Guide to Letting Property in France

22. Legal Remedies in France for Arrears of Rent

There are three different legal remedies available for the recovery of arrears of rent.

  1. Injunction
  2. Distraint
  3. Possession Proceedings

These different remedies are not mutually exclusive and it may well pay you to use them in conjunction with one another.

If you have taken out insurance against the non-payment of rent, then you may well find that, under the terms of the contract, responsibility for recovery of rent arrears rests with the insurer. In which case, you merely need to ensure you comply with the terms of that contract to be relieved of the responsibility of having to bring any proceedings yourself.

If you have not taken out insurance then, before you decide on any course of action, make an appointment to discuss the case with the local huissier de justice (official bailiff), whose contact details you will find in the local yellow pages, called pages jaunes. Be careful of charges imposed by them as their costs can easily mount up.

22.1. Injunction - Injonction de Payer

It is possible to apply to a court for an injunction against the tenant to pay the rent.

The procedure is called an injonction de payer.

It is quick, inexpensive and simple to execute, and the government have more recently reinforced the rights of landlords to use injunctions.

However, the use of injunctions proceedings alone does not enable you to recover possession of the property, and neither does it guarantee payment of the rent.

Where judgement is obtained, but the tenant refuses or is unable to pay, then it is possible to proceed to distraint of goods or obtain access to bank funds or salary.

The use of an avocat is not required to bring the action before the court. There is pre-printed form that can be used to bring the case, which you can obtain from the local court.

Nevertheless, unless you feel competent to be able to do so yourself, you would be well advised to seek assistance from a huissier.

The hearing takes place before a Tribunal d’instance, where the claim can be contested by the tenant.

You will need to provide clear evidence of the debt, including copies of registered letters sent to the tenant demanding payment of the rent and a copy of the tenancy agreement.

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