Signing the accommodation contract
The accommodation contract (known in French as le bail) defines both the tenant and the landlord’s rights and responsibilities. It includes, amongst other points, the following details:
- The description of the accommodation
- The length of the rental period and the eventual possibility of renewal of the contract
- The price of the rent and related charges (heating, lighting, cleaning, etc.)
- The amount of the deposit to be paid
- The date of payment for the rent and related charges
- Procedures for departure and the notice period to be respected to terminate the rental contract.
The inventory (known in French as l’état des lieux) is a document that is included as an appendix to the rental contract. It must be completed in your presence. It specifies the state of the accommodation when you arrive. When you leave, a new inventory will be carried out. Comparing these two documents will determine the amount of your deposit (la caution) that will be returned to you. The landlord may deduct from the deposit the costs of any repairs for which the tenant is responsible and/or any costs which have not been paid (late rent payments, household waste tax, etc.). The maximum deadline for the return of the deposit by the landlord is 2 months after the tenant has returned the keys.
Students admitted to a flat or apartment undertake to:
- Pay their rent and charges under the terms of the contract;
- Provide proof of a rental insurance policy when the landlord requests this;
- Respect the rules for communal life as described in the internal regulations of the residences. Students are free to come and go as they please and may receive visitors. However, the right to occupy the accommodation is strictly personal and cannot be transferred to another person.
Students also undertake to pay the various costs and taxes related to the occupation of their accommodation:
- Electricity & Gas (EDF/GDF): an estimated bill can be paid every two months, or monthly payments are possible;
- Water: provisional water costs are usually included in your rental charges. The final cost’s regularization is made once a year based on the real amount of water you have used. If the water meter is in your name, you will receive a bill every 6 months.
- Housing tax (Taxe d’habitation): this tax is payable at the end of the year for any occupancy of accommodation from January 1st of the current year.
- Household waste tax (Taxe d’ordures ménagères) in most cases, this is included in the provisional charges.
(*) EDF/GDF: these are the acronyms for the French electricity and gas companies
Leaving the accommodation
If you have to leave the accommodation before the expected date, you must notify your landlord of your date of departure and respect the notice period stated in the contract. Please note that French law requires a notice period of one month for a furnished apartment). The letter notifying your landlord of your date of departure must be sent as a registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt (one lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception).
In all cases, you must also:
- Make an appointment to carry out the departure inventory and return the keys ;
- Notify the electricity board EDF and the water service (if relevant) of your departure ;
- Notify your insurer and all administrative organizations (CAF, the Prefecture de police, student ‘mutuelle’ insurance organization, etc.)
For residences or private rentals:
- Deposit: 1 month’s rent without the related charges.
- Rental insurance (civil responsibility, fire, water damage, etc.): this is compulsory. You must provide your landlord with an insurance certificate on the day you take possession of the accommodation—the average cost of this insurance policy: 50€ per year.
- The owner or accommodation rental company may ask you to provide a guarantor. This person must prove that s/he has regular income in France and undertakes to pay all your obligations (rent, taxes, damage, etc.) if you do not fulfill all your responsibilities as a tenant.
- Opening various utility meters (electricity, gas, water) is not included in the rental charges—average cost: 40€.
- Housing tax (Taxe d’habitation): this tax is payable at the end of the year. Average cost: one month’s rent for any occupier who was in the accommodation on January 1st
Housing benefits and subsidies
The accommodation proposed by IEF entitles students to benefit from a housing subsidy known as the “Aide Personnalisée au Logement – APL.” International students may apply for this subsidy provided that they possess a valid resident’s permit (titer de séjour). However, students from countries outside the European Union who have a Visa D which stipulates « dispense temporaire de carte de séjour » may not apply for the APL. In situations where the host family is itself a recipient of the APL, the subsidy cannot be paid to the student.
As soon as you have signed your rental contract (bail) you can make your application to the Caisse d’Allocations Familiales (CAF) (4 bis, avenue du Général Leclerc / 17073 LA ROCHELLE Cedex 9, or by Internet).
You will be entitled to receive the housing subsidy from the first day of the month after your initial arrival at the accommodation. For example, if you moved in between September 1st and 30th, your right to housing allowance will start on October 1st, and you will receive the payment the following month. To not lose your right to the housing subsidy, don’t delay in making your application.