Lägenhetsbestyr – French administration and apartments

A classic… 

I currently live in a lovely 28m2 studio under the roof tops of Montmartre, it is very nice and there are poems and songs about that life style. But its small, and as it’s furnished I’d just like to have something slightly bigger and my own furniture.

So I’m looking for an apartment which is a quest in itself. Not that there are not apartments to be found, but the administration around it. So once you find an apartment that suits you, and you are then amongst the 100 persons also queuing, you then go to the next stage. Mention, did I, that the French love their papers? If not, you will soon be aware too…

My file, well actually file is an understatement it is more a back pack of papers,  for applying for an apartment used to consist of… and now we are talking a rental apartment, not buying, no mortgage involved, an apartment for which I can easily pay the rent… so my file looks like this:
1. 3 months pay slip
2.  proof that I’m permanently hired by my employer and that I’m not involved in any “plan social” i.e. any redundancy plan
3. Locapass this is an insurance that will pay my rent for 36 months should I ever get the idea of stopping paying the rent
4. a guarantee that will lend me 3 months rent which is what it will cost me if I find an apartment through an agency – now I have the funds put aside but of course of that we cannot be certain. For after all – non-French are not, but not to be trusted. This is a fact written in stone.
5. RIB, that means relève indentité bancaire and the French society works around this because this means you have a French bank account and that you are worthy of the first step towards naturalisation (getting a French bank account was another freak show that is too long and gruesome to go into here but I digress… )
6. And oh, the French love their papers…
7. Proof from my landlady that she is housing me
8. Copy of my land lady’s ID card
9. Copy of my land lady’s gas bill
10. Copy of my pass port (because after getting a social insurance I know that no French will believe that a pink credit card sized card can be an ID card) – did I say French love their administration?

After having handed in this file, I normally have to explain, with an admittedly slightly icy voice, that No, I do NOT need a work permit – I’m Swedish. No, nor do I need a residency card – for the same reason. Sweden is a member of the European Union, so I don’t have to have these documents.  The person to whom I’m talking normally feel deprived of these documents, because they are so attached to their administration. Sweet, you have to say.

So one would think that this is it? Oh, how wrong can you get. Because the insurance for non paid rents is not enough, there has to be a French physical person guaranteeing the rent, because as you know foreigners are not, but not to be trusted. So the first hiccup and here the story sometimes ends for me as I am not equipped with family in France that can guarantee my rent. Second hiccup is the fact that I can’t show proof of taxation in France. There is a certain logic to this as I have been in France a mere 18 months so my tax bill will come only in August/September this year. But no I have to show taxation for the past two years.

I did go into battle about this – and I do a good battle – but no, in the end even I succumbed to this Catch 22 that every French considered normal. So beaten and distraught I toddled around to my local tax office. And apart from the fact that they take my money every year they were charming, cheerful and very helpful. And they actully made up a document that does not exist. I got the impression they enjoyed it.

By the way, did I mention that the French adore their administration more than their cuisine?

So now I can add another four documents to my already thick file:
1. a document certifying that I cannot produce any tax document as I have not been in France long enough
2. a document saying that I have handed in my tax declaration for this year but that I will get my taxation document at the same time as anyone else in this country
3. a proof that the Belgian government has eradicated me from their accounts and data bases
4. a Belgian proof of taxation

This means that my file for applying for an apartment of 14 different documents.

Did I ever mention the French love their administration?



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