Finding suitable accommodation in Paris can be one of the biggest challenges of a stay in the city. For just a few days, a hotel is the simplest answer. But, if you want the luxury of living in a real Paris apartment for a week, month, year or lifetime, then your challenge begins.
This is the first of a series of articles to help you find a property that suits your needs best.
Part I: One Week to One Year
Finding an apartment in Paris for one week to one year is no longer as simple as it used to be. Sure, there are hundreds of websites offering tens of thousands of vacation rentals, but how do you choose? And take note: the current rental laws work against short-term tenants.
Airbnb is the biggest purveyor of short-term apartments, but renter beware: it is simply an online platform that connects a landlord with a renter and takes no responsibility for the rental or the property. If you’re risk-averse, choose a reputable agency instead. You won’t necessarily pay more, but you’ll have the assurance of dealing with professionals.
The Paris city laws (at the time of writing) limit rentals of primary residences to 120 days a year and of secondary properties (not the owner’s primary residence) to a minimum of one year (or nine months for students) unless the property is registered with the city as a licensed short-term rental property. Licensing is costly and requires approval from the owner’s homeowner association and the city.
As a renter, this means that your choices will be: 1) to rent an apartment that someone else lives in full time, 2) ferret out the very few registered apartments on the market, 3) rent in an “apartment hotel” (these are new on the market) or 4) rent an unregistered, technically illegal apartment. As a renter, you have no legal responsibility for registration, so have no fear and choose whatever you like!
Finding an apartment for one week or one month is fairly easy using any one of the many websites devoted to short-term rentals, but if you want a stay of three months to one year or more, then it gets a whole lot more complicated.
Be aware that you will pay dearly for a mid-term apartment (30 to 90 days) because they are in the pool of apartments rented at short-term rates (about three times the weekly rate for each month).
If you plan to stay one year or more and need a furnished apartment, it is best to have assistance in finding and securing the property. The availability of these apartments is very limited and landlords want assurance that their rent will be paid. They might well ask that the entire year of rent be paid in advance or held in an escrow account.
The good news is that when you rent for one year or more, your lease can be broken with just 30 days’ notice. And because rental laws favor tenants, you can’t be evicted easily.
The moral of the story is: make sure you are well-informed before renting, and when in doubt, seek professional advice.
Adrian Leeds is the director of the Adrian Leeds Group, Inc., which helps foreigners find short- and long-term housing in France. firstname.lastname@example.org