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Renting in Paris: how the city of light compares to London in terms of costs, competition and housing quality

Evening Standard Homes & Property logo Evening Standard Homes & Property 16/08/2022 Cathy Hawker

Paris, the City of Light, has full throttle film set appeal. Breakfast on a café au lait and croissant, stroll along the Seine at sunset, spy the Eiffel Tower: there’s romance and beauty at every turn.

For would-be renters though, life can be rather more of a horror film than a rom-com. The French capital is compact, covering 41 square miles (compare that to London’s 600 square miles) and around 65 per cent of its 2.2 million residents rent their homes, providing stiff competition for tenants.

‘I have a wonderful landlady and that is a rarity in this city’

Londoner Charlotte Daly arrived in Paris from Hampstead in 2018 to study for a Masters in Luxury Fashion Management. She knew the city having spent time there during her gap year in 2016 and hoped to rent in either the chic 6th arrondissement, the Left Bank, or in the Marais, two popular and expensive areas.

“It is notoriously difficult to find a good rental in Paris,” says Daly, 27.

“Rents are expensive and French agents often do not make it very easy. I started looking while I was still in London and tried to line up a number of places to view on the same day. The first agency I approached told me that was impossible, and then told me that to view any at all was probably not possible. The second agency we went to, Book a Flat, was much more helpful and lined up several to see on a flying visit.

“When I started looking at potential rental homes, it became obvious that the Marais was not going to be a good option. It is one of the older parts of Paris and the apartments there were old and small with low ceilings and dark interiors. After looking at five or six properties, I knew that was not the place for me.”

Daly eventually found an apartment in the 6th, opposite the Luxembourg Gardens, where she still lives today as her original one year stay has become a more permanent move. After completing her Masters, she opened a restaurant in the 2nd arrondissement with her mother, Andy, a nutritionist. Charli’s Crew serves healthy, natural food, suitable for keto, paleo and vegan diets.

“I have stayed in the same apartment because I have a wonderful landlady and that is such a rarity in this city,” she says. “My apartment is 60 square metres with a full, English-style kitchen, another rarity in Paris and I pay €3,250 a month which is quite expensive. I did think about moving recently and found a two-bedroom apartment for around the same rent but then decided I was so fortunate with my landlady that I would stay.”

Charlotte Daly has rented in Paris for four years (Charlotte Daly) © Provided by Evening Standard Homes & Property Charlotte Daly has rented in Paris for four years (Charlotte Daly)

Charli’s Crew is a 25-minute walk away from her apartment, in a building that she also rents. “In Paris, with commercial space, when you rent you pay for the lease which gives you ‘right to be there’ in effect, and that can add substantial amounts to what you pay. We were fortunate that the previous owners were at the end of their lease and happy to pass it on to us. These leases last for ten years and renew automatically.”

Many of Daly's friends in the city have not been so fortunate. “You hear plenty of nightmare stories,” she says. “Finding a property can take two or three months easily. And then when you do, it’s common to hear about rat infestations, broken toilets or showers that never get fixed, fire alarms that don’t work. The general attitude from landlords is that is it your problem so you fix it.”

Once a tenant is in a property, it is very difficult for a landlord to evict them however. “If you don’t pay your rent for around a year, then a landlord can evict you but otherwise it is almost impossible for them to cancel your contract,” Daly says.

Renting in Paris: the legal situation

The Elan Law, introduced in 2019, made Paris one of several areas of France with rent control. It applies to all leases signed after July 2019 and means that when a property is rented to a new tenant, the new lease cannot generally exceed the rent previously applied. Exceptions include if the previous rent was undervalued or if the property has been significantly improved.

Rents are set annually, based on criteria that includes the age of the property, the number of rooms, whether it is furnished or not and the location.

An extension of the Elan Law means that properties with a balcony, a view of an historic monument or an exceptional feature (a pool, luxury furniture or especially high ceiling for example) can charge an additional rent supplement.

A severe shortage of housing in central Paris led to the introduction of strict rules on short-term rentals – those under three consecutive months.

Since 2017, anyone renting their own property is limited to renting for a maximum of 120 nights each year. If the property is a second home, owners must obtain permission from local authorities for a change of use to a commercial property.

How much does it cost to rent in Paris?

As a guide, renting an apartment in Paris costs an average of €35 per square metre per month but as with any capital city, this includes significant variations depending on location and quality of the property.

In their 2022 rental index, puts the cost of an unfurnished one-bedroom apartment, with utilities, at just under €2,000 on average.

To rent an apartment in Paris, tenants must show that their income is three times the rent. “I was a student,” says Daly. “I didn’t have any income at all and unlike London where landlords will be flexible on how you prove your ability to pay, in Paris, there was no flexibility at all.”

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