Coronavirus and lockdown: impact of Covid-19 on real estate rentals

Following the first wave of Covid-19 and the government announcements of 28/10/2020 related to the second wave of the Coronavirus, a number of restrictions were put in place.

What are the impacts of these restrictions related to the health crisis on the real estate rental for the tenants and the lessors?

A certain number of questions arise:
  • Can the rental contract be broken or cancelled  without notice because of the measures related to Covid-19? 
  • How is the notice period managed with this period of containment? Can it be shortened ? 
  • Can the effective date of the rental contract be postponed  ? 

At this stage, the rental contracts of the premises for residential use remain fully and strictly applicable.

Generally speaking, the particular cases and exceptional situations must be treated directly in an amicable way between tenants and owners.

We are there to facilitate this communication between tenants and owners and to maintain the relation of trust.

However, in the event of a dispute, it may be useful for the owner or the tenant to call upon a mediator or the ANIL (Agence Nationale pour l'Information sur Le Logement).

1. Payment of rent and charges

In the context of the health and containment crisis, rents and charges remain due and without deferral for residential leases. Rents and charges must therefore normally be paid by the lessee(s) and in accordance with the terms and conditions contained in the lease agreement.
Lessors and (co-)tenants are required to perform their contractual obligations.

2. Cancellation of the lease before the start of the lease

What if the tenant has signed a new lease agreement with an effective date that falls within the lockdown period?
Is it possible to cancel or terminate a lease before the start of the lease, as a lessee or lessor, because of Covid-19 and containment?
The short answer is: no, it's not possible.

Whether it is for a furnished or empty rental, it is not possible to terminate a lease from one day to the next.
The breaking of a lease, by the tenant, must be the subject of a leave addressed to the lessor or his representative by respecting a period of notice during which, the rent must be paid.
If ever the tenant cannot move into the new accommodation, it is preferable to find an amicable agreement with the lessor in order to decide together on a postponement of the effective date of the rental contract and thus of the payment of the rent.
Even if the new tenant cannot move into the accommodation, the landlord cannot unilaterally break his lease without notice (unless amicable agreement is reached with the tenant).
In the case of a residential lease that is tacitly renewable, the owner can only discharge the tenant at the renewal of the lease, with a notice period that varies according to the type of rental (furnished or empty).
At this stage, there are no announcements or government measures, related to Covid-19, in the case of residential leases. Rents must be paid in accordance with the signed lease.

3. Deferring the effective start date of the lease

If an incoming tenant is unable to take possession of the unit due to Covid-19 and containment, the tenant may request a deferral of the effective date of the lease from the landlord. In this case, the execution of the contract and the payment of the rents are obviously suspended until the new effective date agreed between the two parties.

4. Management of the notice of end of the lease

The emergency health and containment situation does not modify the contractual notice period according to the type of rental, furnished or empty.

Shortening the notice period

At this stage, the lessee cannot demand a reduction of the notice period due to the Covid-19 except with the agreement of the lessor.

Extending the rental beyond the term of the notice

The other case concerns the tenant who has already given notice and must leave the accommodation during the confinement. What to do if the tenant cannot move any more or is constrained to remain in the housing because of the current pandemic and the confinement? Always in the spirit of the amicable agreement, the tenant must approach the owner as soon as possible to ask him, given the exceptional situation, to remain longer in the housing (until the end of the period of confinement). If the owner agrees, the tenant can then extend the rental directly from his MorningCroissant account in the case of a medium-term rental (1 month - 10 months) or by contacting us to change the end date of the lease in the case of a long-term rental (1 year tacitly renewable).

5. Inventory of fixtures

It is important to draw up a contradictory inventory of fixtures at the entrance and exit.
Indeed it is the comparison of these two inventories that will make it possible to establish the responsibilities and the level of possible degradations in the event of disagreement.

To our knowledge, it is not prohibited to carry out an inventory of fixtures of the accommodation currently provided that the gestures barriers as well as the social distancing are respected.

However, given the health circumstances, it seems judicious either:
  • to carry out the inventory of fixtures by dematerialized means (by exchange of photos, videos, ...), many applications such as Homepad facilitate this; 
  • or to postpone, in agreement with the owner, the establishment of the inventory of fixtures at the end of the lockdown. 
Another option: you can also call upon a bailiff to establish the inventory of fixtures.

To facilitate things, MorningCroissant provides a model of inventory of fixtures pre-filled at each rental.

Whatever the solution considered, we remind you the importance of not carrying out the inventory of fixtures lightly.
This document is key to ensure that there is evidence of the condition of the property when it is vacated.

6. Removal

At this stage, removals are still authorized upon proof from the removal company or with a dispensatory removal certificate if there is no removal company involved.
On the other hand, in the respect of sanitary restrictions, it will not be possible to get help from friends for the move.


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