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Rental deposits/ legal basis (english solicitor?)

Posted by Jacob - Created: 15 years ago
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I've just moved down here (barely two weeks ago) and rented the first decent appartment I found. This may have been a mistake beacuse the agency is (it seems to me) messing around. If anyone can reccommend an english solicitor/lawyer who can try and cut through the confusion it would be most helpful. Or perhaps some of you may have advice?Basically the agency appears to use an underwriter (lloyds...) to insure themselves against non-payment of rent, I don't know if this is normal or not but it seems like too much red tape to me, anyway their insurers didn't want to accept my dossier because I didn't pay tax in France. So they said they'd take a deposit equal to two years rent (!) but after a local friend of mine pointed out to them that this would make it next to impossible for anyone foreign to ever live here they reconsidered and said they'd accept a years rent up front (along with the usual two months deposit and 1 month agency fee). I accepted this purely beacuse I didn't have many options and was running out of time. We signed the contract and I now have two receipts - the caution/agency fee equal to three months rent, and another for a years rent, albeit the latter reciept says it is for another caution. Wherein lies the problem, having signed the contract (a perfectly normal three year rental contract with no modifications) they decided they'd made a mistake and actually still wanted me to pay rent. Well friggin heck, - I ain't letting them keep a year of rent only to have to pay rent as well. They've just recapitulated and said they'd keep six moths. Still not happy thus I want to know where I stand. I had suggested to them that it was their fault and if they're paticuarily worried to redo the contract as a year in which case there shouldn't be a problem as I've already paid.My limited french is however being strecthed to its limits in dealing with this matter and as I don't have any legal knowledge in such things I thought it's time for someone who knows their stuff to take over...Any feedback welcomed!// Jacob

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4 replies (Showing replies: 1 to 4)

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Posted by Toasty-184393 - 15 years ago

In one case I know of, the agents asked for the equivilent of 18 months rent to be put into an special bank account held by the tennant.   The agent can only have access to it if they defaulted on the rent, and the tennant can not access it until the end of the contract.   This seems a lot fairer and safer than paying a huge amount of rent in advance to the agent.  The rent would be paid as normal plus two months deposit.    The reason they were given is that the tennant is too well protected by the law, as mentioned before.
Toasty

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Posted by Jacob - 15 years ago

The paperwork and deposits, fees, etcetera, I expected afterall that's no different than in England (my dossier was entirely in order, bank accounts, payslips P60s and suchlike - except for the French tax aspect). I hadn't really expected to pay rent up front, but hey I don't mind that too much. What I'm hesitant about is that I have now paid the rent up front (for a year), but now that the contract has been signed the agency has said that the money was in fact not for the rent, which is due to internal confusion - their management said it was for a caution before signing, my contact misunderstood and told me it was the advance rent - thus I signed, now she says she's in error (but not the agency!) which I just don't know how to respond to! As there are no appended clauses in the contract and as we've signed it, I presume that I can just quite legally say I've met my obligations and tell them to ask me in a years time to pay the rent (when it will next be due).Asking for rent up front is fair enough, but asking for that *and* a larger than usual deposit (e.g. eight months) seems to me to be discriminatory. The pro-tennant laws did suprise me somewhat and I can see why as a result landlords (or their acting agencies) have to be more careful. But I find having to ask a guarantor somewhat demeaning (maybe the French don't?), and finding someone who meets the three times rule isn't going to be easy in many cases. Which is why I prefered to pay in advance. Maybe I can pursuade them around to a lower 'aditional' caution... She didn't sound overjoyed when I just spoke to her and said I might have ask a lawyer about it, responding that 'it has nothing to with the law'...Thanks for the feedback, it takes a little getting used to life here after London!// Jacob

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Posted by MikeP-180526 - 15 years ago

It sounds to me as though this agency is taking the mickey out of you. 

As is the custom here they are exploiting the foreigners and the sooner these people realise that one day they will kill the goose that lays the golden egg,  at which point they will have to go back to ploughing their fields with donkey carts, the better.

It sounds to me as if you were a victim of high pressure salesmanship. "We have got 20 people looking at this flat, places like this are really hard to come by,  and I can only keep it for you until tomorrow ......"

Everything that yjme above has said is true and valid, but rentals are not that hard to find.  Nor have I ever heard of anyone being asked for a year's rent (let alone two) in advance. I'm not saying it doesn't happen but I do know a heck of a lot of people who've come down here with jobs/contracts (perhaps you don't have a job or fixed income - that I can understand would be a valid concern to a property owner) and not had this problem.  The normal situation is that you have to produce proof of income, typically an employment contract, and details of your bank account (a RIB).  There is a Catch-22 there sometimes as you won't alwys be able to get a bank account until you have a fixed residence, and you won't be able to get a fixed residence until you have a bank account.  But thousands of people solve that problem somehow.  And you don't pay tax in France until your first year of working is up,  so that is irrelevant and untrue.

I would ask the agent to cancel the contract (and refund the money) and then, if you still want that flat, renegotiate on the basis that,  if you do not have a fixed income,  you place the money on deposit in a lawyer's trust fund, bank deposit, or similar,  but do not give it to them.  Your chances of seeing it again are slim.

It's fair enough as has been pointed out to you that the owner has to protect himself against the unscrupulous tenant,  and there are plenty of those around,  but the agencies here are a mafia and not to be trusted - in general.

By the way most people never see their two months' 'caution' as the agents invariably find a reason not to refund it.

Good luck anyway.

 

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Posted by yjme-181229 - 15 years ago

It all sounds very confusing for you.

Basically rentals are extremely hard to find, there are an awful lot of people looking and rents are not cheap anymore. It is standard practice to take two months rent as a 'caution', pay one month ahead and also pay the agency fees which can vary but is at least one full months rent in most cases.  Because you have no paperwork in France, (you usually have to produce tax documents and salary slips -the lot) it is becoming acceptable to pay rent in advance for longer periods purely and simply to protect the proprietaire. Laws to get renters out of accomodation are extremely strict in France and no owner likes to take chances nowadays. Sorry, but these are the hard facts. Paperwork for the owners is extremely tedious too. In order for them to be insured, you have to prove to them that you earn three times your rent money each month, or two times the rent AND have a guarantor who has to prove that he or she also earns three times your rent money and who will pay up if you default. Otherwise, if you do a bunk, they are simply not insured. That's how it works in France. Perhaps this will help you understand why things ain't simple and staightforward.

If I can be of any help, please contact me.