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Money Matters and Legal / In Law

Over 300 French real estate agencies under fire for not respecting the law

Property agency

A survey led by a consumer association finds that 392 French real estate agencies are not respecting the directives of the Alur law implemented two years ago.

The UFC-Que Choisir consumer association has conducted a survey of 1,246 agencies located across France to investigate whether or not they are respecting the Alur law and has reportedly found “breaches at every level.”

This follows a survey undertaken by the same organization in 2011, the results of which highlighted excessive agency fees for rental candidates and a lack of sufficient information about properties — in both displays and advice given by agents. UFC explains in a press release that its study had contributed to improvements set out by the Alur law of March 2014. This new survey was undertaken in November 2015, with results published this week.

According to the UFC, the agencies lack transparency. Over one in three agencies surveyed — 35%, against 28% in 2011 — did not always display the energy performance information for rental properties. However, “because of soaring energy prices, this is especially important information for the tenant who cannot insulate his or her housing,” says the association.

Similarly, fewer than one in five — 18% — respect the requirement to provide detailed information on rental fees and about a quarter of them — 26% against 21% in 2011 — still don’t “display any information on their agency fees,” which has been a legal obligation for 25 years.

Additionally, agency fees charged to tenants were meant to decrease by half, yet in “very tense areas” they have only dropped by 20% between 2011 and 2015, “far from the 50% promised.” In tense areas these fees have only decreased by 10% and have increased by 5% on average in normal areas — going from 7.1 to 7.5 euros per square meter.

Finally, four out of 10 agencies did not provide specific information regarding the property’s location. “When you see the quality of information on sites like Airbnb (with photos, detailed descriptions, opinions…) for barely one week stays, it is inconceivable to have as little information for locations in which tenants will live for several months or a number of years,” states Alain Bazot, the head of UFC-Que Choisir.

Bazot added that he has written a letter to the new Housing Minister Emmanuelle Cosse in which he points out these breaches. If the agencies where “illegalities” have been discovered do not “conform to their legal obligations,” UFC will consider taking legal action against them.

Photo credit: Wikipedia / Efca Prod

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