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How to prepare a flat rental file?


Freedom is finally yours! You're about to leave the cosy family cocoon to study in another city (bye mum and dad). To start your new independent life with peace of mind, you’re on the lookout for stylish accommodation (the dingy broom cupboard is not for you) that's within your budget (and your parents'). Guess what? You’re not the only one looking. So, to give yourself the best chance of success, prepare a solid rental file for your flat. Obligatory supporting documents, documents that the landlord is not allowed to ask you for... Nemea has the lowdown on the rental application process.


Applying for a tenancy: what you need to provide

Before you can move into your fabulous, new flat, you need to find it, a spacious, well-located, fully-equipped flat within your budget (some would say mission impossible). Found it yet? Hurrah! Now you just have to get through the tough selection process to become the future tenant. Your secret weapon for convincing the agency or property owner? A complete, well-presented rental file that will reassure the landlord. They want to be confident that you’re serious and reliable (no, a confident public speaking voice won’t do it). Did the real estate agency you contacted give you a long list of documents to you have provide? The amount of paperwork might seem a little extreme, but it's worth knowing they can’t just ask you for whatever they please (e.g. the name of your Insta account).

Here is the list of documents that landlords are entitled to request for your rental file:

  • A copy of an identity document: identity card, passport, driving licence, resident permit or carte de séjour (the McDonald's loyalty card, you can forget...)
  • One or more proof of address documents: 3 most recent rent receipts, a sworn statement from your parents (as your host)
  • Proof of your professional situation and income: as a student, this means your education certificate, employment contract from your student job if you have one (don't inflate the amount on the payslips using Photoshop, you'll get burnt), tax return
  • Notice of award for scholarship students
  • Proof of payment from the Caisse d’Allocations Familiales if you are receiving assistance from them

Guarantor documents

 As a student, your income may fluctuate (hide that overdraft). You may be asked if someone you know (preferably an older person with a permanent work contract) can vouch for you. In other words, this benefactor agrees to pay the rent if you cannot do so. In many cases, parents vouch for their children (they’re usually keen for you to become independent).

 The landlord (or the estate agent representing the landlord) may ask the guarantor for:

  • An identity document
  • Proof of address (not 50!)
  • A document certifying their professional situation (work contract...)
  • Proof of solvency (to demonstrate that they can effectively make any payments) such as tax return, last 3 payslips...)

And that's it!

 Print out your complete file in several copies, so that you can give one to the agency and one directly to the owner if you visit the property with them. Keep in mind that the competition is tough! Don’t neglect presentation, provide a clean, tidy file (avoid grease and coffee stains, while you're at it). To show your goodwill, you can choose to add a CV, a letter of recommendation (not Auntie Janine's, eh).


Flat rental file: prohibited documents

 Before renting out your property, it makes sense for the landlord to ask about your identity and income. What's their goal? To check that you have sufficient financial capacity to pay the rent each month (hence your parents' deposit). However, the law strictly regulates the documents they are allowed to ask you for.

 Under no circumstances can the landlord or agency demand these documents (it's illegal):

  • A medical record, blood test or anything related to your health
  • A criminal record
  • A copy of your bank statements
  • A passport photo (excluding the one on your identity papers) or any other photo for that matter
  • A certificate of no outstanding credit or proving that you are not registered with the Banque de France

Please note that any landlord who requires this type of document from prospective tenants is liable to a fine of 3,000 euros under the Alur law.