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I've just started researching how to rent in France, and I've found a few references to needing something called a "dossier". When I've mentioned to a someone French where I was planning to move to, he said "ah, you'll be fine, your dossier doesn't need to be nearly as big as for Paris".

It seems I'm just expected to automatically know what one of these things is... But as someone who isn't isn't French, and new to France, I don't!

What is this all-important "dossier", and how do I go about getting one / putting one together?

  • Simply said, it's the paperwork (literally the folder, the file) you need to provide to the landlord to prove that you're his best choice. Don't forget to vote for the post that best answers your question ;-) – zmo Jul 25 '14 at 0:00
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“Dossier” simply means “file” implying all the documents you need to submit or even simply your “case”. It's not something you get and use everywhere but just whatever you need to put together for a given purpose. A little more context would therefore be needed to give more details.

For example, in the sentence “your dossier doesn't need to be nearly as big as for Paris”, I would interpret that as meaning that landlords won't expect as many guarantees/documents but there is really no canonical list of things you should submit. To a point, it's up to the landlord to decide what they are satisfied with (almost all ask for salary slips, some might want a resume, guarantees from additional people, etc.) Here is a webpage on what landlords can and cannot ask (in French).

I think that all this is the result of the lack of credit rating system and rather restrictive laws on debt recovery and tenant eviction, leaving landlords with a strong need to thoroughly vet potential tenants themselves. In a tight market like Paris, it means they can be very picky and ask for quite a lot of information.

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The dossier is just a bunch of documents. Generally they ask for:

  • a work contract, or some document proving you have a job
  • proof of your salary (either 3 last paychecks, or your work contract again)
  • proof that you paid your taxes, if you lived in france before
  • a copy of your Carte de Séjour or other ID (passport or EU id)
  • usually a copy of your RIB (bank account id number, so that they can do something like a credit check)
  • the same info for a co-signer (which annoyingly they often require if you make less than 3x the rent)

It's a good idea to bring a copy of all of those, neatly stapled together, that you can hand directly to them if needed. They also usually accept it all in PDF form via email. Some agents/landlords will ask for other info too, so it's always a moving target...

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