4 reasons why you should use a rental agency

1/ The ideal rental is (almost) always managed by an agency

Who wouldn’t dream of the ideal place to live: a well-located, renovated, modern, bright apartment with a view, high ceilings and a terrace or a balcony if possible! It happens once in a million years, you might say: it is extremely hard to find but often a rental agency is the one that can help uncover that rare gem.

Your search for the dream apartment in Paris is all the more legitimate given that rents set by owners are unfortunately high, between €30 and €40 per square metre.

Against this backdrop, you must know that the majority of the 100,000 property owners that form the Parisian rental market use an agency to rent their property out. Moreover, most real estate investors renovate and refurbish their property before leaving it in the hands of a management agency. All rental agencies carefully select apartments in their portfolio and only accept the ones that offer the services sought by tenants. At Book-A-Flat for instance, all rented apartment are completely renovated and ready to live in for future tenants. For that matter, professional agencies systematically have high quality pictures taken for each room and offer a virtual tour. In doing so, it is possible to view the property in all its dimensions and notice any defects and strengths.

Conversely, apartments for rent in medium or poor condition will usually be found on owner/tenant rental platforms. Owners who are less conscientious than others regarding their apartment cleanliness are usually rejected by traditional rental agencies.

Finally, beware of the hundreds of fake ads on leboncoin. This type of scam needs to be reported when you notice a price that seems too attractive compared to the pictures. For this reason, using a rental agency gives you the reassurance of being offered a carefully selected apartment, shown in the ad. For example, the energy efficiency scorecard (DPE in French) should systematically appear on the apartment ad as well as the rental charges and the agency fee.

So, to start your apartment search on the right foot in Paris and have an overview of the rental market, we recommend that you visit the listing portal SeLoger / Logic Immo; it lists all rental offers from real estate agencies in Paris. Enter your search criteria and see how many apartments to rent are available in the Paris area or arrondissement where you’d like to live. If one ad in particular draws your attention, contact the agency by email or by phone or visit the agency’s website. You will usually receive a swift response from the rental agency which will ask you to provide some information to make sure that your income and security are enough to rent the apartment before arranging a viewing. You can also take this opportunity to ask for additional information about the apartment, such as its availability, co-ownership, etc.

These last few years, new rental agencies have emerged in Paris and have added rentals to their portfolio, especially high-end furnished apartments.

There are three different types of agencies on the rental market in Paris:

  • Conventional agencies: These brick and mortar agencies are generally specialised in property sales, such as Barnes, Féau and Century 21, and have also focused on their rental management business working alongside their physical network to meet demand from owners. All neighbourhood agencies in Paris, even the smallest ones, have a rental business which doesn’t always offer a dedicated service. Most of the time, the agency manager handles it directly, since their main business is real estate transactions.
  • Rental agencies specialised in furnished apartments: these emerged in the 2000s in Paris because of the digital boom. At that time, the rental market was not as structured as it is today, and many owners usually used a conventional property management agency. With the advent of online rental ads, brick and mortar rental agencies have arrived on the market like Lodgis, Paris Attitude and Book-A-Flat. At Book-A-Flat for instance, all apartments are completely renovated and ready to live in for international renters who are used to upscale hotel standards. Most of these agencies are specialised in furnished rentals since the majority of small- and medium-sized apartments in Paris are now advertised as furnished.
  • Online rental agencies: these emerged in 2016 as start-ups, like Blueground. They propose a service where tenants and owners do all the paperwork online, as well as a virtual viewing of the apartment and the signing of the lease on their online customer account in less than 10 days. This appeals to students and young professionals, but less so to international high-end long-term customers who wish to physically view the apartment before signing a lease. Moreover, online agencies are often less conscientious when it comes to checking tenants’ credentials which poses a risk to owners. In any case, if you rent an apartment for several months or even years, we recommend that you ask for a viewing of the apartment in person before signing the lease; otherwise you might have nasty surprises during the entry inventory.

2/ Agency fees are capped for tenants in Paris

Ever since the ALUR law came into force, rental fees paid by tenants have been capped in Paris at €12 per square metre at the new tenant’s expense and €3 per square metre for the entry inventory, a total of €15 per square metre whatever the surface area or the rent of the apartment. That is good news for all future tenants who wish to use an agency without paying a fortune. The smaller the surface area, the lower the fees. For example, for a 25sq.m studio apartment, billable fees to the tenant will be €375. In doing so, students and young professionals can have access to unfurnished or furnished quality apartments through agencies without paying a fortune, which used to be the case. Today, apartment-seekers have less reason to look for a direct owner/tenant offering since agency fees are capped and consequently more affordable.

Nonetheless, using a rental agency means paying rental fees to the agency which finds your tenant: the rental agency offers you a real service by selecting properties and drafting leases. At Book-A-Flat, we also take care of all the viewings that the tenant would like to do.

3/ Rents are controlled in Paris

The city of Paris has put in place a system to control rents. All apartments listed in agencies comply with this system. It is not always the case with apartments directly advertised by owners. Most rent control violations are reported on owner/tenant rental platforms by owners who do not necessarily know the applicable law or pretend they don’t. So there are benefits in using an agency to make sure the price of your apartment is assessed correctly according to the rent control scale by a rental consultant. In certain cases, you can add a rent supplement but once again it needs to be justified in the lease. For example, only apartments with a view of a monument, a terrace larger than 17sq.m, ceilings higher than 3.50m or luxury equipment such as a jacuzzi or air conditioning can add a rent supplement.

4/ Agencies make a tenancy history available to owners

Another considerable benefit is knowing the investor of the apartment you’re going to live in well. If you use an agency, you will have the owner’s history and previous rentals by the agency. This lets you see whether the owner keeps the apartment in good condition, responds swiftly in the event of water damage or a technical issue, is conscientious with entry and exit inventories and fair when the time comes to get your deposit back.

There are three types of owners in Paris:

- 60% of owners in the Paris region invest in a rental apartment in the capital city near their home in order to generate additional pension income. They are usually households of persons aged between 40 and 60 years old with a comfortable income of over €6,000. They still work and do not have the time necessary to find tenants directly. Most of them would rather put their property in the hands of a rental agency for long-term management.

- 20% of owners are French investors living in the area, who wish to make a real estate investment and a high-potential asset by investing in a rental property in Paris to prepare for retirement. They usually are freelancers or company managers who invest to prepare for their retirement. These owners do not have the time to directly manage their Parisian apartment and prefer to entrust their property management to a local agency.

- 20% of owners are French expatriates living abroad in Dubai or Singapore or foreigners, such as Italians, Germans, Spaniards, or British people. In both cases, they make a rental investment in Paris because it is a secure investment for their capital. Paris is a major international city with a strong economic appeal for foreign investors. As this type of investor does not live in France or in Paris, it is natural for them to use a rental and management agency. They usually come to France once a year and sometimes stay in the apartment if it is not rented.

Renting furnished with a real estate agency

To conclude, it is safe to say that the vast majority of owners of quality properties use a rental agency. Do not hesitate to ask your rental consultant to meet with your owner in person or by video conference. Even if they use a rental agency, owners appreciate meeting their tenant before signing the lease. Just as the owner asks for an application from the tenant, the tenant is entitled to know who they are dealing with and their owner’s history. However, some owners, especially those living in the countryside or abroad, prefer the rental agency to be the sole contact point for their tenants.

Finally, using a rental agency offers a follow-up that you will not have with a direct rental: application check, drafting of the lease, entry and exit inventories, insurance claim follow-up during the rental period - the rental agency offers a real after-sales service at a management fee generally paid by the owner. If you add the capped tenant search fees, it is truly worthwhile to go through a rental professional consultant.