The lease agreement
Before you move in, you’re going to conclude a contract with your landlord to lay the terms and conditions of your stay in his property: it’s done through the lease agreement.
There are different types of leases. As an international student, it’s the bail meublé étudiant that concerns you: it’s a lease specifically for students. It applies to furnished apartments and has a duration of 9 months, whereas the non-student lease for a furnished apartment is valid 12 months.
The lease is surrounded by legal formalism, so it would be unwise to draft it yourself. You can use a standard lease model that you’ll find just here: (link to the lease model). All you have to do is add details of the concerned parties, the amount of rent and some particular clauses if needed, as long as they’re not unfair.
Is it compulsory to sign a lease agreement?
Yes, it’s a mandatory requirement to occupy your home! Renting an apartment without a lease agreement puts you in danger, since neither you or your landlord would be required by law to fulfill your obligations.
What are the mandatory contents?
Your lessor’s contact details. If it’s a real estate agency or a residence managing the property, their details should appear on the lease too.
The effective date: it corresponds to the date you start occupying the apartment. It is for you to define it with the landlord.
The duration: 9 months for a furnished student lease.
The amount of the lease deposit: it’s not mandatory, but it has to be specified in the lease if your landlord plans on asking it.
Informations regarding the apartment:
whether it’s a group housing or not
Number of main rooms
Modalities concerning heating and hot water production
surface of living space
whether the building is wired or coupled to optical fibre
Description of premises and equipments: you can be held accountable only for damage occurring in the spaces you have access to, that’s why it’s important that they’re thoroughly described in the lease. Common areas have to be listed too (bicycle storage, elevator, laundry... )
Prior renovation : if renovations were made since the last tenant left, your lessor has to indicate their nature and their cost in the lease. This serves to you lessor if he needs to justify the potential increase in rent, or to you if you need to demonstrate the lack of maintenance if the place is in bad condition.
terms of payment:
the date on which you have to pay
the fact you can pay by any means you wish (check, transfer, cash up to 1000€) : the lessor doesn’t have the right to impose a method of payment on you - particularly not direct debit.
The last tenant’s rent amount and date of payment, except if he left the place more than 1 year and a half ago. This helps ensure that the lessor hasn’t unjustifiably increased the rent.
What are the unfair clauses?
There are some clauses you should not accept in your lease agreement. Here are a few examples:
forbidding pets (unless they’re attack dogs. But you don’t need an attack dogs to protect yourself from the French. You’re not allowed to have monkeys, snakes or spiders, but we’re sure you can do without that).
imposition of an insurance company chosen by the lessor: he has the right to demand your insurance certificate, but he can’t tell you which insurance company to contract with.
imposition of visiting rights exceeding 2 hours: when the apartment is available for rent or sale, the lessor has a visiting right even if you’re still occupying the apartment. But he can’t ask you more than 2 hours of visit a day, and can’t impose visits on public holidays either.
imposition of a method of payment: you can pay your rent with the method of payment you choose.
interdiction of hosting people.
Some lessors will try having you sign a date of entry into effect prior to your arrival in the apartment, on the grounds that its the only way to secure your place. You don’t have to accept this condition: it can backfire against you if the lessor accuses you of not having paid the rent whereas you weren’t actually occupying the place.
For a bail meublé étudiant (furnished student lease), you have to respect a one month notice period to inform your landlord that you’re leaving the apartment and thus breaking the contract.
If the rent indicated on the lease differs from the one on the offer you saw, it means the highest rent includes rent expenses.
What should I do if my landlord doesn’t mention a lease agreement?
The absence of written contract is problematic. Legally, you can have a verbal lease, but that exposes your landlord and you to too many risks. It isn’t normal that your landlord doesn’t suggest a written lease. Check whether he didn’t just forgot discussing it with you, and if he’s reluctant… find another apartment.
Should I sign the lease agreement before moving in?
Yes, the signing of the lease often occurs before the check-in inventory and moving in. The date of signature doesn’t equal the date the rent starts.