How Can You Terminate a Lease Agreement in France?

Renting in France involves signing binding lease agreements between the landlord or agent and the tenant. These agreements come in handy in case of a dispute. That said, there are cases when a tenant wants to leave the rental property before the end of the lease term. In such cases, it is essential to know how to terminate a lease agreement in France properly.

When terminating a lease agreement, a tenant is expected to give a one-month notice, while the landlord is supposed to give a three-month notice for a furnished rental. For an unfurnished rental, the tenant is allowed one to three months’ notice, while the landlord should give six months

When leasing a property in France, including for residential purposes, you need to have a binding contract agreement signed by both parties. Besides, whether you are a tenant or an owner, you must follow the rules to terminate the rental contract in France.

Therefore, if any party wishes to terminate the lease, it should abide by the terms of the lease agreement to avoid legal battles.

Related: Rent prices in France.

Termination of rental agreement in France

To terminate the rental contract in France, both the tenant and the landlord must give notice beforehand and respect a notice period. Therefore, termination of any rental agreement in France should be within the law’s context and the agreement’s details.

A rental agreement must contain the terms of termination, the duration it will run, charges, and how the tenant intends to use the property. Deviating from the contract could lead to problems and disputes.

The rental agreement stipulates the duties of either party. It also states the rights and obligations of both tenants and owners. Landlords have varying terms and conditions on the property as they deem fit and within the law.

Once the rental period specified within the agreement expires, and none of the parties has given notice, the contract is automatically renewed.

If a tenant wishes to terminate the contract, the law stipulates that they should provide a notice of not less than one month for a furnished apartment and three months for unfurnished property.

A tenant bound by a rental agreement can terminate it before its due time, provided they do it within the notice period. This period can be shortened under various circumstances, as highlighted below:

  • Involuntary loss of income source
  • If the tenant is elderly above sixty years and gets seriously sick, prompting the need to shift
  • If the tenant receives social security supplementary benefits
  • When the property is located in a zone tendue or  a stressful housing area
  • Job transfer, where you are required to shift to a different region

When terminating the contract under these circumstances, ensure it’s written and delivered on time to avoid future legal distress.

How to give notice?

As a tenant, you should send a notice via the registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt, or it should be delivered by hand, followed by a landlord’s signature.

Additionally, ensure the recipient acknowledges receipt of the letter through signing or stamping.

Termination of the rental agreement by the landlord

In France, it’s hard for a landlord to terminate a running contract without giving enough notice unless the tenant has breached the contract to which proof must be provided.

A landlord can end the tenancy only in several situations; the notice period is pretty lengthy. For furnished apartments, this period is three months, while unfurnished homes can be terminated only within six months.

Besides, one of the following criteria must be met to terminate the rental contract as a landlord:

  • If the owner plans to sell the property
  • If they or their family members want to live in the apartment
  • If a landlord can justify a legitimate and serious reason for termination, for example, if a tenant can not pay the rent, etc.

That said, if the tenant receives the notice of termination from the landlord, they can leave the apartment anytime they wish without any notice period.

Also read: Best French cities to live in as an English speaker.

Rental contracts and notice period in France

In France, there are several rental contracts you can take advantage of according to your preference and circumstances.

Some of the available options include:

Short-term rental contract

This is also called mobility tenancy, as it applies to people who need to rent the property for a short while as they partake in a specific undertaking. Some of the groups of people that qualify for this tenancy include:

  • Students in higher education
  • Students on internship
  • Groups undertaking special training
  • Workers undertaking a civic duty
  • Employees who have just transferred to the region

This type of contract runs for the period agreeable between the landlord and tenant or until the tenants are done with their projects. The law, however, caps the maximum period at ten months.

The length beyond ten months will require a different type of contract. None of the parties can renew the contract. 

In the contract agreement, it should be stipulated that it’s a mobility tenancy, so in case of a dispute along the way, it’s handled as such.

Under a short-term tenancy, only the tenant can terminate the contract before the lease period is over. However, under such circumstances, the law requires the tenant to serve the landlord with a one-month notice.

Long-term tenancy

A rental agreement that goes beyond one year is called a long-term contract. The terms governing this contract are determined by whether the rental is furnished or unfurnished. 

Here are the significant differences that govern the two:

FactorFurnishedUnfurnished
Period of contractOne yearThree years renewable
Notice period required when a tenant wants to terminateOne monthThree months
Notice period when a landlord intends to terminateThree monthsSix months
Deposit requirementTwo monthsOne month

The landlord can only terminate the contract prematurely if the tenant significantly fails to keep their responsibilities, plus other reasons mentioned above. Besides, the landlord can fail to renew the contract upon selling the property.

The contracts for both furnished and unfurnished properties would include the following:

  • The start and end of the contractual period
  • Rent price
  • Any extra charges and the party to settle them 
  • Deposit requirement
  • Inventories

As a tenant, you need to ensure all aspects are clarified on the contract, as the same will be used in the event of defaulting by either party.

When evaluating the inventories, especially for a furnished apartment, you need to work with the landlord to ensure you agree on what’s availed at the start and termination of the contract.

As for the deposit, ensure you’re served with proof of receipt as you’ll need to be reimbursed upon exit.

How to shorten the notice period in France

There are some cases where you (as a tenant) can terminate the rent of an unfurnished apartment with one month’s notice instead of three months:

  • If the apartment is located in a “tense” area
  • In the event of obtaining a first job, transfer, loss of a job or new job following a loss of job
  • If a tenant has health problems confirmed by a medical certificate and justifying a change of residence
  • Receivers of active solidarity income or disabled adult allowance
  • Tenants who have been allocated accommodation within personalized housing assistance (APL)

Tenant rights and obligations in France

Rental agreements are legally binding documents between landlords/agencies and tenants. As such, it’s imperative to understand both parties’ obligations for mutual understanding.

In France, the system supports tenants and has put in place guides for renting properties there.  Some tenants’ rights include:

1. Privacy

As a tenant, once you are handed the keys to the property, the landlord is expected to keep off. If they need access, the landlord must ask for your consent. Doing so without permission amounts to trespass, which you can seek legal redress.

2. Acknowledgment of rent paid

The landlord ought to serve you with confirmations or receipts of rent paid. These are important for your records. They can also serve as evidence in case of a dispute.

3. Decent housing

The property under consideration needs to be habitable in that you’re comfortable residing.

Before taking up the property, ensure it has enough lighting and aeration. Overall the house should be in good condition. Discuss any issues with the landlord before taking up the property and ensure your agreement on your concerns is well documented.

4. Repairs and maintenance

The landlord is supposed to carry out major repairs on the property as long as you didn’t cause the damage.

A contract agreement should stipulate when the landlord schedules the routine maintenance on the property, so the tenant is aware in good time.

5. Security

It’s your right as the tenant to have a well-secured property. The landlord shouldn’t expose you to imminent security threats intentionally. For instance, having weak doors or leaving the property easily accessible exposes you to danger.

6. Full-disclosure

The landlord must disclose any clause omitted from the contract form. For instance, any costs that the tenant is expected to remit, such as taxes and insurance. Pending disputes about the property should be disclosed at the commencement of the contract to avoid future disruptions.

As a tenant, you are expected to abide by these obligations:

  • Timely payment of utility bills, rent, and other charges abound
  • Repair any damage you cause on the property
  • Minor repairs and maintenance of the property, for instance, gardening, keeping the property clean and tidy
  • Adhere to terms and conditions set out on the contract
  • Inform the landlord of your intentions to sublet
  • Involve the landlord before bringing in a significant fixture or altering the house structure

Before appending your signature on the contract agreement, ensure you’ve verified all the rights and obligations of both parties are included. 

In addition to the rental agreement, ensure that you also have a copy of the condition statement that shows the overall state of the property in detail. An energy performance report is also critical to monitor the property’s energy consumption and capacity. 

You should also attach a copy of the inventory at the commencement of the contract, as you’ll need it to countercheck when exiting. This helps you avoid being overcharged for fixtures in a poor state.

In case of a dispute or either party fails to honor their part of the bargain, you can contact the Commission Department of Conciliation (CDC) for assistance.

As a tenant in France, ensure you do your part as you may require your previous landlord’s report when moving to your next which may work against you if you’re a stubborn tenant.

Anna

Anna is an experienced expat and writer. She has been living abroad for over 6 years.

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