15. Landlord Repairing Obligations on a French Rental Property
15.4. Landlord/Tenant Disputes in France
If the landlord fails to carry out their repairing or other obligations then, in the first instance, the tenant has recourse to the Commission Départementale de Conciliation (CDC) at the préfecture.
As a general rule, the tenant is not entitled to withhold the payment of rent or other charges.
Some tenants do so, and sometimes they get away with it in the courts. However, as a general rule, the courts expect a tenant to bring the case before them, without taking unilateral action to withhold the rent.
The tenant may make application for the rental payments be paid into a blocked bank deposit account, pending resolution of the problem but, again, the courts normally prefer to order execution of the works by the landlord.
Where the tenant has exhausted all means of amicable resolution then they can proceed to a Tribunal d’instance for resolution of the problem.
The tenant is also entitled to carry out urgent works of repair to bring the property up to a habitable standard.
However, before they do so, they are obliged to set out to the landlord details of condition, the proposed works, together with the estimated cost.
The landlord has two months to respond, either by advising that they will undertake the works, or by making application to a Tribunal d’instance of their opposition to the planned works.
If the tenant does undertake the works, they have the right to demand reimbursement at the end of the tenancy.
The level of reimbursement will be that as set out on the invoice(s), less an allowance of 6% for each year of occupation subsequent to completion of the works.
In relation to day-to-day repair works that are the responsibility of the landlord then, either prior agreement with landlord, or authorisation by a Tribunal d’instance is required. If the court does grant consent, the cost of works can be deducted from the rent due.
The general rule that the tenant cannot withhold the rent does not apply in the highly exceptional circumstances where the mairie, in collaboration with the préfecture, determine that the dwelling is insalubrious and a danger to the health of its occupants.
In these circumstances the landlord can be obliged by the local authority to rehouse the occupants and undertake remedial work to the property.
In default, the public authorities can undertake the work and recharge the landlord.
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