19. Termination of Tenancy - French Rental Property
19.1. Termination by Landlord
There are specific procedures for termination of the tenancy by both the landlord and tenant that must be respected in order for them to have the force of law.
This applies particularly in the case of the landlord notice of termination, where it is imperative that the notice is correctly drafted and sent out at the right time, or you risk that it may be declared invalid by a court of law, in which case the tenancy would be automatically renewed!
In addition, in the cases of elderly tenants, there is potentially a rehousing obligation for the landlord.
The advice and assistance of a huissier or managing estate agent in the termination process is highly recommended.
The landlord is unable to terminate the tenancy before the expiry of the term, although recovery of possession of the property on grounds of breach of the tenancy agreement is possible, and is considered in the section on Legal Proceedings.
The minimum notice period (called le congé) that must be given by a landlord depends on whether it is a furnished or unfurnished letting.
- Unfurnished Letting - Six months
- Furnished Letting - Three months
This notice period starts either six or three months prior to the expiry date of the tenancy, depending on type of letting. If you miss the window to give notice, the tenancy is automatically renewed.
The notice must be sent by recorded delivery or delivered by a huissier, and must state the reasons why the landlord wishes to recover possession.
There are only three grounds at the end of the term of the tenancy on which the landlord can recover the property, failing which the tenancy automatically renews itself, provided the tenant wishes to remain in the property.
In the case of an unfurnished letting, renewal is for a further three years, (six years in the case of letting by a property company) or for a further year in the case of a furnished letting.
The three grounds for termination of the tenancy are:
I. Landlord Occupation
A landlord can terminate a tenancy to provide accommodation for themselves and/or a close relative.
A ‘close relative’ of the landlord is their spouse, partner, parents or children, or the parents and children of their spouse or partner.
If the landlord is a property company (SCI) then only those family members who are shareholders of the company are considered eligible. So an SCI cannot give notice on the basis of providing accommodation for a relative who is not also a shareholder of the company.
The details of the prospective occupant must be stated in the notice of termination.
II. Sale of Property
The landlord can also terminate the tenancy at the end of the term in order to sell the property with vacant possession.
In the case of an unfurnished letting the sitting tenant has the right of first refusal, provided the property is their principle home. Accordingly, this right does not apply to furnished lettings.
The right of first refusal is at the price sought by the landlord although, if the tenant can prove that the price is blatantly excessive, the notice of termination could be nullified.
The landlord is obliged to advise the tenant of the price and conditions of sale and there are procedures to which the landlord must adhere. You would need to take advice from the local huissier.
The tenant has two months to accept and proceed with the sale. This period is increased to four months if the purchase is being funded with a mortgage.
If the tenant does not take up the offer, but the landlord accepts another offer at a lower price than that offered to the tenant, then the tenant must once again be given the first right of refusal on the new terms.
The offer must be made available for one month with a further two months (or four in case of mortgage) to complete the transaction.
No right of pre-emption for the tenant exists where the purchaser is a close relative of the landlord.
In the event that the tenant does not vacate the property at the end of the term, then the landlord may well be obliged to commence legal proceedings for possession.
Clearly, these may take some time to complete and during this period it is unlikely that any sale of the property could proceed (let alone occupation by a family member(s).
III. Breach of Tenancy Condition
If the tenant has not complied with the tenancy conditions then the landlord can refuse to renew the tenancy at the expiry of the term (or during the term), and give due notice of termination.
If this occurs it is likely to be contested by the tenant, and the landlord may need to take legal proceedings for possession and possibly eviction of the tenant.
In which case, it is immperative all matters are fully documented and that the advice of a huissier is taken.
Where the tenant is at least 65 years old and on a income then the landlord must provide suitable alternative accommodation.
The test of resources is based on the maximum income that would grant entitlement to social housing, which varies by size of household and location.
In the case of a couple living outside of the Ile de France the maximum income threshold is €25,930 (2014).
This rule applies for both unfurnished and furnished accommodation, provided the latter is the principal residence of the tenant.
The age of the tenant is that at the end of the contract, whilst the resources test is that applicable at the date of notification of termination of the tenancy.
The rule on alternative accommodation does not apply where the landlord is at least 65 years old, or of modest means, with the same resources test as that of the tenant.
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