Guide to Letting Property in France

12. Duration of Tenancy

The law on the duration of the tenancy varies depending on the type of tenancy:

12.1. Unfurnished Lettings

12.2. Furnished Lettings

12.3. 'Mobility' Lettings

12.1. Unfurnished Lettings

The minimum period for an unfurnished tenancy is three years, or six years if the landlord is a property company.

This does not imply that the tenant is obliged to stay in the property and pay rent on it for a minimum three year period. It means simply that the landlord cannot grant a tenancy for a lesser period.

Notwithstanding this general rule, the tenancy can be less than three years, subject to a minimum of one year, where the landlord needs to later recover the property for a very specific and certain purpose that is known at the time the tenancy is granted.

There are only a limited number of such circumstances where this rule can be applied, such as use of the property by a close relative, for the birth of a child necessitating a larger home, or for occupational reasons.

A ‘close relative’ of the landlord is defined as their spouse, partner or parents and children or parents and children of their spouse or partner.

The prospective sale of the property is not one of the reasons that can be used for a reduced duration tenancy.

In order to realise this exemption, a minimum of two months notice must be given to terminate the tenancy and the name and address of the prospective occupant(s) must be given on the notice.

The notice must either be given in writing by recorded deliver letter (lettre recommandée avec avis de reception) from the landlord or delivered by a huissier (an official bailiff).

If the event occurs later than that anticipated when the tenancy agreement was signed then the landlord is obliged to extend the duration of the tenancy by the same period.

If the anticipated event does not materialise, or the landlord does not give two months notice before the end of the tenancy, the tenancy automatically becomes a three-year tenancy from the original commencement date.

If you intend to make use of this provision, you would be well-advised to have the tenancy agreement prepared in front of a notaire, as careful drafting of the agreement will be required.

12.2. Furnished Lettings

The tenant is entitled to minimum duration of tenancy of one year, (nine months for students), provided the property is the principal residence of the tenant.

At the end of this period the tenancy, in the absence of other action or arrangement, the tenancy is automatically renewed for another year.

If the property is not the principal residence of the tenant, the tenancy can be for any term you both decide.

All tenants benefit from a right to a written tenancy agreement, provided it is their principal residence.

12.3. 'Mobility' Lettings

Since 2018, when the Loi Elan came into force there is now a third type of tenancy, called the ‘bail mobilité’ - ‘mobility lease’.

It only applies to furnished rentals, and it is only available to certain groups.

Accordingly, those to whom a bail mobilité apply are those:

  • in higher education;
  • undertaking professional training or an internship;
  • employees who are on temporary secondment;
  • employees transferring job;
  • undertaking civic service.

The mobility lease is concluded for a period of one to ten months, non-renewable beyond 10 months by either the tenant or the landlord.

In the event that the owner and tenant agree to renew the tenancy, it will automatically become a furnished one-year renewable tenancy.

The level of the rent for such a tenancy is freely determined between landlord and tenant, subject to the general controls on rent levels that exist in some areas of housing shortage.

Only the tenant may terminate the mobility lease before its term, subject to one month's notice.The owner, on the other hand, is engaged until the end of the lease term.

The term 'bail mobilité' be included in the letting agreement.

The law excludes the payment of a damage deposit (dépôt de garantie).

The new tenancy offers no new accelerated procedure for evicting a tenant if they breach their tenancy obligations. As with other tenancies the landlord is required to commence possession proceedings in the local court.

Where the property is a co-tenancy, the tenants are not jointly and severally liable.

The tenancy offers no exemption from many other landlord obligations, notably the requirement to provide survey reports (diagnostics) to the tenant.

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