Amending a lease agreement with your ex-partner

If you have signed a lease, or “bail”, with your ex-partner, it is important to update the lease after your separation if you leave the home. This will prevent you from being liable for any unpaid rent. If you leave the accommodation due to domestic abuse, you could benefit from a reduced notice period that you are required to give the landlord.

Verified by Maître Elodie Ramos on 30/05/2022

If you currently live in a property for which you have signed a rental agreement called a “bail”, or lease, it is important to terminate this lease or update it if you leave the property.

Leaving the home due to domestic abuse

Unfortunately in France, if you are married or in a civil partnership, you have a legal obligation to live with your partner.

If you leave the property without your partner’s consent, they could demand payment of damages.

However, this does not apply if you can justify your departure by providing evidence of domestic abuse.

  • Before leaving, you could also consider asking the judge to evict your partner from the home as part of a protection order or “ordonnance de protection”.

    You could obtain their eviction within a maximum of one week, even if the accommodation is in their name. However, it will be up to you to pay the rent and the costs of the accommodation from then on.

    Pending the judge’s decision, there are emergency accommodation options for you and your children.

  • If you decide to leave, it is highly recommended that you report the abuse and your departure from the home:

    • by filing a “main courante” or “plainte with the police
    • or by making a request called a “requête” to the family court judge, called the “juge aux affaires familiales (JAF)”. It is strongly recommended that you hire a lawyer to take this step. If your resources are too limited to pay for their services, you can apply for legal aid or “aide juridictionnelle” to cover the costs.

How to change the lease or “bail

  • Asking the landlord to change the lease

    If one of the tenants who has signed the “bail” leaves, it is important that the landlord is informed of this change.

    Then, follow these steps:

    • Write a letter to notify your landlord of your departure:
      • In this letter, ask them to send you a document called an addendum or “avenant” specifying the name of the tenant who has left the property.
      • This document is very important, especially if it is you who is leaving the property. If your ex-partner does not pay their rent, you might have to pay for their rent unless you can provide this document.
    • Send the letter by registered post with recorded delivery or “lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception”. This is the only way to prove your letter has been received. Keep the receipt as proof of postage.

    If the landlord refuses

    Sometimes a landlord refuses to change the “bail” if the request has not been signed by the person to be withdrawn from the contract.

    If your ex-partner has left the property and refuses to sign, you may need a decision from the judge to obtain an addendum to your “bail”. For example, if you benefit from a protection order or “ordonnance de protection”, you can provide the document signed by the judge to have the lease modified.

    If your landlord refuses to provide you with an “avenant” to the lease and you need to obtain a court decision, it is strongly recommended that you hire a lawyer.

    Getting back your deposit or “dépôt de garantie

    You probably paid a sum of money when you entered the home, known as the deposit or “dépôt de garantie”.

    Generally, the landlord will return this amount only when the “bail” is terminated.

    This means that if your ex-partner stays in the home, you may not be able to recover this money straight away.

    Notify the landlord of the situation in writing to ensure that they give you your share of the deposit or “dépôt de garantie” when your ex-partner leaves the accommodation.

  • Check the notice period of “délai de préavis

    You have a legal period to observe between the moment you notify your landlord of the termination of the lease or “bail” and the moment it is actually terminated.

    This period is referred to as the notice period or “délai de préavis”.

    It is typically three months, but is reduced to one month in the following situations:

    • you have filed a complaint against your ex-partner due to abuse committed within the relationship or of a child living with you and if:
      • the legal proceedings are still ongoing
      • or they have received alternative measures to prosecution
      • or they have been convicted
    • you have a protective measure ordered by the French judge known as the “ordonnance de protection
    • you live in a furnished home
    • your home is located in a place where demand is very high, known as a “zone tendue
    • you have just got your first job, moved to another city, lost your job, or found a new job as a result of job loss
    • your state of health requires a change of residence (you will need to provide a medical certificate to prove this)
    • you are entitled to financial assistance known as “revenu de solidarité active (RSA)” or “allocation aux adultes handicapés (AAH)
    • you have been allocated social housing.

    If you are not in any of these situations, you can still try to negotiate a shorter notice period with the landlord if you wish. This would allow you to leave faster without having to pay the rent for three months.

    Terminating the “bail

    You must send a letter to the landlord signed by both tenants to terminate the “bail” (template).

    Make sure to specify the notice period or “délai de préavis” that applies to you and whether you are entitled to a shorter notice period of only one month.

    Send the letter by registered post with recorded delivery or “lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception”. This is the only way to prove your letter has been received. Keep the receipt as proof of postage.

Find support

In France, there are many services that can support you, give you advice, and assist you with procedures and paperwork. Most of them are free of charge.

  • ADIL” services are local agencies that inform people about their right to housing and the solutions that exist for them.

    • This service is free of charge.
    • An adviser will be able to inform you and assist you in your search for accommodation.
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • Contact: you will find the contact details of the agency in your area in this directory.
  • Social workers or “travailleurs sociaux” and “assistants sociaux” are professionals who support people in their administrative procedures and help them find solutions according to the difficulties they are faced with.

    • These services are free of charge.
    • You can make an appointment to receive personalised advice according to your situation and help you with the next steps, for example: applications for state financial assistance, applications for social housing, registration with the French unemployment office “Pôle emploi”, etc.
    • Available languages: mainly French.
    • Contact: you can request an appointment with a “travailleur social” with:
  • The "PIMMS Médiation" are organisations that inform, guide or support in administrative procedures in many areas: access to public services, access to health care, applications for state financial assistance, tax declarations, declarations to “Pôle Emploi”, etc.

    • This service is free of charge.
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • Contact: you can find a “PIMMS Médiation” near you in this directory.

While the utmost care has gone into providing you with the most accurate and up to date information, this page is not intended to replace legal or professional advice. Laws and procedures change regularly so it is important to consult qualified professionals.

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