Real Estate Terminology 101 When Renting Property in France Part 1

Renting property in different countries varies widely; so does the terminology. In order to understand the rental ads correctly and to explain your own needs to the real estate agent or to a relocation company, it’s better to opt for the right vocabulary. You can find here below a first part of our non-exhaustive list of most commonly used terms.

Agence immobilière

Real estate agencies are separated from relocation companies in France. Even though, they can work as a network and share properties, most of them have a number of properties on file internally. They make sure the lease contracts are lawful and organise the check-in and check-out inventories as well as lease signatures. Some of them act as gérants (c.f. below).

Agent immobilier

It’s a realtor, a broker. The job of real estate agents is strictly regulated by law in France. They must be in possession of a carte professionelle, which can be issued only by the agent’s local authority upon responding to a certain number of criteria.


A term often used for studios to designate a slightly separated part of the room. It’s often a recessed section of the room, where the bed is situated. This means that the Studio seems larger and there’s a slight feeling of separation between the living and the bedroom area.

Appel de loyer / avis d’échéance de loyer

This is a non mandatory document given to the tenant inviting them to pay the rent and the charges. This is more commonly provided when the real estate agency manages the property as opposed to an individual.

Bail / contrat de location

The lease contract that is signed at the beginning of the rental period and that determines the nature of the rental property, the rights and obligations of both parties as well as the costs.


Refers to the person who rents out the property. It can be a physical or a legal person. Most commonly it’s a propriètaire-bailleur, which means that not only does the person own the property but they rent it out in their name.

Caution – c.f. garant

Or sometimes wrongly used for dépôt de garantie.

Contact our experts


You can often see “loyer 950 cc (charges comprises)”, meaning “rent 950 € including charges”. The charges often included in the rent are for example: the building maintenance charges (e.g. cleaning of the common areas or gardening); the minor repairs; the cold water; the electricity in the common areas; and sometimes the garbage tax. These charges; however, rarely include the tenant’s consumption of the electricity, gas, water, heating and Internet in the apartment.

Colocataire / Colocation

One rental property is rented by two or more people. As there are different type of contracts for this effect, make sure you read them carefully.

Dépôt de garantie

The guarantee/security deposit is a sum of money given to the landlord by the tenant at the beginning of the lease contract. It equals to 1 month of rent without charges and up to 2 months when furnished. The landlord holds on to this sum until the end of the lease contract and has to give it back, in full or in part, to the tenant within max 2 months after the check-out inventory. The amount will depend on whether or not the property was damaged.


An apartment on two floors, accessible by a staircase situated inside the apartment.

EDL (état des lieux d’entrée/sortie)

Ingoing inventory and outgoing inventory with walk through and a detailed report. This is one of the most crucial steps for the tenant as well as the landlord as it allows to note down the exact state of the property when moving in and out. This also serves as proof for getting back (or not) the guarantee deposit.


Two-room apartment. The number after the “T” or the “F” refers to the total number of rooms in the property (excluding the bathroom, the toilet and the kitchen if separate). An F2 typically has one bedroom and one living room. An F3 has two bedrooms and one living room etc.

Didn’t find a term you’re looking for? Check out our article on Real Estate Terminology 101 Part 2 or let us know what is missing.

Need help with your home search? Give us your coordinates and let us help you!

Contact our experts