If the property is the principal home of the tenant then the provision of a written tenancy agreement is obligatory.
The tenancy agreement is called a bail (pronounced 'bye'), or more formally a contrat de location.
Many French landlords have their own agreement, or there are standard agreements that can be purchased from most good bookshops.
It is also possible to sign the agreement through a notaire, an approach that does cost a few hundred euros, but offers the possibility of a greater degree of neutrality in the compilation of the agreement.
However, you need to be careful here, for if the landlord may be close to the notaire, so you may wish to choose the notaire.
There are certain clauses which it obligatory to include within a tenancy agreement.
As well as the name of the tenant and details of the property, the agreement must also state the commencement date of the tenancy, the duration of the tenancy, type of use of the property, amount of the rent, amount of the rental deposit, and size of the property (for unfurnished lettings only).
There are a surprising number of clauses that are forbidden by law, including an obligatory payment of the rent by standing order or direct from their salary, and any obligation to take out an insurance policy proposed by the landlord.
It is also illegal for a landlord to refuse to accept domestic pets in the property, whether for an annual tenancy or holiday accommodation
The minimum duration of a tenancy is similarly regulated by law. In the case of unfurnished lettings it is three years; for furnished properties it is one year.
It is possible to have an agreement for only one year, but only if specified in advance, and only for professional or employment related reasons.
Annexed to the tenancy agreement will need to be the condition report and survey reports on the energy performance and asbestos (See later section on 'Surveys').
A holiday letting is referred to as a location saisonnière.
Landlords of holiday lettings are not required to supply a written tenancy agreement, although it is advisable to do so.
However, they are required to provide a full written description of the property, as well as its geographic situation.
The law also regulates the maximum duration of a holiday letting, which cannot be longer than three months, after which it is considered to be the principal residence of the tenant, when of course a more strict regime applies
Next: Condition Report