There are some things you must do when renting in Paris and anywhere in France. These steps will help protect you and put you in a good position to receive all or most of your deposit back at the end of your rental period.

Once you’ve found your dream Parisian apartment, read over the lease, paid your deposit, and got the keys, it’s time to move in! The first step of moving into your new apartment is to prepare an État des lieux d’entrée along with your landlord.

What is an État des lieux d’entrée?

An État des lieux d’entrée is an official, legally binding French document that details the state of the apartment when you move in. All the possessions included in the apartment rental must be listed (furniture, appliances, finishings) along with any defaults or malfunctions. This way, you won’t be blamed for problems with the apartment that were present when you moved in.

You have 10 days after the document has been created on move-in day to notify your landlord of any malfunctions in the apartment that you notice and ask for the État des lieux d’entrée to be modified.

You can also ask to modify the État des lieux d’entrée during the first month of heating in your building, in case one of the heaters does not function. This is useful in case you move into the apartment in June, but the heating doesn’t turn on until October, and during that time you might discover an issue with the heater.

Here are some tips for what to expect when preparing the État des lieux d’entrée.

Always Wait Until the Previous Renter has Moved Out

Do not perform an État des lieux d’entrée while the previous renter is moving out. Wait until he or she has completely vacated the premises. If there is any damage done by this person after you have signed the État des lieux d’entrée document, you could be held responsible.

Be as Specific as Possible

Inspect everything down to the last detail. Yes, you might sound like a perfectionist or a maniac. But trust me, no matter how nice the landlord is to your face when you move in, he/she is likely to not be so nice when he discovers a scratch on the fridge that he feels wasn’t there before. People change quickly when money is at stake. It’s better to be overly detailed in your assessment of the state of the apartment and its contents to prevent confusion down the road. Remember, you don’t know this person very well at all.

Take Photos

Take as many photos as you can of the apartment. First, take wide-angle shots of each room from different spots. Then, take close-up photos of each and every piece of furniture, electrical appliance, window, and door.

Test All Appliances

Test the washing machine, dishwater, sink, air conditioner, and more during your first 10 days in the apartment. Ensure they function properly.

Do an État des Lieux de Sortie When Moving Out

When it’s time to leave your French rental, you’ll need to do another inspection, called the État des lieux de sortie. This document will be used to determine if any damages are present in the apartment. You do not have to sign the État des lieux de sortie if you do not agree with what the landlord writes. In that case, you can call a neutral third-party which will come and do the inspection.

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