Unpaid Rent - Long process

In France, the management of unpaid rents is the main fear of landlords. This is why, when selecting a new tenant, a landlord will question himself and the agency regarding the probability of unpaid rent. In fact, even if the rental arrears rate in France is between 2% and 3% (admittedly, this is not frequent), when it does happen, the procedure for recovering unpaid rent is long and laborious.
In this situation, Effirent will rigourously monitor the various stages, whether they are managed directly by the lessor, the agency or its guarantee fund. Effirent, undertakes to bring you all its know-how.

Unpaid rent: the main cause of tenant evictions

The law has retained 4 causes of eviction of tenants, the unpaid rent is the main one, here are the 3 following ones:

  • Failure to transmit the home insurance certificate;
  • Repeated neighborhood disturbances noted by court order;
  • Maintains in the premises of the tenant despite the leave given by the landlord.

Resolutive clause

  • When signing the lease agreement, the lessor must verify that the contract contains a resolutive clause. This will allow the lease to be terminated without discussion.
  • The landlord must never try to make the tenant leave directly. He is liable to 3-years imprisonment and 30,000 euros in fines.
  • The winter break runs from November 1st to March 31st . During this period of time, it is not possible to evict a tenant but it is possible to continue the eviction procedure. The winter break does not apply in the following cases:
    • The dwelling is located in a building that has been the subject of a peril order;
    • The eviction is accompanied by a rehousing corresponding to the family needs of the tenant (the number of rooms must correspond to the number of occupants);
    • A principal residence (home) is squatted (occupied by people who have entered illegally);
    • A second home or garage (or any other place) is squatted. In this case, the eviction decision pronounced by the judge may explicitly deprive the squatters of the benefit of the winter break.

The procedure, although sometimes long and tedious, is simple to understand.

Procedure to follow

  1. Attempt at amicable conciliation – duration 1 month

The landlord will try to reach an amicably solution by contacting the tenant and possibly his guarantor. He will send an email or a simple mail in order to discuss solutions such as staggering the debt or waiving part of the debts. He also informs his insurance company of any unpaid rents;
– Within the following 15 days, without any sign of conciliation on the part of the tenant, the landlord sends a letter of formal notice to the tenant and to his guarantor if it exists.

If not, forward the file to the unpaid rent insurance or manage it yourself and go to step 2.

  1. Order to pay by bailiff: 2 months

The landlord or agency has two months to serve the tenant with a demand to pay. To formalize his request, he must file a file at the clerk’s office of the competent court (find the form). Within 15 days, he must notify the surety of the commandment to pay. Either the tenant pays and the incident is closed, or the proceedings continue in the district court.

Then, the tenant must pay within 2 months the sums claimed and the bailiff’s fees. So, if he can not pay, he needs to follow one of those steps:

  • Ask the judge for a delay of payment by seizing the district court of his residence;
  • Request financial assistance from the solidarity fund for housing on an ad hoc basis.

=> If this step is unsuccessful then the owner must send the file to the court.

  1. Summons to the district court

The purpose of this step is to bring the resolutive clause into play, in order to terminate the lease and eventually recover the unpaid rents. It is not necessary to hire a lawyer.

  1. Decision court: 2 to 6 months

The judge may or may not grant a delay to the tenant. Then, he can end the lease and issue an interim order ordering him to pay the arrears of rent and ordering his eviction. The tenant then becomes an occupant without a lease or title, and his rent is transformed into an occupancy allowance.

  1. Effective eviction of the tenant: 2 to 8 months

  • Once you have obtained the judgment terminating the lease and evicting the tenant, you can issue a command to leave the premises by bailiff. There are 3 possibilities:
    1. The tenant is present and leaves the premises voluntarily;
    2. The tenant is absent. The bailiff may enter the premises if accompanied by a police officer or two adult witnesses ;
    3. Tenant is present but refuses to leave the premises.
  • In the first 2 cases, the bailiff can draw up a report on the recovery of the dwelling, store furniture, have the locks changed, and so on.
  • In case 3, the bailiff may resort to law enforcement.
  1. Resort to law enforcement

The bailiff requests the assistance of the police force from the prefecture, which has two months to respond. In case of no response or refusal, the landlord can turn against the State by engaging its responsibility and asking the Treasury to reimburse the unpaid rents.

Throughout these steps, Effirent, as a Rental Management Service, will accompany its clients through the different steps with the tenant, the clerk’s office and the Court.