Article rent control in French Real Estate

More Cities with Rent Control: What to Expect?

Article rent control in French Real Estate



The news has made headlines in the real estate press in recent weeks: new major French cities will join the rent control system. After Paris and Lille, Bordeaux, Montpellier, and Lyon are now affected. In practice, these cities were already subject to a rent cap system because they are classified as “tense zones”. Why have municipalities voluntarily joined this new system? Mainly because of the strong dynamism of their real estate market, making rent control difficult. This is the downside of their attractiveness. Local authorities have therefore decided to intervene to protect tenants from excessive rent. So, what will change for your properties in these cities?

Rent Control: What Are We Talking About?

Rent control is a legal mechanism that limits rent increases in certain areas. Two systems coexist:

– The first: Implemented by the ALUR law, which designates “tense zones” throughout France. These are urban areas with more than 50,000 inhabitants where there is a significant imbalance between housing supply and demand.

Map of the controlled rent increase areas

Encadrement-des-loyers_zones-tenduesSources : Territoire.gouv


– The second: Voluntary and experimental, provided by the ELAN law for a period of 5 years. It is currently in effect in Paris and Lille (including Hellemmes and Lomme). Bordeaux and Montpellier (2022), Lyon (including Villeurbanne) (2021). The government approved Marseille’s application at the end of 2022 for implementation in 2023.

The objective of these two laws is the same: to facilitate access to housing in sectors where demand for residences exceeds supply. Generally, rents are higher there, as are purchase prices.

As a reminder, the ELAN law mechanism was implemented in Paris, then quickly invalidated by the courts in 2017. Two years later, lawmakers reinstated rent caps through a test mechanism, planned for 5 years. This is the new mechanism that the cities of Bordeaux, Montpellier, and Lyon have voluntarily subscribed to.

Rent control does not mean that rent increases are prohibited, but they are regulated. It is possible for a landlord to increase rent under certain conditions.


Which Properties Are Affected by Rent Control in These New Cities?

Under the ELAN law, the following properties are affected: all rented furnished or unfurnished properties, used as residences or for mixed use (professional and main residence), with leases signed or renewed after the law’s effective date in the city. For Paris, it’s July 1, 2019; for Lille, it’s March 1, 2020. The mechanism is not retroactive.

Excluded from the ELAN law rent control: social housing and subsidized APL (and Anah) housing, properties subject to the 1948 law, and seasonal tourist rentals.

Attention, if your property is located in a “tense zone”: it may be subject to the rent control rules defined by the ALUR law. Generally, in these neighborhoods, the rent of a re-rented property cannot be increased. There are some exceptions to this rule:

– If there has been no increase in the last 12 months;

– If you have carried out improvement works amounting to at least half of the last year’s rent (the increase cannot exceed 15% of the actual cost of the works);

– If the current rent is significantly undervalued compared to the market price (the increase cannot exceed 50% of the difference between the old rent and the market rent).

Unoccupied properties for 18 months and those rented for the first time are not affected. In these cases, the rent can be set freely.


How to Calculate a Rent Increase under the ELAN Law?

The calculation is based on a median rent indicator set by prefectural decree. This median rent varies, taking into account the type of property, its location, and the year the building was constructed. It is not a uniform amount across the city but rather a detailed assessment consistent with market reality.

To be legal, the increase (excluding charges) must be between the reference rent plus 20% and the reference rent minus 30%.


rent control rules

Example: for a reference rent of 500 euros per month, the variation must be between 600 euros and 350 euros.

It is possible to apply a rent supplement if your property offers exceptional features compared to neighboring properties, for example, in terms of location or equipment. However, to request this supplement, the rent must already be at the legal ceiling (reference rent + 20%).

Paris, Lyon, and Lille have set up online platforms to easily calculate and verify the rent amount. The modalities for other cities are still pending at the time of publication.

See the online calculator for the city of Paris.

See the online simulator for the city of Lille.

See the online simulator for the city of Lyon and Villeurbanne.

See the simulator for the city of Montpellier.

See the simulator for the city of Bordeaux.


How to Reevaluate Your Rent?

The rent can be revised once a year if the lease provides for it (revision clause). Any increase must be agreed upon between the landlord and the tenant. The tenant can accept the proposal or refuse it.

First scenario: the tenant refuses or does not respond within the given time. The landlord or tenant can appeal to a Departmental Conciliation Commission (CDC). It intervenes before the judge to find common ground between the landlord and tenant. Its intervention is free. The Commission will note the lack of agreement between the parties. If no agreement is found through the Commission, the judge can be seized.

Second scenario: the tenant accepts or an agreement is reached via the CDC, the rent increase will be done progressively.


rent increase process


What Control for Rent Control?

It is obviously impossible to examine all leases signed each year in France. Control is therefore only carried out if the tenant reports an abuse. Given the high rental demand, disputes between tenants and landlords about rent remain rare. In practice, agencies in major cities continue to promote properties that do not comply with the control, just as online private real estate sites do.

This is why consumer associations have taken up the issue. The CLCV, National Association for the Defense of Consumers and Users, recently sued Century 21 for misleading commercial practices.


rent control respect


This is why consumer associations have taken up the issue. The CLCV, National Association for the Defense of Consumers and Users, recently sued Century 21 for misleading commercial practices.


What Are the Penalties for Excessive Rent?

Penalties are mainly financial. In case of conflict, the judge can require the landlord to lower the rent and refund the overcharge to the tenant. In case of refusal, fines can go up to 5,000 euros for an individual and 15,000 euros for a legal entity.

In any case, the landlord will receive a warning and have time to comply before the sanction is applied.



Rent caps are the direct result of the strong dynamism of real estate in major French cities. The housing supply remains far below demand, which mechanically drives up rent prices. Rent control mechanisms are a brake on abuses. They are certainly restrictive, but for the majority of properties on the market, they leave room for maneuver for the landlord. They also allow for continued attractive return on investment.


Article update 04/01/2023.

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Content provided for informational purposes only and does not replace current regulations. Without consultation with our experts, PATIMOLINK cannot be held responsible for any consequences of implementing the advice and information provided in this article.