Paris Rental Tips: Paperwork

Our guide to renting an apartment in Paris

May 28, 2024
view of parisview of paris

Anyone who’s ever lived abroad will know that renting an apartment is one of the most daunting parts of the process. Even if you’ve lived in the city all your life, signing your first lease is normally a time to give mom a call for some practical and emotional support. What if you’re new to the city though, or to the country? What if you don’t even speak the language? We understand your apprehension, and while we can’t help much on the emotional side, we can on the practical front. In this guide, we tell you the process and paperwork involved when renting an apartment in Paris, to help you navigate the process with confidence.

Where and how much?

First you need to decide which area you want to live in, and how much you can afford to spend. It’s best to do this together, as the area you choose has such a big effect on how much the apartment will cost.

Paris is divided into 20 districts, or arrondissements. These are arranged in a spiral pattern- so the 1st is the city center, with the Louvre, Notre Dame etc. The first 8 arrondissements make up the first ring of the spiral, and are the most expensive in the city. The 19th and 20th are the least expensive.

paris arrondissements

Newcomers to the city often like to be in the first ring, but this might not be ideal for those looking to stretch their budget further. Do a bit of research into the different discricts, and if your favorite is too pricey, you could consider the next ring out. For example, if you’re going to be working in the 7th arrondissement, and want some great views of the Eiffel Tower, you could look at the 15th as an alternative.

In terms of budget, most agencies will rent you properties which cost a third of your salary (or other income). Administration aside, this is quite a sensible price to aim for. Bills, travel, and food will probably cost you another third, which leaves a third for everything else.

Furnished or unfurnished?

You can find both in Paris, and your choice generally depends on how long you stay. It’s nicer to live in an apartment which you furnish yourself, as you can apply your own tastes, and pick out some less generic furniture. If you’re only here for a few months though, it usually isn’t worth it. You need around €1500-€3000 to furnish a two bedroom apartment in Paris, and that’s without really splashing out. There’s also the hassle of buying furniture, getting it home, and putting it all together. Having your things shipped here is a good idea if your possessions have sentimental value, and you’re here long term. Otherwise the price, and the time involved, rule that option out.

ukio apartment

The complications of furnishing an apartment are reflected in Paris’ rental laws. Short term rentals must be furnished. These are typically up to a year, with the option to renew for a further year. Long term contracts are for a minimum of three years, with the option to renew for three more. These properties are nearly always unfurnished.

Agency or private?

If you’re new to the city go with an agency, unless you have a personal connection you can trust, who wants to rent the apartment to you. The advantage of renting privately is that you can cut out agency fees. A recent law limited agency fees in Paris to €12 euros per square meter, but this can still add up. The advantage of agencies is that they guarantee that the contract is sound, and that you won’t run into legal troubles further down the line. Unless you are a French-speaking property lawyer, it probably isn’t worth the trouble.

If you don’t already know someone looking to rent an apartment, agencies also simplify the process of finding the property. You can search from hundreds of options from the comfort of your own home.

What paperwork to bring

Demand for rentals in Paris is high, and the best apartments often disappear quickly. Regardless of what an agency might say, never assume that you’re the only tenant they’re considering. If you turn up without something you need, there may not be time to pop back and get it. They’ll often have someone lined up straight after you in case you’re missing somthing. Some of the paperwork is optional, so check with your agency exactly what you need. If in doubt though, bring the following:

  • Proof of identity: This can be a passport, ID card, or other official document that verifies your identity.

  • Proof of income: If you already have a job with a French company, you’ll have a CDI (long term contract), or a CDD (temporary contract). The latter will only allow you to rent short term. Bring your contract, plus your last 3 payslips. Normally one or the other will suffice, but best to be safe. If you don’t have a job yet, you’ll need someone else to act as a guarantor. You can also get a bank guarantee, which involves your bank blocking several months rent in your account, as assurance.

  • Rental history: If you’ve rented an apartment in the past, you may need to provide proof of your rental history, such as previous rental contracts or references from previous landlords.

  • Deposit and agency fee: Most landlords in Paris require a security deposit or bank guarantee, typically equal to one or two months' rent. This deposit is intended to cover any damages or unpaid rent. You’ll also need to pay the agency fee at this point, which should be €12 per m2, but check the exact fee with yours.

  • A passport photo: Normally not required, but very annoying if it is and you don’t have one.You may be asked for copies of all these. Normally an agency will have a photocopier, and won’t mind using it. There are a few sticklers out there though, so bring copies of everything just in case.

signing paperwork

What if that doesn’t work for me?

There will be some that can’t meet these requirements. Some people won’t be staying in Paris long enough to sign even a short term contract. There are also a great number of digital nomads and other remote workers, who won’t have the necessary French employment contract.

In this situation, your best option is a monthly rental company like Ukio. These offer the comforts of long term rentals, and the convenience of a hotel. You only need a passport, and all of the apartments are already uniquely furnished. Not just with the big things, but the little extra touches too. You can choose your favorite area, and pick out the perfect apartment in a matter of minutes.

ukio apartment paris

Good luck!

Renting an apartment in Paris can be a complex and time-consuming process, but if done right it can be rewarding and enjoyable. By ensuring that you have all the necessary paperwork, you can navigate the process more easily. If you need help with anything else, our comprehensive guide to moving to Paris almost certainly has what you’re looking for. We wish you luck finding the perfect apartment to call home in the City of Light.