If you’re hoping to rent a house or apartment in France, your “dossier”—the file containing all the required paperwork—is essential, and you will generally need to present it before you can even view a rental property. Here’s what you need to know.
What is a “dossier” in France?
In France, a “dossier” is a file of documents required for any official process, such as a mortgage or other loan application, a property purchase, or a visa or carte de séjour application. Your dossier includes all the required documentation, for example, proof of identity and address, proof of your earnings or taxable income, etc.
If you’ve heard the rumours about French administration being challenging, the dossier is largely the reason for this! It is often comprised of numerous, specific documents that must be presented in order for your dossierto be “complete”. Not only can this be time-consuming to assemble, but some of these documents can be tricky for new arrivals to obtain, adding an extra challenge for expats.
When it comes to renting a property in France, you will often be asked to present your dossier straight away. Most agencies won’t even consider candidates for a viewing without checking your dossier, so it’s essential to source the required documents prior to starting your property search and have your dossier ready to go. Presenting an incomplete dossier often leads to an application being dismissed or ignored completely, especially in areas where rental properties are in high demand, so make sure you send all the requested documents (if in doubt, it’s always best to send too much rather than too little).
What does your dossier need to include to rent in France?
The good news is that almost all rental agencies and private landlords will ask for the same dossier, so you should be able to prepare your dossier in advance. However, be sure to check the property listing for any specifics, as they may vary slightly. If no details are listed, either send your standard dossier anyway or send a quick message asking if the property is still available and expressing your interest in organising a viewing.
These days, presenting digital copies of your dossier is widely accepted, so preparing a folder on your computer with all the saved documents is a good idea (note that you might still be required to print out your dossier when it comes to signing the contract).
For renting a house/apartment, your dossier should include:
- Pièce d’identité – your ID card or passport
- Justificatif de domicile – proof of address, such as an electricity bill or similar, less than 6 months old
- Trois derniers bulletins de salaire – your last three pay slips if you are employed
- Contrat de travail – your work contract, if employed
- Dernier avis d’imposition – your last tax notice
- Trois dernières quittance de loyers – your last three rent receipts (or proof of home ownership)
There are also various additional documents that may be requested depending on your situation. If you do fall into any of these categories, we recommend including these even if not initially requested.
As an expat:
- Your carte de séjour or residency card
For business owners/self-employed:
- Your SIREN or SIRET certificate – proof of your business registration
- A minimum of three years avis d’imposition (tax notices) showing stable and sustainable income (note that without this, business owners or self-employed workers may find it very difficult to rent in France)
- carte d’étudiant – student ID card
- certificat de scolarité – course registration certificate
For retirees or unemployed:
- Proof of pension
- Your last three pension receipts.
Prepare your “dossier facile” online
A popular option to facilitate the sharing of your dossier is to use the government’s Dossier Facile website (click here), which allows you to upload all of your documents and have them approved by the state prior to beginning your property search. Designed to simplify and streamline the dossier process for both tenants and landlords/agencies.
After uploading all the relevant documents, you’ll be given a link or pdf file to send to landlords and agencies.
What happens if my dossier is incomplete?
If you’re missing something from your dossier – a common occurrence for new arrivals in France – this can present a real problem when looking for rental accommodation. Sometimes, there are simply no alternatives or workarounds to an incomplete dossier, but here are some things you can try:
- Provide an alternative document that covers the same requirement. For example, if you don’t have a work contract or pay slips in France but can prove sufficient savings or alternative income, this may be sufficient.
- Rent from a private landlord. Most rental agencies are very strict over their dossier requirements and may not accept alternative documents as suggested above. In this instance, your only option is to find a private landlord. In this instance, you will still need to prove sufficient income or funds, but they are more likely to be flexible over the type of documents accepted.
- Get someone to stand guarantor for you – see below.
Will I need a guarantor to rent in France?
While having a guarantor is not a prerequisite for renting in France, it may be requested in the event of an incomplete or less-attractive dossier, as well as for students and young people without a work contract. A guarantor can be a family member, friend, or any other person willing to take on the legal responsibility of paying your rent on your behalf if you fail to pay.
It’s important to understand that your guarantor will likely need to be based in France (it is not impossible for a private landlord to rent to someone with a foreign-based guarantor, but many will understandably be reluctant), and they will need to be able to meet all the requirements of the dossier.
If you’re under 30, there is also the possibility to apply for a guarantor via the French state using the Visale scheme – find out more about that here.
Moving to France?
From applying for your visa and opening a French bank account, to integrating in your new community – FrenchEntrée is here to help! Let our Essential Reading and Visa & Residency articles guide you through the whole process, then visit our Owning Property, French Tax, Healthcare, and Life in France zones for everything else you need to know.
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