What are the obligations of the lessee and the lessor?

Moving into a home is often associated with some work and repairs in it. In this case, the question arises between the tenant and the landlord about the organization of such repairs. Theoretically, the major works are assigned to the owner, and minor repairs - to the tenant. However, in practice, things are not always so simple, which causes disputes between the two parties. Real estate agency Hermitage Riviera sheds light on the distribution of repair costs between tenant and landlord.


Legal framework for the obligations imposed on the tenant


In France, the obligations of the tenant in terms of work and repairs are provided for by article 7d of the law dated July 6, 1989. This provision of the Construction and Housing Code details the repairs for which the tenant is responsible. These concern in particular “the routine maintenance of the residential premises, equipment mentioned in the contract and minor repairs as well as all rental repairs defined by decree in Council of State, except if they are caused by obsolescence, poor workmanship, construction defect, unforeseen circumstance or force majeure”.

Further, the law states that the tenant must ensure the maintenance of the rented premises through minor repairs. So the tenant has to take care of:


•       replacement of a broken window,

•       repair of door handles,

•       change of switch,

•       carpet cleaning, etc.


All these works are classified as repairs at the expense of the tenant. If the landlord covers these costs, the tenant will still have to reimburse them to the landlord.

In fact, the regulations do not define an exhaustive list of repairs that must be carried out by the tenant. Decree No. 87-712 dated August 26, 1987, however, gives an idea of the most important of them. Due to the lack of an exhaustive list of repairs to be borne by the tenant, misunderstandings can arise at any time.

Therefore, in the event of a conflict, both parties should first try to reach an amicable settlement with the help of the Departmental Commission for Conciliation. In the absence of a conciliation, one or both parties must go to court to resolve the dispute. The result of this procedure is often the termination of the contract. To avoid these conflict situations, it is recommended that the two participants in the process find a professional who will act as an intermediary between the two parties.


What kind of work does the tenant do?


The tenant has the right to redevelop the apartment or house that he rented. To do this, he must carry out work within the legal framework. These works may refer to the interior or exterior of a dwelling.


Maintenance work


The tenant is obliged to repair movable and immovable property that has become unusable through his fault. In reality, the destruction of the equipment as a result of wear and tear or obsolescence is expected. If the tenant does not care for and does not maintain this equipment, he thus becomes liable for damage. For example, repairing a door or window broken through the fault of the tenant is his responsibility.

This rule also applies to major repairs. If the tenant hits the garage door or walls with his vehicle, then he is responsible for the repair. The tenant must also take care of the plumbing in the dwelling. To do this, he must ensure that the taps are descaled, the pipes are unblocked and the seals are changed. Therefore, he cannot appeal to the owner since the maintenance of this equipment is his responsibility.


The interior work of the premise rented


The law clearly defines the works and arrangements that can be carried out by the tenant. There are major repairs and landscaping works. It is the latter that is the responsibility of the tenant. Thus, the latter can repaint the walls, repair the ceiling, and install a shelf or cupboard.

These repairs are carried out at the expense of the tenant, but he must obtain the landlord’s consent before carrying out these works. Indeed, the latter may refuse to carry out certain work in his home. However, the landlord rarely refuses to repair his housing. For example, he cannot prohibit the tenant from installing easily removable equipment. The main thing is that the latter must return the accommodation to the owner as mentioned in the inventory documents.


The interior work of the premise rented


There are several types of external work that the tenant can perform. The latter, for example, covers the costs if he wants to repaint the facade of the accommodation. This applies to all carpentry work aimed at improving the aesthetics of the home. The landlord has delivered the property in a decent manner, and all other costly alterations are the responsibility of the tenant. For this work, it is also recommended to seek the opinion of the landlord. The tenant is obliged to share information about the repairs to be carried out with the owner.


Repair work carried out at the expense of the owner

In a real estate lease contract, certain work is assigned to the owner of the premises. Thus, the latter is responsible for the performance of certain works. This obligation forces the owner to provide the premises in good condition to the tenant.


Urgent work


Repairs that directly impact the health and comfort in the apartment are qualified as urgent works. Decent housing is one that allows the tenant to live comfortably and peacefully. This is also part of the rights of the tenant in a lease contract. Heating repair is a perfect illustration. The repair of this equipement is then an emergency if it happens to be broken down and is the responsibility of the landlord.

This also applies to a very old window that no longer functions or can no longer be closed. For the safety of the residents of the premises, this repair is mandatory and the landlord must carry it out as soon as possible. The implementation of urgent or major repairs does not relieve the tenant from the regular payment of rent. This situation may lead to the termination of the lease contract. The landlord may consider reducing the rent if the work interferes with the peaceful use of the property. And even in this case, it will be about resolving the situation between the two contracting parties.


Less urgent repair work at the expense of the landlord


Among the repairs carried out at the expense of the landlord, some of them are less important or urgent. These costs are most often associated with the dilapidation of an apartment or house. For example, old windows that are still functioning but need to be replaced. However, this repair is less priority than, for example, replacing the lock. The landlord can replace the window before the expiration of the contract. In order to reduce costs, the owner can perform this window replacement repair as soon as he notices it.

Works and repairs related to the aesthetics of the living space are also not urgent. For example, replacing a threadbare carpet. In this case, the advantage for the landlord is that he has time to do this work. There is no urgency. In addition, the tenant cannot hold the landlord responsible for updating the dwelling.

The dilapidation of the dwelling is the criterion used to establish the person between the tenant and the landlord responsible for the repair. In case of normal wear and tear of the property, the responsibility for repairs rests with the tenant. In addition, he is responsible for the careful use of the property. If the breakdown occurred due to obsolescence, the repair falls on the landlord. However, if the breakdown is caused by misuse, the tenant is responsible for the repair.


Other work that is carried out at the expense of the owner

In addition to urgent and less urgent repairs, the landlord is also responsible for other renovations to the dwelling. These include floor and wall coverings. In this case, the owner is obliged to remake the parquet or tiles. He also has to take care of changing the paint, wall tiles, and tapestry. On the other hand, the responsibility for the coverage itself lies with the tenant. The landlord reports the condition of the coverage at the time of drawing up the inventory document. The tenant must also return the property under the same conditions.

In order to provide the tenant with acceptable housing, the landlord must replace threadbare windows and doors. In case of unsatisfactory condition of the dwelling, the tenant may officially notify the landlord of the repair without delay. In addition, the landlord is obliged to ensure the energy performance of his accommodation. To do this, he must, for example, bring gas, electric, power, etc installations back to normal. The property owner must conduct an energy efficiency diagnosis and then carry out appropriate repairs and replacements in the event that a dwelling is considered energy-intensive. This type of property should not be rented out. This applies to dwellings classified as G (from 2025), F (from 2028) and E (from 2034). 

Finally, the landlord is responsible for carrying out major plumbing work. Most often they are associated with the dilapidated state of facilities. In this case, the owner undertakes to change the siphon, kitchen faucet, and modify the entire pipeline. The work may also cover the replacement of plumbing fixtures. If they fail due to lack of or insufficient maintenance, the tenant must provide repairs. In some cases, accommodation is covered by insurance, which disengages the owner from certain works and improvements. This is mentioned in the technical diagnostics file before signing the lease.

Source: https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/loda/article_lc/LEGIARTI000038834730/

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