Tenant: what are your rights ?
So you’ve just moved out of your parents’ house and you're looking forward to enjoying your newfound independence (no more getting permission for impromptu parties). To avoid unpleasant surprises, it’s useful to know your tenant's rights. Do you want to knock down a wall? Change the furniture? Be warned, you can’t simply do what you please. It’s worth knowing that you have obligations as a tenant (paying your rent on time, for example) and your landlord has obligations to you too.
Tenant: what you are not allowed to do...
You’re feeling super at home in your lovely new cocoon (chilling out on your super-cosy sofa is priceless), so at home that it feels like it belongs to you! Be careful not to take your dream for granted. You don't have the right to do whatever you please. Here’s a little list of things you can’t do (head’s up, having a giant foam party is a no).
- Carrying out work to transform the home: although it would be great to extend the living room, knocking down a wall or carrying out major work without your landlord's written consent is out of the question. Fancy yourself as the next Nick Knowles? Try to stick with minor jobs like painting. As a precaution, ask your landlord for permission anyway.
- Changing or throwing out furniture: do you rent furnished accommodation? The chest of drawers in the living room looks like something out of the Middle Ages? It's up to you to use your imagination and hide it or decorate it (you'll be scouring the local flea markets!) because you're not allowed to remove it or get rid of it.
- Respect co-ownership rules: if you rent a flat in a small collective or residence, you must respect co-ownership rules (you might as well try to get along with your neighbours while you’re at it, it's always a good idea). It may be forbidden to hang laundry on windows, for example, or to install privacy screens or put flower pots on the balcony. Find out more! More broadly, you must use the accommodation per the lease agreement for residential use (pop those plans to open a bar on hold!).
Tenant's rights: what you can claim
As a tenant, you don’t get to do exactly what you please, but neither does your landlord! You also have rights, which you can enforce.
- Rent receipts and deposit: your landlord must provide you with a rent receipt, to prove that your rent has been paid, when you request one. Usually, the landlord will send you a receipt each month, but it's not automatic.
- A rent reduction in the event of lengthy works or malfunctions: your heating’s been out of order for a fortnight (and it's freezing outside) and there's no repairman in sight? Has your landlord been doing work for more than 21 days? You have the right to ask for a reduction in your rent. Your landlord is obliged to notify you by registered letter before the work begins.
Live in your home as you wish: (except for specific regulations in residences, for example) your landlord does not have the right to prevent you from receiving or accommodating someone free of charge, from having a pet (though your boa might be another story...) and they cannot impose visiting rights on you, for example (outside the legal framework). You were away for a long weekend with your classmates and your landlord went into your flat? That’s completely forbidden, even if they have a key to the property, they do not have the right to enter your home without your permission.