Since the loi Macron was passed on August 6th 2015, a contract for a furnished rental serving as a tenant’s primary residence must stipulate the living area of the property rented. What are the implications for the landlord of not including this in the lease agreement or giving an incorrect figure for the surface area?
Living area: a definition distinct from that of the loi Carrez
The livable surface area is defined under Article R 111-2 of the Building and Housing Code. It refers to the floor surface area, after taking into account the area occupied by walls, partitions, steps, stairwells, electrical sheathings, door and window frames. Be aware that this surface area is different that of the loi Carrez. The landlord cannot, therefore, simply use the surface indicated in the sale certificate!
While the surface area of unconverted attics, lofts, storage rooms, conservatories, basements (that aren’t cellars), parking spaces and garages can be included under the loi Carrez, this is not the case when it comes to calculating the living area. The surface area Carrez can, therefore, be significantly larger than the living area. It is thus important to distinguish between the two to avoid being penalized.
Excluding the living surface area from a lease agreement or providing an inaccurate figure
When the liveable surface area is excluded from a rental contract, within 1 month of the date on which the contract takes effect, the tenant can formerly demand the landlord to add this information to the contract. If the landlord fails to respond within 1 month or refuses to do this outright, the tenant, up to 3 months after making the formal request, can bring an action before the competent court to have his or her rent reduced.
Moreover, the loi ALUR has introduced article 3-1 to the law of July 6th, 1989, which imposes a penalty when the liveable surface area of a rented property is more than 5% smaller than that which is stated in the rental contract. The tenant can then request a reduction in the rent proportional to the established discrepancy. If no agreement can be reached or the landlord fails to respond within two months of this request, the matter can be taken to court within 4 months of the initial request, so as to determine, where necessary, the reduction to apply to the rent. The reduction to the rent accepted by the landlord or ruled by the judge will be effective as of the date on which the lease agreement was signed. If the tenant’s request of a reduction to the rent is received more than 6 months after the lease begins, the reduction accepted by the landlord or ruled by the judge will only be effective as of the date of the request.
This penalty applies to empty rentals, but not to furnished rental properties. However, a tenant can easily take legal action for a reduction in the rent if an inaccurate surface area is stated in the lease agreement, especially in Paris where there are rent controls based on the number of square meters in a given property.