The security deposit is known in france as a dépôt de garantie. The landlord may require the tenant to pay a security deposit to cover any breaches of his rental obligations (for example, regularization of rents and charges or the performance of rental repairs).
Amount of security deposit
If the lessor requires the payment of a deposit, the amount must be included in the lease contract. It cannot be more than 2 months’ rent, excluding charges. The deposit is normally equal to one month’ rent and is required by all French owners.
If there are damages to the property in the end of the rental term, the security deposit (partially or fully) will be used to cover the damages. No money can be deducted from the deposit without the consent of the tenant. Thus, the state of the property including all damages shall be fixed in the act of transfer of move-out. After comparing the state of the property at the move-in and at the move-out the tenant and the lessor must agree on the amount of deductions from the deposit and to fix it in the act of transfer.
The security deposit must be paid to the landlord at the time of the signing of the lease, directly by the tenant or through a third party (advanced loca-pass, or the solidarity fund for housing (SLF).
In case of payment in cash, the tenant can request from the owner a receipt specifying the amount and the purpose of the payment.
Time of restitution
The security deposit must be returned within a maximum delay of:
1 month if the inventory of the places of exit is in conformity with the inventory of places of entry,
2 months if the inventory of the places of exit reveals differences with the state of the places of entry.
The delay is counted from the day of the return of keys by the tenant who can pass them:
- in the hands of the lessor or his agent (the real estate agent),
- or by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt.
NB: the keys, notifications about the end of rent and any other letters regarding the lease must be sent to the official address of the owner indicated in the lease agreement.
Withholding on security deposit
Any deductions from the security deposit must be justified by the lessor. The conditions of retention on the security deposit vary depending on whether the housing is owned by several people (condominiums), or by only one.
The lessor may withhold the unpaid rent from the amount of the security deposit:
damage to the property
In case of dispute on the part of the tenant, he must however be able to justify the deduction made by any means of proof:
The inventory acts of entry and exit
letter of claim for unpaid rent remained unanswered.
If the dwelling is located in a condominium building, the retention on the deposit is made under the same conditions.
However, the lessor makes a provisional accounting of the accounts and can keep a maximum provision of 20% of the deposit until the annual closing of the accounts of the building.
The final adjustment and the restitution of the balance (less the amounts remaining due to the lessor) must be made within one month after the final approval of the building accounts.
However, nothing prevents the parties from immediately settling all the accounts without waiting for the approval of the accounts of the co-ownership.
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