Renting a home in France

Renting a home long term in France can be an excellent idea if you are not yet 100 per cent committed to buying there and there is a wide choice of rentals in most areas.




Renting a home long term in France can be an excellent idea if you are not yet 100 per cent committed to buying there. There is a wide choice of rentals in most areas and indeed more often than not, people choose to rent on a permanent basis in cities such as Paris, Toulouse and Lyon. Overall it is more common in France to rent than buy in large cities such as these.


France is a huge country and rental costs vary greatly. A small unfurnished apartment in Paris, for example, could cost around €1,000 per calendar month. Other cities will have decent apartments for around €800 per calendar month and naturally, the further away you are from the city centre of any city, the cheaper the rent will be.

Renting in more rural areas will be cheaper still but you will find a big difference in prices during the summer months. For example, a large “maison de maître” or family home in rural France with outside space and a swimming pool may be as much as €3,000 during July and August but less than half this amount during the winter months. 

Both landlords and tenants have certain obligations. The landlord must provide a property of decent quality with proper drainage, utility services and equipment. It is important to take a close look at what is included when you are renting. For example, a “cuisine amenagee” means that all kitchen equipment, such as cooker, fridge and dishwasher, will be included. It is also a good idea to check that TV, internet and bed linen are all provided. These items should be clearly marked in the rental contract. Unfurnished properties will normally just include floor coverings and window treatments. 

Tenants must have insurance in place before signing the contract and are liable for the “taxe d’habitation” which is a local housing tax. This falls due on January 1 each year and is there to cover things such as street cleaning, lighting and local services.

Tenants must pay the rent on the agreed dates, arrange for payment of utility charges and  take full responsibility for taking care of the property and paying for any breakages or damage. Subletting is not normally permitted without the landlord’s permission.

On applying for a rental lease you will usually need to supply proof of income and possibly a guarantor to stand as a surety. Since February 2008 the amount of refundable deposit has been reduced from two months to one months rent which is paid up front on signing the lease, along with the first month’s rent. At the end of the tenancy the landlord has up to two months to refund the deposit and may of course deduct anything for repairs.

Rent is normally reviewed annually and this should be set out in the tenancy agreement. For a rental term of one year or more, the landlord may change the terms of the rental but must give three months’ notice of this. The tenant however need only give one month’s notice of any change.

It is usually advisable to rent through a letting agency who will offer you some legal protection should anything go wrong and will draw up a tenancy agreement which must be adhered to. 

When deciding whether or not living in France is for you a good idea is to rent for a whole year. This will give you a very good idea of what your life in France would be like since many rural areas have a very different atmosphere in the winter. Another option which might suit you better would be to do two or three rentals of a couple of months each in different parts of France to work out exactly where you would like to be. The rental market works very well in France and you should have little problem finding your ideal property in most parts of the country.