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Etat des Lieux Explained in 9 Questions

The état des lieux is a report that is an important step in the rental process, and is not to be overlooked! Our Frequently Asked Questions guide to the état des lieux in France explains everything you need to know about this essential piece of paperwork. 

 What is an Etat des lieux?

The état des lieux, or inventory and condition report, is a report that describes in detail the state of a rented property, including its rooms and any furniture or equipment within it. It should be done when a tenant first enters a property, as well as when the tenant leaves it.

Find out MoreGuide to finding a house or apartment in France

 Is the Etat des lieux obligatory?

As of March, 2014 (see below), an état des lieux is required for all primary residences, whether furnished or unfurnished. It is also required for the rental of unfurnished residences.

Those interested in brushing up on their French law can check out the Service Publique's explanation found here (in French).

The état des lieux can protect both the tenant and the landlord, as it forms the basis for the return of the lease deposit. Even in the event that an état des lieux isn't strictly necessary, it is a good idea to perform some sort of inventory report before starting a rental, even when not strictly required, in order to avoid encountering any misunderstandings and eventual disputes at the end of a lease.

 Who prepares the Etat des lieux?

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An état des lieux is not always necessary, but is a good idea in all rental situations

The état des lieux can be prepared by the landlord, the tenant, or by a third party, depending on what the landlord and tenant have chosen. However, as of March 2014, it must cover certain elements. You can find a template for an état des lieux in English here.

 When to perform an Etat des lieux?

Ideally, the état des lieux should be done when the tenant receives the keys to the residence, but it can otherwise take place within the first 10 days of the tenant's arrival. The tenant has the right to make additional notes/changes to the état des lieux about heating equipment during the first month of the heating season. 

 How to perform an Etat des lieux?

To perform an état des lieux, start with a document that meets the requirements, and make sure to have two copies (one for the tenant, one for the landlord). The état des lieux should be done with both parties (landlord and tenant) present, unless it is being done by a hussier

Download an inventory sample état des lieux in English

The following information should be noted in the état des lieux:

  • The size and number of rooms in the residence
  • The full name and address of the landlord and the tenant
  • The types of equipment in the residence (e.g. furnace, water heater, electricity meter, gas meter, etc)
  • Relevant meter readings
  • Any additional private property at the tenant's disposition (e.g. cellar, parking space, balcony, terrace)
  • Number and description of keys
  • Detailed description of all fixtures in the rooms (doors, windows, lighting, closet space, etc)
  • Any additional comments about the state of the residence

To prevent any confusion or misunderstanding, describe all aspects of the residence with as much detail as possible. It's a good idea to take photos to attach to the état des lieux. 

Both copies should contain the same information, and be signed by both parties. 

 What happens if I don't have an état des lieux for my rental?

According to the loi ALUR (see below), the residence is considered to have been rented in "good condition" if no état des lieux was made. If you are renting but did not do an état des lieux when you received the keys, you are therefore obliged to return the residence in good condition. If there was a problem with the state of the residence, the onus is up to you to prove that it was the case before/when you arrived, which you can prove either with:

  • Photographic/video evidence, and/or
  • Written evidence that the landlord did not wish to perform an état des lieux, despite warnings and/or letters sent by registered post

 Is a third party necessary for the état des lieux?

The état des lieux can be performed by both the landlord and tenant together, or by a third party (hussier). Keep in mind that use of a hussier will involve additional fees (which should be split equally between landlord and tenant), whereas an état des lieux can otherwise be done for free when performed by the landlord and tenant together.

 What should I do if there's a problem with my état des lieux?

Contact your landlord first if there are any problems with your residence that affect the état des lieux. In the event of a dispute, contact the commission départementale de conciliation (CDC).

 What is the loi ALUR and how does it affect my rental?

The loi ALUR (d'Accès au Logement et pour un Urbanisme Rénové) was voted into effect in March, 2014, brings new documentation required in the housing selling/rental processes. The law seeks to protect individuals considering buying/renting an apartment within a professionally managed co-ownership building. Among other things, the law introduced standardized documents for the état des lieux. Thanks to the loi ALUR the état des lieux must describe:

  • The rooms in the residence
  • Any equipment that is at the disposal of the tenant (e.g. water heater, furnace, fridge, washing machine, etc)
  • Water and energy meter readings
  • Any private areas in the residence
  • Any furniture (if the apartment is furnished)

The document must also include a space in which both parties can evaluate the state of the various aspects of the residence (four categories: très bon état, bon état, état moyen, mauvais état) as well as a space for additional observations. It is a good idea to be as detailed as possible with any additional observations, in order to avoid any misunderstandings when the tenant leaves. 

The loi ALUR makes obligatory that two état des lieux be performed for any tenancy, one on the tenant's arrival (within the first 10 days) and the other on the tenant's exit from the apartment. By law, both parties must be present for the état des lieux, but they can appeal to a third party (hussier - bailiff) to perform the état des lieux on their behalves. The law also allows for the tenant to make additional modifications regarding the heating equipment during the first heating month. 

The loi ALUR also establishes that in the event that no état des lieux is made, the residence is considered to be in good condition. The tenant is therefore obliged to return the residence in good condition, or otherwise prove the unsatisfactory state of the apartment (e.g. with photographs/video, or written documentation that shows that the owner did not wish to perform an état des lieux).

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