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Does the lease renew automatically? What are the conditions?

When you're a tenant, your situation is governed by a lease, which is a contract regulated by French law. This allows you to inhabit a dwelling or occupy a building in exchange for monthly remuneration. However, there are several types of leases, the main ones being residential leases, commercial leases, and professional leases. In the case of a residential lease, the duration is usually 3 years. When you reach the end of this contract, several options are available to you depending on the terms agreed upon initially.

You may be wondering, "Does the lease renew automatically?" It all depends on the nature of the property you are renting and the legal framework within which the lease falls. The subject may seem very complicated, which is why the Colonies team will explain everything to you point by point. Generally, if at the end of the contract neither the landlord nor the tenant takes any steps, the lease is automatically renewed. Furthermore, it is free, with no additional fees to pay.

The typical scenario: renting an unfurnished apartment

The majority of leases concern unfurnished rentals, occupied by one or more tenants for a specified duration of 3 years. In certain well-defined cases, it is possible for a landlord to offer a shorter duration, provided it is at least one year, and if the landlord's personal or professional situation justifies this approach (such as imminent retirement). Most of the time, the renewal is based on the terms of the original contract, and a new signature is not required. If you want to clarify this renewal, the landlord's request must be made 6 months before the end of the term, or from the tenant's side, 1 to 3 months before.

The landlord can terminate the lease only for three justifications:

  • in case of sale of the property

  • intention to inhabit the property

  • serious reason: default in payment or negligence on the part of the tenant

The furnished rental lease: what duration, what renewal terms?

Compared to an unfurnished apartment, a furnished rental has a shorter contract duration, according to the terms of the law of July 6, 1989, revised by more recent regulations such as the Alur Law of 2014. Here again, there are several types of leases, including seasonal and student leases, which are two major types of furnished rentals in France. As for standard furnished accommodations, the lease is for a duration of one year and can be tacitly renewed.

The student lease concerns many young people in France and has its own terms. It has a fixed duration of 9 months and is not renewable. In return, a young student tenant may receive special assistance from the State, such as the APL (personalized housing assistance) or the ALS (social housing allowance).

As for the seasonal lease, the occupancy of the accommodation is even more limited in time, usually to 90 days. This duration can be extended up to 120 days per year at most, or 4 months, if the accommodation is located in a large municipality of more than 200,000 inhabitants, or more than 50,000 in a high-demand area (with a high demand compared to the real estate supply).

Do you need to sign a new contract in case of tacit renewal of the lease?

Quite often, the possibility of renewal relies on an unofficial agreement between you and the property owner. This is referred to as tacit renewal, which means that the renewal is not explicitly contained in the lease agreement. Tacit renewal consists of the end of one lease and the creation of a new contract, either on the same terms or with modifications. In any case, you will need to negotiate with the landlord unless the landlord decides on their own to proceed with the renewal.

The relationship with the landlord can be difficult in some cases, but they must absolutely send you a registered letter to officially terminate the lease. In the event that the property is sold by the landlord, they must send you a notice to inform you that the lease will not be renewed. The notice must be sent to you 3 months before the deadline if it is a furnished rental or 6 months for an "unfurnished" one. If you are retained as a tenant, the lease agreement is automatically transferred to the new owner of the property.

Renewal of commercial/professional leases: how does it work?

Another type of French lease contract concerns businesses and liberal professions (architects, doctors, lawyers, etc.).

The commercial lease does not automatically expire at the end of the specified duration in the initially signed contract, which is at least 9 years. The professional must request renewal 6 months before the expiration. The commercial lease is often advantageous for the business owner, and the landlord's refusal to renew almost always results in compensation to be paid. Unless otherwise explicitly stated in the initial contract, there are very few scenarios where the landlord can refuse to renew the lease.

As for the professional lease, it has a duration of at least 6 years but does not renew automatically. An agreement between both parties, landlord and tenant, is required for renewal, unless the landlord initiates legal proceedings against their client for a valid reason. However, the renewal is based on the same terms as the initial agreement.

Lease renewal and rent increase: is it automatic?

When a lease ends and is renewed, the landlord of the property may choose to increase the rent for their tenants, within certain limits. For this, they will rely on the base of the rental reference index (IRL), published by INSEE quarterly or on a rolling 12-month basis. Such an increase can only occur if the rent was underestimated compared to the geographic area and within the legal limits set by the percentage increase in the IRL. Do not worry, the law allows you to protect yourself against an abusive rent increase: you can indeed contact the town hall, draw up a report on unsanitary housing, and put your landlord on notice in case of failure to fulfill their duties.

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