Furnished or empty, the rented housing must be decent

In furnished rental as in empty rental, the lessors must deliver a decent housing, under he risk of being condemned to upgrade it to the standards or to have their rent reduced by the judge. But what is decent housing? The 30th January 2002 decree n° 2002-120 defines it as an accommodation that does not pose any apparent risk to the physical security or the health of its tenants and that presents elements making it compliant to the use.

Characteristics of a decent housing

Minimum habitability requirements for a decent property

The accommodation in furnished or empty rental must consist in at least one main room presenting:

  • A living space of at least 9 m² and a height under ceiling of at least 2,20 m
  • Or a living volume of at least 20 m3

The volume of 20 m3 is calculated by taking into account the part of the room which height is superior or of 1,80 m.

The physical security and the health of the tenants are respected

The property deemed insalubrious or dangerous will not be considered as a decent housing. The accommodation must carry out the shell and core of the tenant. The restraint system of the people in the property and its access (the railings at the windows, stairs, etc.), electrical and gas circuits, heating equipment and of hot water production, must meet the respect the security standards and be in a good state of use. Construction materials, canals or the accommodation ‘s wall coverings must not pose any apparent risk to the physical security or to the tenants’ health (risk of lead poisoning and diseases led by the presence of asbestos). The opening and ventilation system must be adapted to local use.
Finally, the rooms destined to the living or sleeping must have an appropriate natural lighting and have access to the open air through an opening or glazed volume.

Equipment and comfort elements that a decent housing must provide

A decent accommodation must have an installation enabling a standard heating. The system must include an energetical supply, a disposal of the cobusting materials as well as be adapted to the housing’s characteristics. The property must also be furnished with installation allowing a normal use of drinking water, the disposal of used water and sewage without repression of smells, a sufficient electrical circuit that allows the lighting of all the rooms and access points as well as for the functioning of usual household appliances. Is also required:

  • The laying out of a kitchen or a cooking space that enables to install a cooking device (micro wave oven, oven or baking trays) and presenting a sink linked to a cold and hot water supply as well as a used water disposal system
  • A sanitary installation inside of the housing consisting in restroom separated from the kitchen and from the room where the meals are taken as well as an personal hygiene equipment: tub or shower supplied with hot and cold water and presenting a used water disposal system. It is however mentioned that the sanitary installation of a one room housing can be limited to external toilets if it is located in the same building and easily accessible.

If the housing appears to be not decent, what are the consequences ?

If the accommodation that you rent as furnished or empty does not comply to the decency rules, the tenant can ask, at any moment, its upgrading to the standards. In case of disagreement with the lessor, the judge will have the power to determine the nature of the works and its limit time of execution. Usually the advice of an expert beforehands will be needed.
Parallely, “failing compliance”, the judge will be able to reduce the amount of the rent initially stated by the lease agreement. This will be the case if the works can not be made for financial or technical reasons in a housing which main room is of 8 m² and the volume inferior to 20 m3.

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About me

Maud Velter
Maud Velter
Legal & practical advice for furnished rentals
Associate Director of Jedeclaremonmeuble.com