Guide to Letting Property in France

7. Selecting Your Tenant

If you are accustomed to letting holiday accommodation in France, you will generally not have given too much consideration to the selection of your tenants.

Indeed, in many cases, you will have only been too pleased to have let the property at all!

It is a completely different ball-game when it come to letting on a long term basis.

Given the security of tenure afforded to tenants, it is the most difficult issue and the most important priority in the whole process.

It is rarely an easy decision, particularly in circumstances where market conditions are difficult and where employment conditions and family relationships have become increasingly unstable.

Clearly, it depends on the market in which you operate – with greater risks at the bottom end of the market, and in the French market, than in the international market.

Let us not exaggerate – the vast majority of tenants meet their rental obligations most of the time, but the problem of non-payment is on the increase and, as tenants have strong protection against eviction, you need to be cautious.

Accordingly, whatever the market in which you operate, select your tenant with care.

In our experience you should be cautious about taking at face value anything you are told. You need to follow it up and dig deeper to get the confirmation you need.

You are entitled to ask a prospective tenant to supply details of their income such as copy of employment contract, salary statement, company accounts and/or income tax returns.

However, there are severe limits on other supporting documentation that you can demand from them.

One of the most surprising documents you cannot demand is a reference from a previous landlord confirming that they have no outstanding arrears of rent with them!

The other documents you cannot insist on include the following:

  • Photographic identity card;
  • Social security card;
  • Bank statements or bank reference;
  • Employer reference;
  • Authorisation to pay rent by direct debit;
  • Divorce judgement or marriage contract;
  • Medical records

You would be well advised to get several related pieces of original evidence (not photocopies), so you can ensure the validity and accuracy of the information, e.g. salary slip and income tax return.

There is an expectation amongst the French that they will be asked for supporting information. This may not be the case with international tenants, but the law does not distinguish between nationalities when it comes to the non-payment of rent!

You need to make an assessment of the stability of their income, including the length of time with their existing employer, or how long their business as been established and the market in which it operates.

If you consider the prospective tenant does not have the means to meet their rental obligations then you are entitled to refuse to grant a tenancy.

If you are concerned about ability to pay, you can ask a prospective (French) tenant to provide a third party guarantor.

You can also take out insurance against the non-payment of rent for both French and international tenants, although in the later case with greater difficulty.

Both these options are considered in detail in the section on Protection against the Non-payment of Rent.

Next: Preparation of Tenancy Agreement

Back: Finding Tenants

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