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When you move to France it may make a lot of sense to rent a house or apartment before buying a property. From the comfort of your rented accommodation you can take your time looking for the perfect property in the perfect location – without any pressure to find a “forever-home” quickly in order to fit your moving or visa application agenda. And you can try out living in an area before committing to buying a property there with all inherent consequences.

The French Rental Market

Unfortunately, renting in France is not always very easy. Depending on the town or area the French rental market can be extremely competitive. Lots of people may be applying for the same place and offers may be off the market almost as soon as they are published.
Even the French complain about the lack of available rentals and the difficulty of getting their applications accepted. Foreigners arriving in France without a steady job often find it even harder.

It is important to know all you can about how renting in France works because there are big differences to what you are used to from your home country.
One such difference is the division of rentals into two types: short-term furnished rentals (meublé) or long-term unfurnished rentals (non-meublé).

Furnished rentals (bail en location meublé)

A lease for a furnished rental or “bail meublé” is signed for a one-year period (don’t worry – this duration is only binding for the landlord, not the tenant) and must include the following furniture:

  • Bed(s) with duvets or blankets and pillows
  • Shutters or curtains in the bedrooms
  • Hotplates
  • Oven or microwave
  • Fridge
  • Freezer or freezer compartment of the refrigerator with a maximum temperature of -6 °
  • Crockery in sufficient number for occupants to take meals
  • Cooking utensils
  • Table and seats
  • Storage shelves
  • Light fixtures
  • Household maintenance equipment adapted to the characteristics of the accommodation (vacuum cleaner if there is carpet, broom and mop for tiling, etc.)
  • A phone line.

This is the absolute minimum of furniture and equipment for a furnished rental. Some properties may provide significantly more than this, including washer, dryer, etc.

The big advantage of a furnished rental is that it gives you time to arrive and find your feet in a new town and actually enjoy the first few days instead of coordinating furniture purchasing and deliveries in a foreign language. But of course you may have to live with furniture that is not quite up to your tastes in design or comfort. Typically, there is only the bare minimum though which leaves lots of room for you to make your new home your own.

As stated above, the one-year duration only binds the property owner, and even at the end of the year, there are very few legitimate reasons they can ask you to leave. If they do not cancel the lease at least three months ahead of the end of the lease by registered letter or if they do not provide one of the accepted legal reasons, the lease is automatically renewed for the same period of one year.

As the tenant, you do not have to honor the full period of the lease. You need to give only one month’s notice by registered letter in order to get out of your rental contract. Make sure that your rental contract contains a clause for “bail mobilité”.

Unfurnished Rental (bail en location non-meublé/vide)

An unfurnished property or “bail non-meublé” is typically rented for a period of three years. These leases usually offer more tenant protection and flexibility to make changes than the one-year furnished lease.

In an unfurnished property, the owner is not obliged to provide any furniture or equipment. Some owners may provide a fitted kitchen but usually you will find neither a fitted kitchen (oven/stove, hob/cooktop, extractor, microwave, fridge, cupboards etc.) nor any other fixtures and fittings the way you would in other countries. A “kitchen” in the description means literally just the room for a kitchen, containing possibly a sink and maybe a hob/stove – if you’re lucky.

With an unfurnished rental you will therefore have to do a lot of furniture shopping. The advantage of this type of lease is, of course, that you get to really make the place your own without the expense and stress of buying an entire property. And of course, if you are planning to move or to buy later, you will have already purchased much of your furniture and can take everything with you.

With an unfurnished rental you must give one to three month’s notice by registered letter to break the lease, depending on the location (the exact condition will be in your contract). The property owner must give notice six months before the end of the lease and is held to the same limitations as for furnished rentals.

How we can help

What would be the best solution for you? Where do you find rentals? How do you prepare a dossier that will convince agencies or landlords? What do you have to look out for in a rental contract?
Renestance can advise you in all these questions and accompany you in your rental search from the first planning stages to the final walk-through and handover of the keys. We also have our own network of agency partners and landlords willing to rent to foreigners.

Contact us for an initial project consultation on your moving and housing plans or for more information about our rental search service.



Photo: R ARCHITECTURE / Unsplash


All articles by: Gabriele

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