5

My Swiss girlfriend is looking for housing in Paris for a 6 months internship. Many housing agencies she spoke to refuse to accept her Swiss parents as guarantors, despite their salary being sufficient, on the basis that they're not French, and require a French guarantor to sign a contract.

First question: is this legal?

To go around this issue, some agencies have suggested to use GarantMe, a service that allegedly, paying a quite expensive price, will act as a guarantor for you.

Questions:

  • Should she trust this site and service?
  • Is this step really necessary, or there's another way to get housing without a French guarantor?

Another solution would be finding housing with some roommates that already have a contract with the agencies, in France, do landlords require a French guarantor even for a sub-location contract?

Any suggestion will be appreciated, merci!

  • 4
    I cannot answer most of the questions, but to the first, I suppose that requiring the guarantor to be in France is probably legal. The point of a guarantor is that the landlord will collect unpaid rent from the guarantor if the tenant does not pay. If the guarantor is in a foreign country, the ability to pursue the matter in the courts is limited at best. One thing she might consider is offering to pre-pay the entire lease, if her parents have enough cash. Even that might not be acceptable, however, if tenants' possession rights are strong. – phoog Jan 17 at 19:24
  • @phoog thanks for the comment, what do you mean by "entire lease"? The full 6 months of rent? – user2723984 Jan 17 at 19:32
  • 3
    Yes. If she prepays the rent for the entire lease period then there will be no question of having to collect unpaid rent. I don't know anything about landlord/tenant law in France, though, so I have no idea whether such an offer might be helpful there. – phoog Jan 17 at 20:08
  • @phoog I spoke to an American who did his MS in Delft in the Netherlands and faced a similar situation. Housing agencies even refused to accept prepayment of the rent. This might be due to strong tenant rights, which makes it difficult for landlords to force them out if they choose to stay. – Eric Jan 17 at 23:42
  • 1
    I won't give an answer yet because I don't have the complete links (a bit hard to do on my phone) but: yes, if memory serves me right, they can refuse someone to be guarantor not because they are not French, but rather because they do not reside / not fiscally resident in France. – ar5975 Jan 18 at 5:58
5

As promised, I am completing my comment with an answer.

As @audionuma mentioned, the housing market in Paris is quite difficult, even for locals.

Indeed, it is technically illegal to refuse a guarantor because s/he is not French or doesn't live in France. Here is what the law states (article 22-1 of the law regarding rentals, modified by the latest version called the "loi Alur"):

Lorsqu'un cautionnement pour les sommes dont le locataire serait débiteur dans le cadre d'un contrat de location conclu en application du présent titre est exigé par le bailleur, celui-ci ne peut refuser la caution présentée au motif qu'elle ne possède pas la nationalité française ou qu'elle ne réside pas sur le territoire métropolitain.

In English

Where a guarantor for the sums owed by the lessee under a lease made under this law is required by the lessor, the lessor may not refuse the guarantor on the grounds that s/he does not possess French nationality or that s/he does not reside on the metropolitan territory.

However, you would be hard-pressed to find an individual landlord, let alone an agency, who would easily accept this. As mentioned in the previous answer, all other things being equal between 10 different applications, they would take the easy path. And the legal process to force them to accept would last longer than the 6 months that your girlfriend will be in France (and they know this, obviously).

The guarantor is often required by landlords, there's no way around it. I have never tried GarantMe and other things like this...so I wouldn't be able to give you a proper answer.

  1. If she really wants her own apartment, she can get a VISALE, which is a state-backed security deposit. It's relatively new, so some private owners might not know about it (more info in English, here: https://www.campusfrance.org/en/VISALE-free-security-deposit-for-students).

  2. Another alternative is a "caution bancaire": basically it's like a time deposit where you would be putting 6 months of rent in an account and use that as a guarantee...but she would have to do this with a French bank and sometimes they make it difficult to get the money back after you leave France...(my friend had this experience).

For the alternative places to rent (@audionuma already gave some answers, particularly the networking, etc. so I will just complete it).

  1. I found (when I was still a student) that the CROUS residences are hard to get since these residences are also for low-income French students on scholarships, so obviously they are the priority.

One other student residence alternative if she is at least a Master's degree student is the Cité Universitaire, and particularly the Fondation Suisse house. They have quotas for nationals (in this case Swiss nationals) so there's a chance she could get one there

(my former intern did this. She was a Master's student in Italy, but got a room in the Canadian house since she was Canadian)/.

  1. She could also give the private student residences a shot. The most famous one is ADELE.

  2. Given the 6-month time frame, renting an apartment with an individual owner might be a bit difficult. But she could try out pap.fr (be prepared to speak in French directly to the owner).

  3. The sub-rental is another definite possibility (called a sous-location). There are many in Paris (usually French students who go on exchange or internship overseas do this). Your girlfriend could check out student forums and other websites.

  4. Co-location is another way. She could check out: http://www.lacartedescolocs.fr/

(There are more websites for this, aside from lacartedescolocs).

  1. The high-priced furnished rentals often used by expats and diplomats that were mentioned. Here are a few examples:

(in no way am I sponsoring or vouching for them...Being a local, I have never tried them myself but a colleague of mine used Paris Attitude when she first arrived and said it's ok).

However, these end up quite a bit more expensive than your usual rental.

Hope this helps.

  • Wow! Thank you for all these links! We'll look into all of this (by the way, we both speak French so feel free not to translate terms!) – user2723984 Jan 18 at 9:39
  • 2
    @user2723984 You may speak French, but future users with a similar problem may not (or may not be as strong). It is thus very helpful if answers translate terms into English. – Martin Bonner Jan 18 at 10:08
  • 1
    You're welcome @user2723984. Indeed, I translated the relevant parts for future reference for non-French speakers, and I deliberately chose pages where there is an English translation already, as much as possible. But since you speak French, then that would definitely facilitate the search for other websites. – ar5975 Jan 18 at 10:18
  • I didn't think of that, I just thought it would be less work for you if you didn't have to translate, but it does make sense for future users – user2723984 Jan 18 at 10:40
5

(Partial answer)

As mentioned on https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F31267, it is legal for the owner to require a garantor (a caution), notice that it is not mandatory.

La présentation d'une caution n'est pas une obligation légale.

Toutefois, un bailleur peut exiger la présence d'une caution pour louer son logement. En pratique, c'est souvent le cas y compris si vous êtes candidat à un logement social.

It is also explicitly mentioned that the caution cannot be rejected because they are not French.

le propriétaire ne peut pas refuser la caution au seul motif que cette personne ne possède pas la nationalité française.

There is also a template letter for the caution.

It is explicitly mentioned that the documents that the caution must provide should be redacted or translated into French and that monetary values should be in euros. (See https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1169, Documents demandés à la caution tab).

il est possible de fournir une copie des documents originaux. Les documents doivent être rédigés ou traduits en français, et les montants inscrits convertis en euros. Toutefois, le propriétaire a le droit d'exiger la présentation de l'original des documents.

So from the legal point, there's no obstacle to Swiss parents being caution for their daughter in France.

Now, let's face some issues:

Paris area housing market is notoriously very difficult, even for natives. Given ten candidates with similar credentials, the agency or owner will probably go the easy path (ie french caution with french credentials). Expect high prices.

The standard contract for furnished apartment in France is one year long. Looking for a six months rent adds to the difficulty. You are in a zone between short-term and long-term.

Paris has begun to enforce a 120 day a year maximum duration for private owners renting their apartments thru airbnb or similar platforms. That might limit the opportunity to find a six months offer on such platforms.

Possible workarounds:

Networking: see what help or advice the place where your friend is doing her internship can provide. Maybe some people working there do have a room to rent or a sub-location (known as colocation in French) to share ?

edit

About networking : many corporations or school in France do have some sort of informal classified ads in place. That might be a panel close to the coffee machine where one can pin an ad or an electronic mailing list, .... I would suggest to get in touch with her contact at the place of internship and ask whether such a system actually exists and if her contact could publish her request.

end edit

As for the guarantee agency you mention, I cannot give any feedback. It seems legit, and they mention that you only pay their fee when the renting contract is signed, so the risk seems low.

Use agencies dedicated to this type of mid duration rent. They are usually used by high profile customers (diplomatic corp, corporations) so the cost will accordingly be high, but you can nevertheless check what their offers are.

If the internship is part of a university course and your friend has a student status, see whether there might be offers from students bodies like http://www.crous-paris.fr/logements/nos-logements/. Chances are low because it is in high demand, but there might be useful advice from this kind of institution.

  • Hi! Thank you for the answer, the situation doesn't seem good. If I understood correctly the first half of it, what the landlords are doing is technically illegal, right? Although, I guess there's no easy way to use this to our advantage. And probably the primary reason is not that they don't have French nationality, but that they do not reside in France, as someone in the comments pointed out. Regarding what you said about private owners that used to rent on airbnb, do you know where I can look into that? – user2723984 Jan 18 at 7:41
  • @user2723984 see airbnb.fr/help/article/1383/responsible-hosting-in-france for example. Vous pouvez louer votre résidence principale en totalité pour un maximum de 120 jours par an. Vous pouvez louer une chambre dans votre résidence principale sans limite de durée, soit 365 jours par an – audionuma Jan 19 at 8:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.