When renting a dwelling, the tenant must make a "security deposit", also known as a "caution", which he must pay when signing the removal contract, and which will be returned to him when the contract expires, but under certain conditions.

The entry inventory of fixtures

Before the keys are handed over to a tenant, an inventory of fixtures must be drawn up. This document contains a description of the dwelling, room by room, detailing the condition of the walls, ceiling, floor, equipment and furniture in some cases.  

End of the lease

Before leaving the rented accommodation, the Tenant will have to go through the stage of the "exit inventory of fixtures". This procedure consists of making an inventory of the dwelling and checking that the premises on the tenant's departure are in conformity with those on his arrival. This document records any deterioration affecting the premises and the tenant's failure to comply with his obligations in terms of maintenance and repairs. The inventory of fixtures is carried out in the presence of the tenant and the owner or his legal representative. This stage may be more or less long, depending on the condition of the accommodation and whether it is furnished or not.

This document must be consistent with the document drawn up when the tenant occupied the premises and which was signed at the beginning of the lease describing the condition of the dwelling. It is the comparison of these two states that will determine the conformity of the premises at the time of occupation by the tenant with their state at the end of the lease.

In practice, only two thirds of the security deposits are returned to the tenants in full and the last third is retained by the landlords. In this respect, the law gives landlords two months to return the security deposit to their tenants if any deterioration is noted, and only one month if the condition of the premises on leaving is in line with that on entering. The keys to the property are returned to the owner or his representative in person, and may even be returned to him by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.

On what basis must a landlord return or withhold the deposit?

The owner is authorised by law to retain part or all of the security deposit in certain cases, such as the need to carry out work or in the case of unpaid rent and charges. However, in order to be able to retain part or all of the deposit, evidence must be available at the time of drawing up the outgoing condition, such as photos, videos recorded at the time of drawing up the incoming condition, unpaid invoices or a bailiff's report. Following this, if the amount of work or unpaid invoices is less than the deposit, the difference must be returned to the tenant. In addition, the tenant must not under any circumstances pay for any work relating to the age of the property in question, bearing in mind that it is possible to attach an age chart to the rental agreement at the time of signing, in order to differentiate between age and deterioration.

What to do if the owner refuses to draw up an inventory of fixtures and fittings?

It is possible that the landlord may refuse to carry out the exit inventory of fixtures or may voluntarily postpone the deadline. In this case, the tenant can give him formal notice, but only if an amicable agreement has been unsuccessful. Furthermore, if the property in question is sold, it is up to the new owner to carry out the exit inventory and return the deposit to the tenant.