18. Transfer of the Tenancy of a French Rental Property
In the event of death, or abandonment of the property by the tenant, then it is possible that others have a right to the tenancy of the property.
The rules that apply depend on the nature of the relationship of the applicant to the tenant.
18.1. Married Couples
Even though only one of the parties may have signed the tenancy agreement, the law recognises a joint tenancy from the outset.
Accordingly, in the event of the death of a sole tenant, the tenancy is automatically transferred to the surviving spouse, who need simply inform the landlord of the death of their spouse.
Indeed, the surviving spouse has a right to claim the tenancy even though they may not have been living in the property at the time of death of the tenant.
18.2. Civil Partnerships
Where the tenancy is in a single name and the parties are living together under a French civil partnership, called a Pacte civil de solidarité (PACS), then, in the event of the death of the tenant, or abandonment of the tenancy, the remaining party has continued rights of occupation.
18.3. 'Free Union' Couples
Where the tenancy is in a single name, and the couple are living in ‘free union’, then, as a general rule, on the death of the tenant, or abandonment of the tenancy by them, the remaining party has no automatic right to the tenancy.
However, if they can prove a ‘legal’ concubinage, evidenced in front of a notaire over a least a year previously, and they have occupied the property as their main home since this time, then they have a right to the tenancy.
They share this right with other family members who may be in the property.
These rights do not apply where the tenant has given proper notice to the landlord and terminates the tenancy in accordance with the tenancy agreement. In these circumstances, the remaining party can only stay in the property with the consent of the landlord.
18.4. Other Family Members
Ascendants and descendants of the tenant, who have been living with the tenant for at least one month prior to the death or abandonment, have the right for the tenancy to be transferred to their name.
Where there is potentially more than one beneficiary to a tenancy then, in the absence of agreement, a court of law will determine to whom the tenancy should be transferred, which may be a joint tenancy.
Where no-one is entitled to succeed then the tenancy is automatically terminated.
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