Apartment rental, cost of living

Paris

The cost of living associated with renting apartments or houses in Paris or Ile de France fall into several categories. This page outlines those various costs and explains what they relate to.

Rent Cost (loyer)
Rent is normally charged on a monthly basis and most landlords like to set up a direct debit from your bank account. Rent may increase on a yearly basis but is linked by law to the ‘construction index’ set out by a national government body (INSEE). This ensures that increases in your rent payments are to some degree protected.

Rent for apartments covers the apartment itself and may also include a cellar or attic room, an exterior or interior parking space and garden area if you are on the ground floor. Associated costs are the building charges described below.

Rent for houses covers the house itself, annex buildings such as sheds garages and the land the property sits on. There may also be additional charges described below.

Deposit Cost (dépot de garantie)
The deposit is a REFUNDABLE payment made to the landlord on signing the lease (prior to moving in). This is a sum of money that will be credited to the landlord’s account and acts as a prepayment to damages that may be caused by the tenant.

Should the tenant not maintain the property as set out in the conditions of the lease, or damage the property in any way, the landlord will retain the equivalent sum of money to restore the property to its original state.

It is therefore essential that a walk through (état des lieux) is conducted on entry and departure to compare the state of the property at these two times. This walk through protects both tenant and landlord alike and is best conducted with an independent solicitor (Huissier). Although employing a huissier tends to add some cost it prevents problems for the tenant when reclaiming his deposit on departure.

The rental deposit, by law, must not exceed the equivalent of TWO months rent EXCLUDING CHARGES (see below). The landlord is obliged to reimburse the deposit or state his reasons for holding it within two months of the termination of the lease contract.

Agency Fees (frais d’agence)
Agency fees cover the involvement of the estate agent from the beginning to the end of the dossier. Fees vary dramatically from 4-16% of the annual rent. Some agents split the cost between landlord and tenant, however the majority charge the total to the tenant. The fees cover advertising costs, visiting time, drafting leases, administration and walkthroughs.

Solicitor Fees (frais d’huissier)
The solicitor’s fees will cover the walkthrough and drafting of the état des lieux. Normally their fees are split between landlord and tenant as the solicitor’s services protect both parties. If you have insisted on a solicitor, where one was not previously arranged – be prepared to pick up the bill. Occasionally the agent will conduct the walk through with a prepared formula – this often suffices, however do not sign unless you are happy that every fault has been accounted for.

Community Tax (Taxe d’habitation)
The Taxe d'habitation is a local community tax that is based on the rental value of the apartment or house you live in as well as the size, state and location of the property. Some deductions are possible depending on your personal and family situation. The proceeds go directly to the local community budget for upkeep of your immediate environment, local services and community buildings.

The occupant (tenant or Owner) on January 1st of the year is liable to pay the tax for that year although the bill (Avis d'imposition) comes in around September. This sometimes causes complications for people moving in or departing in-between January and September. If this tax is not paid by the tenant the landlord becomes liable. If such problems arise common sense and agreements between the parties involved should smooth the just payment of such taxes.

Late payment is penalised heavily, although arrangement can be made for monthly payments.

Building/ Communal Costs (Charges)
Charges usually relate to ongoing costs for upkeep of communal areas for properties where there are several independent tenants: These MAY include the following:

Apartments: Concierge costs, communal electricity for lighting & elevator, water, grounds, and for some buildings with centralised units, heating and hot water may be included.

Houses: Charges will normally only apply if you belong to a private residence or domain and will include the grounds, security, and concierge costs.

Generally the properties are advertised with charges included (charges comprises or CC) but always ask the question when visiting to find out what the charge cost is and what it covers.

You are not liable as a tenant for major repairs or additions to the communal areas. This falls under the responsibility of the owners of the property and is managed by a syndicate.

Utilities
Utility costs will vary as some utilities may be included in your property charges (water, hot water, heating).

Telephone: you will need to pay a line rental fee and depending on the services you subscribe to and your consumption your bills can vary dramatically. Telecommunications are constantly putting out more and more attractive offers and it is worth keeping abreast of these to reduce your bill. (pre determined consumption, low cost abroad, high frequency numbers etc)

Gas and Electricity: If you have a gas boiler, the bills for heating and hot water will tend to be cheaper than if you have an electrical system. HOWEVER as a tenant you are required by law to take out a maintenance contract on the boiler which often offsets the saving. Again costs will depend on consumption and be aware that many of the older buildings in the region are not always well insulated for heat.

Fuel: Some older houses have maintained oil fuel for their central heating and water. Fuel can be delivered to your tank and a maintenance contract will need to be taken for the boiler.

Water: In apartments cold water supplies are always covered in the charges. Independent houses will however require their own contract for water supplies.

Chimneys: If you have a fireplace that is used you must by law have it swept and cleaned once a year. Fuel costs vary but wood can be bought from local specialists and the price will depend on the quality and quantity of the wood.

Television and Internet: Costs will depend on the type of service you require. Be prepared to pay a huge premium for English speaking television. With the plethora of service providers and the speed of technical change, costs are coming down for both services but you will almost always be tied into a years contract so it is very important to choose the right deal from the start. See our section on television and Internet for more details.

Parking
Parking (external or internal) may come with the property and be included in the rent. If not, you have three options.

1) Road parking which is free during the evening, Sundays and holidays and around some residential areas – Residential parking permits are available from the town hall (Mairie) for your area.
2) Private levels in some of the public car parks.
3) Sourcing private parking leased out separately in your area. Costs will vary depending on the area you live in and the type of parking you require.