the same story by all six we visited, and it has left us flummoxed and not quite knowing how to proceed.

First agent we talked to was great until we told them we were relying on my UK pensions (some €2000 per month), savings of some €25k and UK earning I get from a pat time consultancy job (roughly another €2000 per month). I have put figures in so you can see that it is not a lack of funding that is the problem. All the above is documented in various forms.

Once she found we don't have a French income and therefore don't pay French taxes currently, she told us that the insurance the vast majority of landlords are now required to take out precludes us from renting from them - the insurance company rather than the landlord makes a decision on suitability of tenants.

We got more or less the same story from another four agents – with minor differences in interpretation. The sixth told us that as we didn't pay French taxes then it was against the law for her to rent us a property! By then, and despite the ridiculousness of her statement, we had lost the will to argue.

So four hours of going round Immobilieres gave us nothing but the fact that we seemingly cannot rent a property in France if we do not pay French taxes! One agent did say that 90% of landlords have such insurance, 10% seemingly don't and it wouldn't be such a problem to rent from them if they thought us a reasonable risk as tenants. The others didn't mention this and when we tried to ask one, they just said no, we must be paying French taxes to rent.

We offered to pay a 'caution' - so the 6-12 months of rent left with a third party bank to give the landlord some security, but were told NO, this is no longer possible under the new laws.

Now we do intend to set up a business in France. But even if we were to start tomorrow, it is unlikely that we would be paying French taxes in the next six months.

We only have a six month contract on the apartment we are in at Park and Suites, and we do need to find a property to move into by end April 2015.

I know we could hit the private landlord trail (so particulaires) but our French isn’t up to it right now – lessons begin in January.

So can anyone give us advice on how to get round this apparent log jam we are experiencing?

What we could do with is finding an English speaking landlord that had places to rent in Bordeaux – problem solved – but what we actually really want is an expat who speaks good French to accompany us on a visit to the next set of Immobilieres, so we can better understand the reality of the situation and put our case to at least see the 10% of non-insured properties they may have.

If said French speaking expat could also help us in finding and meeting some particulaires in Bordeaux and getting to view their properties, so much the better.

We are more than happy to pay for someone’s time, and it would be money well spent if we are able to secure a permanent property.

Can anyone help us here?

Shaun and Ness

I had problems renting too due to not having 3 years worth of French tax statements. Even though my French partner did have. The only solution we found was to find a guarantor who is a French citizen. They wouldn't accept a British citizen as a guarantor. It's true that it is French insurance companies that are the problem fundementally though.

W e know nothing about B'deaux but am very excited to explore, altho' I find it difficult to walk far. Would love to meet up. I'll pm you our details. If you feel like a day out, we're not too far.

Jim's fathers' family came from near dublin, I think.

BWs in the meantime,

diana and Jim

Shaun and Ness, well done! I'm sure you had a good Christmas. I find that if I 'think' a parking space then there it is! and you have this same positive attitude. It'll work.

We have just moved to the Charente Maritime after years trying to sell in Dordogne. Can't wait to discover Bordeaux. Yesterday was our first visit to the sea. Wonderful. We'll all have a brilliant 2015. BWs from diana and Jim Byrne

I've bought and sold several houses on leboncoin (and cars for that matter) and never paid a centimes - you can pay for more frills/more photos etc but I've never done so ;-)

Wow Shaun, thanks and merry Christmas to you all.

Great to hear! Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Nice one. May it well continue and improve.

That is a lovely update!

Yes, but thanks to double taxation rules we should only be taxed once (fingers crossed!) Thankfully as part of relocation we have KPMG to help us for the first 12 months!

My wife and I rocked up in the Gers in our car and caravan three years ago with the intention of renting a property. Our experience with letting agents mirrors yours—Shaun and Ness. It seemed to us that the 'legal requirement' of three years' French tax returns was a convoluted way of protecting the French rental market from non-French whilst circumventing the EU laws on free movement. Like you, I was totally aghast at the ludicrous rules and determined there and then to find a loop hole.

The solution for us was to rent privately from an ex-pat. First, we rented a gite for six months from a Dutch gentleman. Then we found a small, partially furnished property in the Pyrenees Orientale owned by a lovely British couple, advertised on rentaplaceinfrance dot com. Handshake, month's deposit, and a 12 month contract. No "caution" or any of that stuff.

We set ourselves up as auto-entrepreneurs and used that as the legal framework within which to work as marketing consultants. Getting a French bank account wasn't a problem. (Bank Populaire). We got in "the system" and had our first baby here in France. Two years later we even convinced the bank to give us a mortgage (with 33% down, I hasten to add!) and we are now the proud owners of a beautiful old house in the centre of a lovely, friendly little village, not far from Perpignan.

I share my story as a real offering of hope! France seems like a closed book but you just need to get your foot in the door and everything works out fine. We also used the services of "France SOS" - a sort of French 'admin fixing' service (it's ran by a English speaking lady named Louise who I highly recommend!)

Best of luck with your property hunt anyway and merry Christmas! :)

Oops!! Forgot to reply. My Bank is LCL not Credit Agricole.

Things really do seem to vary from bank to bank and branch to branch and even depending which person in the bank you speak to. We are only in temporary accommodation too. We arrived in September and took our rental contract to the bank (Credit Agricole) which stated we were living in short-term holiday accommodation rented to May 2015. The lady there went out of her way to help us. She said we were supposed to have a proper long-term rental contract to open the account but she was willing to open it for us as long as we promised to come back and provide their more usual proof of address within a month, ie a utility bill, house insurance or a mobile phone bill. The account was opened and having the account allowed us to get a mobile phone which allowed us to present her with the bill she required! All very circular but I guess she could see we were genuine and I agree with Fiona that it really helps if you can speak French.

Good luck with your hunt in the New Year. I'm sure with your perseverance you will find a property.


Sorry I've been offline for a few days. We are making progress with rental. The insurance company gave a list of requirements, one of which was an attestation that we will register for tax, even though hubby's income will be taxed in Lux, we will be completing a tax return declaring no earnings in France (unless I get a job, but need to get settled first!). The 2nd estate agent I think had to ring around to find an insurance company who was more flexible, so we got lucky with the immobilier more than anything!!! Being able to speak French is very useful so if you can find someone to help you that would be ideal. We have everything set up now for our "fiche" other than the French account, our bank contact in BNP Luxembourg is sorting it out with BNP in France.

Personally I am finding the whole process very stressful, but I do have 2 young children and it was the first anniversary of my Mum's death 10 days ago.

Hope you make progress!!!

A whoopsie ;-)

Do the bank account first, with the address where you are living now, explaining it isn't your address for ever as you are house-hunting and transfer some money into it, then go & see agents.

If they ask for French tax forms etc say "nous sommes là depuis 2 mois, nous ne sommes pas encore dans le système".

I think what you are up against is that you are seen as people without sufficient rootedness in France at the moment. Sort the bank account and it will be a lot easier. All agents want is proof of income in France because t is very difficult to get rid of bad tenants - and as they can't, obviously, tell who is going to be a bad tenant, they assume everyone is potentially a bad risk.

You say you banked with Credit Agricole for years so you have obviously been in France a long time. I imagine things have changed considerably since then. When I came here in 2007 I opened a bank account in Montpelier but was only able to do so because my then partner (now hubby) was already living there. They were very strict about it even then.

Yes Debra but it is in Spain - the owner lives in Bordeaux.

There is a UK bank, albeit the French operation, who you will find in Rue Esprit des Lois just near the opera house in Bordeaux. They will give you an account on the spot.

Sed questus vestri iuvat!

Good to see you have a sense of humour Mike, you're going to need it especially when setting up your business - it gets even worse :-(