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Posted at January 9, 2020
The tenant and the landlord are due to pay a part of the building maintenance. The tenant is usually in charge of paying for maintenance and repairs (elevator, for example). And the landlord is responsible for repairs to the building and significant work (elevator replacement, for example). The division of the costs between tenants and apartment owners is clearly established by law.
In France, the tenant usually pays monthly rental charges as either a fixed cost ("forfait" in French) or a provision reviewed yearly. When the syndic establishes the building's yearly expenses, the advance paid by the tenant is adjusted through reimbursement or billing for the difference. Here is everything you have to know about rental charges payment in France.
When you browse rental listings in France, you will commonly see "charges included" ("charges comprises" in French) indicated next to the rent amount. What does it mean exactly? For a long-term furnished apartment for rent, the amount of the rent generally includes the tenant's part of building maintenance charges.
Nota Bene: The monthly rent does not include utilities such as electricity, gas, hot water, or the Internet. The tenant is responsible for opening their utility account and paying their consumption.
The fixed charge (forfait de charges) is for furnished leases and flat sharing. A fixed amount covers the tenants" expenses related to the building and the common areas. Typically, this fixed payment is included in the rent. This amount remains the same every month till the end of the lease and cannot be adjusted.
The provision on rental charges (provision sur charges) with annual adjustment concerns unfurnished rentals and sometimes furnished rentals. This advanced charge means that the tenant pays an estimated fixed amount in advance each month. The owner must adjust this amount at the year's or lease's end. The owner has to give proof of actual expenses. Any difference between the advanced monthly provision payment and the actual costs is either reimbursed to the tenants or charged to them.
The lease agreement stipulates the fixed charges amount and the payment frequency.
Whether the tenant pays a monthly provision or a fixed charge payment, a specific clause must clarify the issue in the rental contract.
Whether a fixed charge or an advance payment, the landlord bases the amount due by the tenant on the building's yearly expenses report. Each tenant charge is explained and detailed on the bill for the advance payment regularization.
Suppose your rental property is in a co-ownership building. In that case, the owner can request a part of the condominium charges (expense for cold water, guardian's wages, collective heating, or elevator if necessary) from their tenant, which we call recoverable rental charges.
The owner checks their annual statement of charges (relevé annuel définitif de charges) to obtain the right portion to re-bill to the tenant; this information is not provided on quarterly reports (appel de fonds trimestriel). So if the owner cannot locate this information for their tenant, they need to contact the syndicate for assistance.
In addition to co-ownership charges, consider the household waste tax (TEOM). It is part of the recoverable rental charges. This amount is usually indicated on the property tax notice (Taxe foncière). Therefore, the owner can include it in the provision.
Suppose the owner keeps the electricity, gas, or Internet subscriptions under their name for convenience or until their expat tenant opens a bank account in France. In that case, it is best to take a fixed charge for the Internet subscription and an adjustable provision for electricity and gas consumption which vary. The tenant reimburses his utility expenses to the owner monthly.
N.B. If the owner keeps the subscriptions under their name, the lease must indicate the reference number of the EDF/Gas account and internet subscription.
This adjustment is calculated by comparing the sum of provisions with the actual rental charges paid by the owner during the period. If the provisions exceed the actual expenses, the landlord must return the overpaid part to the tenant. On the other hand, if the advance is lower than the actual expenses, the owner requests a supplement to make up for the missing underpaid amount.
During the adjustment, the tenant will receive the following information as proof of rental charges by the landlord by email or by post. Failing to provide these documents, the tenants may ask by registered letter to obtain justifications for expenses from the lessor.
When does the annual charge adjustment take place? Legally, in France, according to article 7-1 of law n.89-462 of July 6, 1989, the owner of rented accommodation can recover unpaid charges and rent for three (3) years, including after the tenant has left. The same applies if the tenant has paid too many charges.
However, if the owner has not carried out the annual review of the rent based on the INSEE annual publication, he only has one year to react! After one year, the annual review of the rent is lost for the landlord.
In conclusion, understanding the different payments of rental charges in France is essential for landlords and tenants. It is important to know the differences between fixed charges and advance payments to understand which rental charges tenants need to pay. By following the legal requirements and providing the necessary documentation, landlords and tenants can ensure a smooth and successful rental experience.
Editor: Siyi Chen
Sources: Service Public, lagestionenligne, acheter-louer, PAP