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Glossary of terms

Understanding French Housing Terms

As you look for housing in France, you will encounter certain formalities which may seem unfamiliar at first. Here is a glossary to help you understand the key concepts of housing in France.

Acte de caution - Guarantor form

The guarantor form is a written document which involves three parties: the tenant (who has to pay the rent), the lessor (the Real Estate agency or the landlord) and the guarantor. This document states that the guarantor assumes liability if the tenant fails to fulfill his/her tenancy obligations. Please note that if you find an apartment through Science Accueil, you will not need a guarantor.

Assurance habitation - Household insurance

Real Estate agencies or landlords ask tenants for a household insurance certificate. It is compulsory, regardless of how long the tenant stays in the apartment. If the tenant has not taken out insurance, the Real Estate agency or the landlord may terminate the lease at any moment. You can find an insurance company in the Pages Jaunes. Please note that the French insurance company MAIF is used to working with CEA employees.

Bail or contrat de location - Lease

The lease is a contract that must be signed by the landlord or Real Estate agency and the tenant. If you sign the lease with the landlord, you will not have to pay extra fees. However, if you found the apartment through a Real Estate agency, you will need to pay agency fees when you sign the lease. The maximum legal amount equals one month of rent.

Bailleur - Lessor or landlord

A person who owns a property which he/she rents to a tenant, in exchange for a specified amount of money, and for a specified duration.

Caution - Guarantor

The guarantor is a relative or a friend who ensures payment if the tenant is unable to pay the rent. In most cases, landlords ask for a guarantor who lives in France.

Dépôt de garantie - Security deposit

The owner is entitled to ask for a security deposit. It is the landlord’s monetary guarantee if the tenant defaults on the lease (property damage or rent default). The amount of the security deposit equals about one month of rent. Please note that if you found an apartment through Science Accueil, you will not need to pay a security deposit.

Etat des lieux - Initial inventory

When you move in, you must establish the initial inventory together with the landlord or Real Estate agent. The document details the overall condition of the apartment (cleanliness, wallpaper, floor, bathrooms, etc.). Make sure to write every detail carefully and to check everything as it will be compared to the exit inventory. If you fail to write a specific detail in the inventory, or if you damaged the apartment, the landlord may decide to keep part or all of your security deposit when you move out.

Garant - Guarantor

See "Caution".

Locataire - Tenant

A person who occupies real property owned by another, based upon an agreement between the person and the landlord, in exchange for rental payments.
You may live in a “government-regulated” apartment (logement conventionné) which means your landlord has previously signed a convention with the French government. By this agreement, the landlord promises to rent his apartment for the whole duration of the agreement with a maximum authorized rent. In compensation, the French government pays a part of the tenants’ rents by means of the allowance called “aide personnalisée au logement (APL)”.

Loyer - Rent

The amount of money you are requested to pay every month to occupy the apartment.

Most common French housing expressions and abbreviations

AL, à louer for rent
APL or ALS state financial assistance for accommodation
Agence immobilière Real Estate agency
appt., appartement apartment
arr., arrondissement district
asc., ascenseur lift, elevator
assurance habitation household insurance
AV, à vendre for sale
bail lease, rental contract
balcon balcony
CAF, Caisse d’Allocations Familiales French Family Allowance Fund
caution guarantee
cave cellar
CC, charges comprises rent including community and certain utility expenses
ch., chambre bedroom
charges community and certain utility expenses
chauffage central central heating
cheminée fireplace
climatisation air conditioning
cuisine kitchen
cuisine équipée fitted kitchen (please note that a fitted kitchen usually means built-in counters, cabinets and a sink and that you may still need to supply the refrigerator, the dishwasher, the stove, etc.)
dépôt de garantie deposit
double vitrage double-glazed windows
durée du contrat rental period
entrée entrance
ét., étage floor
état des lieux initial and final inventories
exposition light exposure
FAI, frais d’agence inclus includes agency fees
gare railway station
gge, garage covered parking
haut standing high quality
imm., immeuble building
immobilier Real Estate
jard., jardin garden
jardin garden
kitchenette little kitchen
larg., largeur length
lavabo sink
lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception registered letter with acknowledgement of reception
ling., lingerie linen room
location renting, rent
loyer rent
maison house
mansarde usually a small under-roof service room
meublé furnished
niveaux levels
pièce room
placard cupboard
proche, prox close to
prof., profondeur depth
propriétaire landlord
pte, porte door
rénové renovated
responsabilité civile third-party liability
rez-de-chaussée ground floor
salle à manger dining room
salon living room
sdb, salle de bains bathroom
sous-sol basement
studette little studio or service room
sud facing South
taxe d’habitation local taxes
TBE, très bon état good condition
véranda veranda, terrace
vide unfurnished
voisinage neighborhood

Find more information about housing in the Euraxess Housing Guide.

PDF - 790.5 kb
Euraxess Housing Guide