Finding accommodation in Paris: Part 2

 This is the Louvre. It's a pretty misleading photo to use for a blog on accommodation in Paris because I think they'd frown on your trying to live here (and can you imagine how much it'd cost you to heat this place?!)

This is the Louvre. It's a pretty misleading photo to use for a blog on accommodation in Paris because I think they'd frown on your trying to live here (and can you imagine how much it'd cost you to heat this place?!)

Earlier this month I started a new blog series about the ins and outs of finding an apartment in Paris. So far we've covered the different types of accommodation Paris has to offer, and this week we're going to look at the information you need to provide when you apply to live in a specific apartment. Please note that this is in no way 'official' information, it's just advice sourced from our experience (and that of our friends in Paris). 

Everything you're about to read was written by my friend and astronomy Post Doc Ricarda. She and her partner arrived in Paris not long after us, and they came up against the same set of problems. There's no real resource (that any of us could find, anyway!) that gives an in-depth account of all the hoops you have to jump to when you're an academic moving to Paris. So here it is! Ricarda is a spectacular astronomer, but I think she may also have missed her calling as a writer. Of course we want this resource to be free to everyone which is why I'm hosting it here on my blog, but if you find it helpful and you want to support us in any way, I'm sure Ricarda wouldn't say no to her own cluster or an immediate tenured position (here's her publication record). And if it's astronomically accurate jewellery you're after, I've got you sorted with my Becky, Queen of Frocks shop....

Over to you, Ricarda!


THE DOSSIER

To rent a flat in Paris requires what is called a “dossier”. This is essentially an application file put together to convince your future landlord that you are a respectable, reliable person who will not give them any trouble. In France, it is very difficult to evict tenants once they are in the flat and so landlords tend to be extra careful about who they rent to, especially in a market like Paris where there are usually plenty of applicants per flat.

The dossier needs to include copies of:

  1. Your work contract
  2. Your last 3 payslips (or however many you have already. The more the better)
  3. Receipts for your last 3 rent payments, if possible 
  4. A copy of your passport
  5. A copy of last year's tax statement
  6. Information on your “Garant"

Also useful to include are:

  1. The official piece of paper given to you by your bank with the information on your account number and such (in France that is called a “Releve d’Identite Bancaire”, or RIB. It is frequently requested whenever your bank information is needed).
  2. A certificate showing that you have renters insurance. Insurance makes you look responsible, and is in fact mandatory. Thankfully it is easy to get, as it is offered by pretty much any big insurer and cost on the order fo 10-20 € a month. 

It is worth spending a bit of time on your Dossier as it will be handed to potential landlords and will be a significant part of the impression you make. When putting mine together, I put a little summary on the cover stating our names, phone number, email address, current address and monthly joint income, as well as a letter giving a little background information on us (in French!), and a table of contents to make documents easier to find. Then just print a neat copy, staple it together and take it to viewings with you.

 
 This is the chateau at Fontainebleau. More unrealistic #housegoals.

This is the chateau at Fontainebleau. More unrealistic #housegoals.

 

THE “GARANT”

One big problem for young people coming to France is that French landlords usually ask for a “Garant”, i.e. a guarantor willing to sign the rental agreement with you and promise to pay in case you don’t. Technically this shouldn’t be necessary if your net income exceeds three times the rent but practically you are most likely going to be asked for one anyway if your work contract is limited (“contrat durée determine”, or CDD, instead of “contrat durée indeterminé”, or CDI), or simply because you do not have a financial history here in France.

A FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIEND

Most people simply use their parents as garants but unfortunately your garant has to be living in France to be acceptable (with a few exceptions, discussed below). If you do have a family member or good friend in France who is employed on a fixed contract and has a net income of more than 4 times your rent, this might be the easiest option. You will need to include the same documents for your garant as for yourself in your dossier, including a copy of their passport, their last three pay slips, their work contract and their last tax statement to show they are financially reliable.

There are a few options for those of us (i.e. most of us) who don’t happen to have a handy family member in France.

VISALE

Visale is a French government scheme where the state effectively acts as a garant for young or newly employed people. To get this guarantee, go to https://www.visale.fr/, upload some documents similar to the ones required for your dossier and wait a few days to get a “Visa”. This is an official looking document which states the maximum amount of rent (charges included) up to which Visale is willing to act as guarantor for you. You add this document to your dossier, and explain it to your potential landlords when they ask for a garant.  In my personal experience, Visale works well with private landlords over leboncoin.fr or pap.fr, whereas agencies seemed less keen.  Some people don't like it all and just say flat out no.

A note on renting as a couple: I brought my partner to Paris, who did not have an income at the time of us signing our lease. We put both of our names on the Visale request form, which allowed us to signed the lease for the flat together. Make sure that all people on the Visa end up on the contract, and vice versa.

CAUTION BANCAIRE

A "caution bancaire" is a way for your bank to act as your guarantor. To be willing to do so, the bank opens a special account with you and requires you to deposit a large sum of money (usually one year's worth of rent) into this account. This money will stay locked up on the account for the duration of your lease, so this is only really an option if you have significant savings you don't mind parking there for a few years. During this time the bank takes fees, which will probably be about equal to the amount of interest earned on the deposit, so this is not a good way to invest your money. All major banks should be able to provide this service. This seems to be a good option if you are trying to rent through an agency and have some savings. 

AGENCIES AIMED AT EXPATS

There are several rental agencies for furnished flats in Paris that are specifically aimed at foreigners coming to the city, such as https://www.spotahome.com/ and http://www.lodgis.com/. Their advantage is that they can often be accessed easily from abroad, with pictures online, and the landlords usually speak english and are happier to accept dossiers from foreigners. The downside is that the flats they offer tend to be more expensive than comparable properties on the open market, and they also charge a fee if you actually sign a contract with them. Still, several people have had good experiences with them and it is in many ways certainly an easier option.

Are you thinking of moving to Paris? Check out Part 1 of this series on finding accommodation in Paris. And don't forget to check back next week for more wisdom from Ricarda!

 
 These are apartments just off Boulevard Saint Michel, so you can live like the woman in Peter Sarstedt's 'Where do you go to my lovely'. Carefully designed topless swimsuit, model's own.

These are apartments just off Boulevard Saint Michel, so you can live like the woman in Peter Sarstedt's 'Where do you go to my lovely'. Carefully designed topless swimsuit, model's own.