The Frogmarch

"I've got to pull up my stakes and roll, man." --Jean-Jacques Libris de Kerouac

Friday, April 28, 2006

I love red tape



Apologies for the lack of content lately. I wrote something the other day but when I read back over it, it was so whiny and self-indulgent that I deleted it. Maybe I'll try the topic again later from another angle.

Also, more importantly, we've been trying to get an apartment nailed down, and it's not easy. I'll post some details about the place we have in mind once it looks like we're actually going to get it...I don't want to jinx anything, or have to write a post that reads, "Remember that cool place I told you about? Well, we're not getting it. Here's the dump we'll be living in instead."

In France, the law makes it very very difficult for a landlord to evict a tenant. For example, it's illegal to evict someone during the winter months. Non-payment has to go on for 6 months before it's grounds for eviction. So landlords are very careful to make sure that the person they rent to is likely to keep on paying. To give you some idea of what you need to rent an apartment, here's the list of required documents the realty agency gave me. Translation errors are mine.

An original and 3 copies of each of the following:
  • Livret de famille (a French ID card we don't have...probably not a problem)
  • Marriage certificate
  • Identity card and/or passport with picture obscured (I suppose to prevent discrimination...but wouldn't our names give it away if we were of an unwelcome ethnic group?)
  • Attestation from your employer indicating your hire date, your length of work contract, and annual salary
  • Three most recent pay stubs (I only have one so far)
  • Three most recent receipts from your current landlord OR attestation of property ownership from your mayor's office OR proof of real estate taxes paid
  • Address and phone number of former landlord
  • Notarized statement of current bank account from your bank, including address and phone number
  • Most recent utility bill in your name.

Got that all handy? Great! Now hustle on down to the real estate office to make sure you beat everybody else there. And you'll need your checkbook, too, because you'll need to pay:

  • The first month's rent (say, €1500)
  • Two times the first month's rent as a security deposit (another €3000)
  • An administration fee to be paid to the realty agency (€1250 or so)

But make sure you leave a little something in the ol' bank account, because you're going to need to buy kitchen cabinets, a fridge, a stove, a dishwasher, a washer and dryer, some light fixtures, some armoires to hang your clothes in, etc...

Here's a gratuitous picture of a dining room and living room in one of the places we considered but had to bump down the list because of a lot of traffic noise from the Boulevard Roosevelt, two floors directly below.

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