Guide to flat-sharing
Sharing a large flat between two or more students is an appealing and cost-effective alternative, particularly in big cities with a shortage of single person accommodation.
Joint tenancy agreements
A joint tenancy agreement is a tenancy agreement between a between a landlord and several tenants. If a joint tenant leaves or a new tenant moves in, an amendment must be made to the lease.
The most common option is a single tenancy agreement signed by all tenants. This means that you will all have exactly the same responsibilities and rights vis-à-vis the landlord. All flatmates are considered joint tenants and are mutually and individually responsible for paying the rent.
The agreement usually contains a solidarity clause that binds all flatmates for the duration of the tenancy, even if one individual were to move out.
Please note: This clause can be still be valid even when the agreement makes no explicit mention of the term “solidarity”: if the tenants are said to be responsible “l’un pour l’autre” (for one another), “chacun pour le tout” (one for all and all for one), or “ont obligation au tout” (are obligated for all) then they are bound by a solidarity clause and equally liable for the payment of rent and service charges.
At the start of the tenancy, the joint tenants pay a single deposit to the landlord (usually the equivalent of one month’s rent). The landlord is not required to reimburse each tenant his or her share of the deposit. The landlord will return the deposit to one of the tenants, who in turn will be responsible for reimbursing the others their share.
Departure of a joint tenant
A tenant may only leave after giving the landlord notice in accordance with the conditions stipulated in the tenancy agreement.
When one of the people sharing the flat decides to move out, there are two possibilities:
- If the agreement does not contain a solidarity clause, the tenant must notify the landlord of his/her pending departure by means of a registered letter. He/she will continue to be liable for the rent and charges until the end of the notice period.
- If the agreement contains a solidarity clause, the departing tenant will continue to be responsible for the rent and additional charges until the end of the tenancy, despite having notified the landlord by registered letter. This rule also applies to the guarantor of the departing tenant.
In all cases, the conditions of the agreement will remain unchanged for the remaining tenant(s). However, the departing tenant will not be reimbursed his/her share of the deposit until the end of the tenancy period.
If a new tenant wants to move in, either an addendum can be made to the initial agreement substituting his/her name, or a completely new tenancy agreement can be drawn up.
Sharing household expenses
- Insurance: joint tenants should all be insured in order to avoid potential conflicts.
- Electricity: up to three joint tenants may request to feature on the EDF account. This implies that the persons whose names appear on the contract are jointly responsible. The bills may also serve as proof of residence.
- Housing benefit: each tenant may qualify for a housing benefit from the Caisse d’allocations familiales (CAF). A copy of the tenancy agreement must be provided for the calculation of his/her benefit entitlement. The benefit amount will be lower than if the individual were residing alone while paying the same rent.
It can be useful to establish ground rules and each person’s share of the household expenses in writing.