There are various approaches that can be used to dealing with disputes with your landlord.
Clearly, wherever possible it makes sense to try and resolve them directly, if only for the emotional and financial cost that can arise once matters start to spiral out of control into the hands of third parties.
If the matter cannot be resolved amicably, then there are three main approaches that can be taken.
There are three main official advisory services.
a. Housing Information Agency (ANIL)
This is the official government housing advice agency, with offices in most towns of France.
b. County Consumer Protection Dept (DGCCRF)
The trading standards officers are based in your local prefecture.
c. Legal Advice Centre (CDAD)
There are legal advice centres based in most main towns, some of which are free, others of which are only free on a means tested basis.
These advice centres are called Conseil Départemental de l'Accès au Droit (CDAD).
There is an official government sponsored mediation service, called the Commission Départementale de Conciliation (CDC).
The CDCs are based in the préfecture.
As a general rule, if you are considering legal action, then you are obliged to go through the CDC in the first instance to resolve the matter.
You would certainly be best advised to speak to them in the first instance.
Their decisions are not binding on either landlord or tenant, so their ability to resolve disputes is not without some limitations.
If you are considering legal action, indeed, even if you consider some independent legal advice necessary, then you best first stop is a huissier.
This person is effectively a publicly appointed bailiff, although they are not civil servants.
They will not only provide advice on a dispute, but will also be required to serve certain papers from you to the landlord, and from the court to yourself and the landlord.
You need to watch their fees, as, although the majority of their fees are regulated, they can mount up, and some fees are freely negotiable.
There is also a lot of debate about the competence of some huissiers, and as you have to use the nominated huissier for your area, you cannot select another if you are not satisified with them.
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