By Jade Mouton
One of the relevant pieces of legislation detailing the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants in France is the Loi du 6 juillet 1989, a piece of legislation which on the 6th of July 1989 amended the previous legal framework on landlord-tenant relations in France. This piece of legislation is supplemented by the Loi Alur of 2014 which amended the previous legislation to strengthen access to a dwelling. Several fundamental rights of tenants and regulations on the content of tenancy contracts emerge from this legislation. Being aware of these legal protections is essential for first time tenants, but the language of the legislation can be opaque.
The legislation details certain clauses considered exploitative which may not be included in a tenancy contract. Article 4 of the loi du 6 juillet 1989 states that this include clauses which force the tenant to pay the rent via a direct debit bank transfer, clauses forcing the tenant to adopt an dwelling insurance plan chosen by the landlord, clauses banning the tenant from participating in political, trade-unionist, or associative activities, clauses obligating the tenant to fund the instalment of gas, electricity, or water equipment themselves, or clauses which obligate the tenant to pay in advance for repairs in the flat which the landlord will estimate the cost for. Tenants should closely read all tenancy agreement contracts for any clauses which would be deemed illegal under this article.
Article 15 of the loi du 6 juillet 1989 details the conditions for the termination of a tenancy agreement. The landlord has a right to terminate the tenancy agreement under certain conditions: They must justify the termination through either plans to sell or move back into the housing or through another legitimate and serious justification. The landlord must give notice of this termination at least 6 months in advance, unless otherwise specified in the tenancy agreement. The tenant also has the right to terminate the tenancy contract at any time, with a 3 month advance notice in most cases (and 1 month notice in some exceptions including for health reasons or change in employment) unless otherwise specified in the tenancy agreement.
Article 6 sets out the criteria for a “decent” dwelling, the minimum state or quality it must have to be rentable. These criteria include that it must have a habitable surface of at least 9 square meters (and a volume of 20 cubic meters) and must meet the minimum standard for heating and electricity access. Furthermore, the landlord has an obligation under article 3 to have diagnostics performed on the energy performance, suitability towards health and safety requirements, and on the electricity and gas equipment.
Articles 3, 5, and 25 detail requirements for “l'état des lieux”, or the inventory inspection at the beginning and at the end of the tenancy. The tenant can request that this inspection be completed within the 10 first days of the tenancy, and can request to supplement the information on the state of the heating equipment within the first month of using heating in the dwelling.
Article 22 explains the handling of the security deposit, an aspect of the tenancy which is especially difficult to navigate for students leaving an apartment. The security deposit may not be a sum higher than 1 months rent, and must be returned to the tenant (after having subtracted costs for damages to the dwelling) no more than 2 months after the end of the tenancy.
The legislation also details obligations of tenants towards the landlord. These include the obligation to pay rent on time, to not modify the apartment, to respect the surroundings and neighbors by peacefully using the space, to answer for damage and losses that occur during the term of the rental contract, to sign up for at least the minimum insurance for the dwelling (covering damage due to flooding, fires, explosions), and to maintain the state of the dwelling.
References from https://www.e-gerance.fr/loi-6-juillet-1989/, Loi n° 89-462 du 6 juillet 1989