Published on: 18 September 2023
Join us?Get started
Rent control in France: how to report an abuse?
In 2023, local authorities are encouraging tenants to check that their rent is in line, using online tools and simulators. Landlords must comply with rent controls in many towns and cities, and it is not legal to charge a rent that exceeds the increased reference rent in force. We explain how to recognise and report abuse!
Rent controls: Paris City Council begins to monitor rents
The aim of rent controls in Paris is to reduce rents and make the city more accessible to workers, families and students. But since the measure was introduced in 2015, Paris City Council has not been entirely satisfied with its implementation. It has judged it to be insufficient, especially where small-area accommodation is concerned. Thanks to the 3DS Act of 2022, Paris City Council took over responsibility for monitoring and sanctioning the rent controls from 1 January 2023, replacing the Préfecture, whose control was more limited.
Paris City Council has also launched a website enabling tenants to check that rents are compliant and to report any overruns as part of the rent control framework, together with the necessary supporting documents. The process, which is entirely online, has already resulted in a large number of reports.
Landlords are now being warned that tenants and the local council will be taking a closer look at the rents charged. If it is proved that the rent ceiling has not been respected, the landlord may face various penalties:
- the local council may demand a reduction in the rent and reimbursement of the excess to the tenant;
- if the landlord refuses, he can be fined up to €5,000 for an individual and up to €15,000 for a legal entity (such as a société civile immobilière, or SCI);
- the tenant may also take the matter to court to obtain a reduction in the rent.
Paris City Council is likely to step up its warnings to landlords. As with its fight against illegal tourist lettings, City Hall seems determined to exert constant pressure on landlords in order to achieve its objective of moderating rents in the French capital.
How is rent control monitored in other cities?
In the cities that have implemented rent control by early 2023 (such as Paris, Lille, Plaine Commune, Lyon, Villeurbanne, Est Ensemble, Montpellier and Bordeaux), the situation is fairly similar to that in Paris.
The municipalities are committed and, for the most part, should request and obtain the transfer of powers from the prefecture in order to better control rent controls and penalise excessive rents. Some cities, such as Lille and Bordeaux, have already introduced an online reporting system, while others are providing clear instructions on how to challenge excessive rent, including a model letter for disputing excessive rent or rent supplements.
In short, Parisian landlords will have no reason to envy their counterparts in the regions: they will all be subject to the same rules. In 2023, compliance with the rent control scheme will no longer be an option, but an obligation once a tenancy agreement has been signed!
How are rent controls calculated?
The criteria taken into account
The criteria taken into account to determine the reference rent include the location, the year the property was built and the number of rooms. The year of construction is used to assess the age of the property. There are four construction periods:
- before 1946 ;
- between 1946 and 1970
- between 1971 and 1990;
- after 1990.
For example, for a 3-room flat in the Père-Lachaise district of Paris, the benchmark rent without any increase will be €20.20 per m² if it was built before 1946. If the property was built after 1990, the rate will be €22.70 per m².
The number of rooms also has a significant impact. A one-room flat will generally cost more per square metre than a 3-room flat. For example, an unfurnished one-bedroom flat in the Salpêtrière area, built after 1990, will cost €28.50 per m². For a 3-room apartment with the same geographical characteristics, the price will be €22.80 per m².
Calculating the maximum rent
As part of the rent control process, you must then calculate the maximum rent to check that you are complying with the rent ceiling. This is relatively straightforward, as all you have to do is add 20% to the value of the reference rent on the date you sign the rental agreement. To do this, you need to use the Rent Reference Index (IRL), which gives 3 figures:
- a reduced rent ;
- a reference rent ;
- an increased rent.
Take, for example, an unfurnished 3-room flat in the Salpêtrière area, where the benchmark rent is €22.80 per m². The calculation would be: 22.8 * 0.2 = 4.56. Adding this figure to the reference rent gives €27.4 per m². So, in this example, the maximum rent would be set at €27.4 per m².
If you are dealing with furnished accommodation, the price will be slightly higher. Using the previous example, but with a reference rent of €25.80 per m² for a furnished 3-room flat, the maximum rent could be as much as €31 per m².
Don't hesitate to use an online simulator to find out the maximum amount of your rent and whether or not an increase is possible for your next rental leases!
What should you do if the rent is exceeded?
Rent controls allow tenants to check that their rent is in line with the ceilings set. To do this, the Paris Prefecture has launched a special website. On this site, tenants must provide details such as the number of rooms, the year the building was built and the address to obtain the price range that the landlord must follow to determine the rent.
Rent control only allows a rent supplement to be applied if the property offers exceptional features, such as a large terrace, an exceptional view of a monument, luxurious fittings or ceiling heights of over 3.3 metres.
Landlords are not permitted to ask for additional rent if the property has features such as :
- a toilet on the landing;
- traces of damp on some walls;
- Energy class F or G;
- windows that allow abnormal airflow outside the ventilation grilles;
- facing less than ten metres;
- water infiltration or flooding from outside;
- water drainage problems in the last three months;
- an electrical system in poor condition
- poor exposure of the main room.
How do I report a rent overrun?
Contact the Departmental Conciliation Commission (Commission Département de Conciliation)
If a tenant wishes to dispute a rent supplement, they must do so within 3 months of signing the lease by applying to the Commission Départementale de Conciliation (CDC). This is compulsory in order to attempt conciliation before taking the matter to court.
During this conciliation process, the landlord must prove and justify the characteristics of the property that justify a rent supplement. If an agreement is reached, the amount of the rent with the supplement is set out in a document drawn up by the commission. If no agreement is reached, the tenant has 3 months from receipt of the notice to bring the matter before the "juge des contentieux et de la protection" to request the cancellation or reduction of the rent supplement.
Contact the Paris Prefecture
The Commission Départementale de Conciliation (CDC) is not the only option available. For leases signed after 1 July 2019, if tenants discover that their rent does not comply with the rent control framework, they can refer the matter to the prefecture, which will then contact the landlord. The Paris prefecture may require the lease to be brought into compliance and the excess rent to be returned to the tenant within 2 months. The landlord is then informed of the possible penalties and appeal procedures, and has one month to respond.
For tenancies signed before 1 July, although not subject to rent controls, tenants may nevertheless negotiate a rent reduction with the landlord. If they refuse, the tenant can choose to break the lease, and the landlord will have to comply with the rent control scheme for the next tenant.
Rent controls: what you need to know
In towns with high rental pressure, rent controls help to prevent excessive rents and promote access to housing for all French people. When renewing a lease, landlords must check that the rent is within the maximum ceiling, and tenants can use the tools at their disposal to check that they are not paying an illegal rent supplement.
What law protects tenants?
Law no. 89-462 of 6 July 1989 aims to improve relations between tenants and amends law no. 86-1290 of 23 December 1986.
How do I report an abusive landlord
Any dispute between a tenant and his landlord falls within the remit of the CDC, or a court conciliator. Tenants may also seek the help of an association or a lawyer specialising in tenancy law.