1. Give notice
Generally leases renew automatically so if you are leaving you must give formal notice. The period required is generally 3 months for an unfurnished property or 1 month for a furnished, so remember to plan ahead of your leaving date. When you give notice of your intention to leave the property you should send a registered letter (lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception) to the landlord and obtain an acknowledgement of receipt.
In certain circumstances the period can be reduced to one month, typically if the tenant is over 60 and has to change accommodation because of a physical condition, if the tenant is a beneficiary of unemployment benefits or has suffered a job loss.
2. Pay the remaining rent
Settle all outstanding rents and lease expenses - a mandatory requirement. However, if you are leaving part way through a month you only need to pay for the period you will actually be living in the property rather than a full month.
3. Fix any damage
Check the condition of the property against the inventory and repair any damage or make good any loss to avoid deductions to your security deposit. Allowance is made for normal wear and tear, existing faults or forces beyond the tenant’s control (force majeure).
If you do not have an inventory you may lose out in the event of a dispute over the condition of the property. The law is often on the side of the landlord, so if no inventory exists then the tenant is presumed to have received the property in good condition and the landlord is likely to receive the benefit of the doubt in the event of a dispute. However, if you have evidence of the property’s poor condition, such as in photographs, this will be taken into consideration.
4. Exit inventory
Arrange for landlord to come around so that an exit inventory can be completed. Obviously clean the apartment to ensure it looks its best and lessens the likelihood of deductions to your security deposit.
5. Stop the utilities
Notify the suppliers of all utilities (water meters, gas, electricity, telephone and Internet) of your departure date and check to any requirements they may have for terminating the contracts.
6. Bank account
Keep your usual bank account open so that your security deposit can be returned to you. The landlord must do this (less any deductions) within two months of you returning the keys.
If you are expecting any post to arrive you can arrange with the post office for it to be redirected to your new address.
8. Tax authorities
The tenant is responsible for paying the property tax (taxe d’habitation) on furnished properties and therefore you must advise the French Revenue Service (Centre des Impôts) of your change of address. The tenant who occupies the property on January 1 each year is liable for the property tax. When you notify the Revenue of your new address they will ensure you are taken off the tax register for your current apartment.
9. Turn off everything
Make sure that all appliances have been switched off and plugged out, including gas, fridge and freezer.
10. Return the keys
Don’t forget to give these back, either directly to the landlord or to the bailiff. You’re done!
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