In France, landlords have 30 days to return a security deposit when their tenant moves out. If the deposit is not returned within that time, the tenant can take legal action. This article will give an overview of the law regarding security deposits in France, what to do if your landlord does not return your deposit on time, and how to avoid litigation.
How long does a landlord have to return a deposit in France?
In France, when a tenant leaves a rental property, the landlord has a fixed period of time to return the deposit. This is called the "deposit return period". The amount of time the landlord has to return the deposit depends on whether the rental was for personal or business use.
The law regarding security deposits in France
In France, landlords are required by law to return a deposit. If in the past they had to return the deposit within 45 days of a tenant's departure, this period is now reduced to 1 month. If the landlord does not return the deposit within this period, the tenant can take legal action. The amount of the deposit is capped at two months rent for unfurnished properties and three months rent for furnished properties.
However, it should be noted that the security deposit may be reduced in the event of deductions for necessary work following the tenant's departure.
Time limit for the return of the security deposit for personal use
For personal use rental contracts, the deadline for returning the deposit is two months from the date of departure of the tenant. The deposit must be returned to the tenant within that time, unless the landlord files a lawsuit against the tenant. If the landlord files a lawsuit, the landlord has six months from the move-out date to return the deposit and avoid going to court.
Time limit for the return of the deposit for professional use of the premises
The time limit for a landlord to return a deposit for a business rental is different from that for a personal rental. For business rentals, such as commercial, retail or office, the landlord has only one month from the date of move-out to return the deposit.
When a landlord rents to a company, there are a few rules to follow as we have seen in this article.
Finally, there are different time limits depending on whether the deposit is for a short or long term rental agreement.
What to do if your landlord does not return your deposit on time
If your landlord does not return your security deposit on time, you can take legal action.
Let's look at the different steps now:
1. The formal notice
If your security deposit is not returned, and provided that it has not been used to repair the damage mentioned in the inventory of fixtures or to pay late rent, you can send a letter requesting the return of the security deposit after the inventory of fixtures by registered mail with acknowledgement of receipt, asking the landlord to return your deposit within 10 days. If the landlord still does not return your deposit, you can file a complaint with the local Small Claims Court.
2. Ask the judge for conciliation
After sending your demand letter, the landlord has still not returned your security deposit, you can apply to a conciliator of justice for this apartment rental deposit dispute.
Here again, you will have to send a letter with acknowledgement of receipt to the CDC of the department concerned by the location of the rented apartment.
This is a free procedure for the tenant and the landlord, and a mandatory step if you ever have to go to court.
Depending on the amount owed, it is possible to go directly to a judge, usually for amounts over 5,000 euros.
3. Bringing the case to court
This last step must be carried out within a maximum of three years, not after the departure of the tenant, but from the date on which the deposit should have been returned. The judge can only be seized if the two previous actions mentioned above have not been successful.
In case of delay in returning the security deposit, what are the rights ?
According to the law, the landlord has the obligation to return the security deposit to the tenant within thirty days following the return of the keys, after checking the inventory of fixtures. If the lessor does not respect this deadline, he can be held responsible for damages to the tenant. In addition, the amount of the security deposit cannot exceed three months' rent excluding charges. If the landlord unduly withholds part of the security deposit, the tenant may bring an action before the competent court to order the return of the amount unduly withheld.
If the deposit is not returned, the amount due by the landlord is increased by an amount equivalent to 10% of the amount of the rent excluding charges for each month of delay.
How to Avoid Disputes
If there is a dispute about the condition of the property or the amount of the deposit that is returned, it is important to take steps to resolve the issue quickly. Otherwise, you may have to go to court to get your deposit back. The best way to avoid this situation is to ensure that you carefully document the condition of the property before you move in. That way, there can be no dispute about what damage was present when you moved in and what damage may have occurred during your tenancy.
To avoid disputes, using a property management agency can be a solution. This way, the agency will take care of the procedures.
Security deposits are an important part of renting a property in France. By law, landlords have 1 month to return a security deposit after the tenant has moved out. If the deposit is not returned within this time, the tenant can take legal action. To avoid any disputes, it is important to understand your rights as a tenant before moving into a property and to keep copies of all relevant documents. When you leave the property, be sure to leave it in good condition and provide your landlord with proof that you have paid for any damages that may have occurred during your tenancy.