Applying for social and affordable housing in France

If you have limited financial resources, you can apply to rent a home known as a social housing or “logement social”, also known as an “HLM”. This is rent-controlled housing that is usually much more affordable than private housing. If you have been faced with domestic abuse, you could be put on the priority list of applicants.

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What is involved?

Social housing is more affordable housing for people with limited resources. The rent is controlled and below market prices.

This is managed by organisations known as “bailleurs sociaux” which allocate housing to applicants who meet the conditions according to priority criteria.

Conditions

  • To apply for social housing, you must:

    • have residency rights authorising you to live in France for more than three months
    • not exceed the maximum amount of resources. This amount depends on the type of accommodation, its location and the number of people to be housed, and varies depending on the French departments.
  • If you have received a telephone allocated by a judge called the “Téléphone Grave Danger”, or serious danger phone, and you apply for social housing, this accommodation can be allocated to you automatically.

    You can contact the organisation responsible for managing the “Téléphone Grave Danger” and that assisted you for more information about the procedure for applying for social housing in your situation.

  • If you lived with your partner and are leaving the home due to domestic abuse, you are considered a priority for obtaining social housing. Applicable law: “Code de la construction et de l’habitation”, art. L-441.1.”

    In your application, you will have to provide an official document from the family court judge called “juge aux affaires familiales (JAF)” providing evidence of the abuse, i.e.:

    • either a provisional decision that sets out emergency measures such as the authorisation to live separately, with your children if you have any
    • or the allocation of a protection order or “ordonnance de protection”.

    However, in practice, some organisations who manage social housing known as “bailleurs sociaux” also accept the filing of a complaint with the police as proof of abuse. In this case, you will only need to provide the document proving that you have taken this step, known as the “récépissé de plainte”.

    You should receive social housing more quickly than it usually takes. However, waiting times vary dramatically depending on the department where you live, and are sometimes very long.

How to proceed

  • Documents to provide

    In your application, you will need to include the following documents:

    • a photo of your identity document, e.g. both sides of your identity card or your passport
    • a photo of your residence permit or “titre de séjour” if you are not a citizen of a member state of the European Union
    • documents that can prove your financial resources, such as payslips and tax notices
    • if you have experienced domestic abuse, documents proving the abuse you have suffered:
      • if possible, a judgement from the family court judge or “juge aux affaires familiales
      • otherwise, a document proving that you have filed a complaint, called a “récépissé de plainte”.

    Applying online

    The majority of social housing applications are now submitted online.

    The steps are as follows:

    • Log in to this website and fill in the form.
    • Upload the different documents requested. Make sure your application is as complete as possible.
    • Once your application has been registered, someone will verify the copy of your identity document and validate your application.
    • Once your application has been validated, you will receive an application number called a “numéro unique d’enregistrement” within five working days of submitting your application. This number will allow you to follow the progress of your case online.

    Applying in person

    It is also possible to submit your application in person at a branch.

    You must complete this form and submit it together with all the documents requested.

    You can find a list of available branches in your town or city on this website:

    • click on “Connaître les offres de logements sociaux sur une commune
    • enter your postcode
    • select “Consulter la liste des guichets” at the bottom of the page.

    Getting help

    If you are not sure how to complete your application, you can make an appointment with a professional who will help you fill it in.

  • Finding accommodation

    Once your application has been recorded, you can find accommodation in several ways:

    • Either wait until you receive an offer of accommodation that meets your criteria as much as possible. Unfortunately, the time it takes to obtain social housing can vary from weeks to many years depending on the region.
    • Apply directly for housing advertised by “bailleurs sociaux”. Sometimes there are search sites by department, such as this website for Paris. You can ask about how to apply for offers in your area by contacting your local town hall or “mairie”.
    • Apply for housing advertised via a system for rehousing victims of domestic abuse offered by these organisations.

    You can track the progress of your case online with your application number or “numéro unique d’enregistrement”.

    Remember to update your contact details if they change so you don’t miss out on an offer.

    Highlighting the urgency of your situation

    In order to speed up the acquisition of social housing, it can be useful to follow a procedure called the enforceable right to housing or “droit au logement opposable (Dalo)” with the departmental committee known as the “commission de médiation”.

    To do so, you must meet the conditions for allocating social housing, as well as at least one of the following criteria:

    • have been requesting social housing for an abnormally long waiting period without having received an offer suited to your needs
    • be homeless; for example, if you are staying with people close to you
    • have a court decision that evicts you from your home
    • have been staying in a hostel or hotel for more than six months
    • be housed in premises unsuitable for habitation, or which are unsanitary or dangerous
    • have a disability, or have a person with a disability in your care
    • have at least one child who is a minor and occupy an improper or over-occupied dwelling.

    It is recommended that you seek the support of professionals to do this.

    The procedure to follow will depend on whether you live in the Ile-de-France region or in another region. This is detailed on this website.

    Renewing your application every year

    If you do not receive a response after one year and you still want to obtain social housing, you must renew your application.

    You can renew your application:

    • online on the site where you registered it, with your application number or “numéro unique d’enregistrement
    • or at the office where you submitted your first application.

What to do if you experience discrimination

A “bailleur social” does not have the right to refuse your application on the basis of certain discriminatory criteria, such as your origin, health, sexual orientation or religion.

If you think that you have received less favourable treatment in your search for accommodation due to discrimination, there are solutions to assert your rights.

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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