Frequently asked questions

If you need help, we have a list of frequently asked questions and answers.

We strive to give you the best experience possible. Click a question below to view the answer.

  • Virtual Campus Chart of quality
  • Housing in France
  • Our guaranties
  • How to book
  • Our commitment of clarity.
  • Tenant rights in France
  • House insurance
  • What do we expect from our properties?
  • Social feeback
  • How can we help
  • What do we expect from our tenants?
  • Entry formalities.
  • Exit formalities
  • Giving notice to terminate your lease
  • Cancelling your reservation
  • Lease and contract requirements
  • About Sub-letting
  • All about the deposit
  • Paying your rent
  • What is the charge break down?
  • Provision for utility charges
  • Building charges
  • Taxe d'habitation
  • Tax ordures ménagères (garbage removal tax)
  • Accountability
  • Internet: piracy laws and illegal downloads
City-junction and INSEAD have joined forces to establish a standard of quality. This is controlled and regulated so that both our students can enjoy their experience at INSEAD and our French owners can enjoy contact with our foreign students.

Choosing a property at a distance makes the quality control an invaluable asset. The Virtual Campus chart is a vital recognition of the standard of a property.

The inclusion/exclusion of our quality chart and the social ratings of our properties are updated twice a year by the Virtual Campus Commission, composed of INSEAD Student Life representatives and City Junction management team.
Most of the properties in Fontainebleau, are buildings which have been standing for 50 to 100 years. Some of our properties… for more than 300 years.
This refers only to the actual structures of the buildings, most apartments have been renovated inside. Please note however, that in some cases the common parts of the buildings have not been renovated to the same standard .

Our selection process insures that our properties are functional, clean and well maintained.
Over the past 15 years we have established a strong relationship with every one of our landlords.

Our goal is to provide and to maintain the best possible house selection and to provide a trusted partner that will help and support students in booking and rental process.

A mutual respect and understanding of each others expectations is important for all of us.
The booking is done in three steps.

Step 1
Once you have chosen a property and are happy to go ahead and book. We would need from you a copy of your passport and admissions letter to INSEAD; and an address outside France for the contracts.

Step 2
We will send you a reservation form to sign with all the details of your future apartment; ie monthly rental; deposit; address and contract duration. This form stands in place until the contracts are signed on your arrival with the owners. This is confirmation of your commitment to rent the apartment for the duration and with the price advertised; and the owner’s commitment to rent to you under the same conditions.

a At this point you will be expected to pay the deposit; which is normally two months rental without the charges; directly to the owner whose details we shall send you. You shall make another transfer to City Junction for the booking fee. These are two different transfers.
At this point we shall be sending you; information on the tenant insurance.

Step 3
Confirmation of the booking; and logistics of moving into the premises. We shall also at this point be issuing you an attestation of domicile for visa purposes; if applicable.
France has its own unique way to handle the property market.
Your rights, your obligations, insurances, utilities, charges included, excluded, provisioned, taxes, rental conditions, agent fees… there are so many details that come with renting a property.

Most of these “details” are regulated today by law, yet if you don’t know the law you may be overwhelmed once you get here. We are here to make it clear for you.

We want to make sure that you are aware of what is to expected from you and to make sure that you can plan and forecast your expenses. In the same way, we want to make sure both owners and tenants understand their obligations.
The French legal system is strongly pro-tenant.
Once the keys have been handed over, the landlord does not have the right to enter the property without the tenant's consent, and may be charged with trespassing or harassment for doing so.

The landlord does not have the right to check up on the tenant, for example, annual property inspections, unless this has been agreed in the rental contract.

They do have the right to enter the property to undertake essential work and routine maintenance (although not improvements to the property), with advance notice and the tenant must allow this.
Tenant insurance is obligatory in France.
You cannot move into your rented premises without it.This insurance covers the content of the property and the property itself against theft, risk of fire, explosion, broken windows and infiltration of water etc for which the tenant may be responsible. This insurance does not cover broken locks. This insurance normally is paid upfront for the lease period.

Landlords are also obliged to take out insurance for the property to cover their liability for claims arising from structural defects in the property, and for claims arising out of their repairing obligations.
We expect the agents, agencies or landlords to deliver the property in the same condition that was agreed upon.
The Virtual campus is not only extremely attentive to the quality and maintenance of its apartments, but also keeps a close eye on the agent, agencies or landlords.

Disrespectful behaviour may lead to a downgrade of a property or to complete exclusion from our site.
We will be sending a quick questionnaire at the end of your stay.
We will be asking you about your experience in the property and your relationship with your landlord.

This social feedback takes into account the feedback we will receive from you as well as from the community.

If you feel the rating doesn't truly represent the property and would mislead future students, please send us a mail immediately and we will rectify the ranking accordingly.
We will ensure both parties (landlords and tenants) are aware of their contract agreement and we will assist both parties by all acceptable means during their contract period.

You will be given access during the period of your stay, to an online folder containing to all the documents related to your rental : The student Safe house
Nothing is a problem if anticipated in advance.

The quicker we know about a problem the quicker we can help. Yet we are not magicians !

Contracts and mutual engagements prevail, yet it is always easier to fix a problem as soon as it occurs, rather than at the end of the lease
Please contact your agent or landlord to arrange a date and time in advance to complete for your entry formalities.

These include:
- Signing the contracts on your arrival. You will be expected to pay the first month rental from the start date of your contract and not the date of your arrival. Payment can be made either before your arrival or by bringing the rental with you.
- In addition to the tenancy agreement, you should be provided with a thorough inventory (état des lieux) that describes the content and condition of the items belonging to the landlord left in the property. This includes furniture, as well as the state of fixtures, fittings and décor.

It's critically important to ensure the inventory is complete and correct, as it will be the basis for any negotiations when you leave and reclaim your deposit, or if you have to undertake repairs during your tenancy.
Check the condition of the property against the inventory, and repair any damages or replace any losses to avoid deductions from your security deposit.
Allowance is made for normal wear and tear, existing faults or forces beyond the tenant’s control (force majeure).

If you do not have an inventory you may lose out if there is a dispute over the condition of the property.

The law is often on the side of the landlord, so if no inventory exists the tenant is presumed to have received the property in good condition and the landlord is likely to receive the benefit of the doubt in the event of a dispute.

However, if you have evidence of the property’s poor condition, such as in photographs, this will be taken into consideration.
Leases and contracts can be terminated with one month written notice in advance to the owner or agent.

When you give notice of your intention to leave the property you must send a registered letter, (lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception) to the party who signed the lease and obtain an acknowledgement of receipt. The official notice period starts from the date the registered letter is received.

- If you have a shorter contract and leave before the agreed end date of the contract, the owner may keep a portion of your deposit for damages or loss of income.
- All contracts have a penal clause protecting the landlords from late payments, which means if the rental is not paid on time, the first of the month for the month ahead, the owner is entitled to implement this clause.
We want to protect everyone’s interest.
Cancelling a reservation should not be an issue if the procedure is done correctly.

When you book a property, and in order to confirm this reservation, you will be asked to pay the security deposit. This amount shall be kept by your landlord until the end of your lease and refunded at the end of the rental period. In the reservation process, it will also serve as a firm confirmation of your engagement.

All cancellations are treated case by case.

However, we have set a framework in order for you to have a complete understanding of the process.

- Should you wish to cancel your reservation 2 months before arrival, your deposit will be fully refunded.
- In the event of a cancellation 30 to 60 days before your arrival, the landlord is entitled to keep 50% of the deposit as compensation.
- A cancellation less than 30 days before your arrival, the landlord is entitled to keep 100% of the deposit as compensation.
The lease should include:
- Description of the property rented
- Rental period (starting and end date)
- List of common areas
- Name and address of the landlord, or his representative
- Name and address of the tenant
- Use of the premises (ie principal residence; secondary residence; holiday residence)
- Rental amount, date of payment for rental due and terms of rent
- The description and amounts of the utilities included
- Amount of security deposit (limited to 2 months’ rent excluding utilities. It cannot be raised either on rental increase or renewal of the lease)

The conditions of the contract cannot be changed during the course of the contract.
The tenant does not have the right to sublet, assign or transfer all or part of the tenancy without the written consent of the landlord or agent.

Where the consent of the landlord is obtained, sub-letting is permitted between the tenant and the sub-tenant, except that neither the terms of the sub-tenancy, nor the rental amount or duration of the original contract can be changed.

When the head tenancy comes to an end, the sub-tenant as no further rights to remain in the property, other than by consent of the landlord.
ATTENTION ! Note that the return of your deposit (how long it will take and how much will be returned) will depend on how clean the property is when you leave in respect of the following:
- To replace all damaged objects or furniture, replace light bulbs if necessary,
- To clean the garden, if needed,
- To empty fridge, freezer, cupboards, closets from all your belongings,
- To pay any outstanding bill related to the use utilities
- To clean inside the oven, stove top etc
- To clean bedding sheets, dry clean duvets, pillows, etc…

Please make sure that bathrooms and all places of personal hygiene are to be cleaned properly.

Be prepared to leave your rental accommodation immediately after the premises have been checked by your landlord or by the agent. The apartment/house needs to be empty, clean and all luggage packed before the inspection can take place. It is in your interest to be present during these inspections.

According to French law, the balance of your security deposit has to be returned within 2 months after your departure. Any deduction made will have to be justified by invoices.

Remember that the state of your accommodation at the time of the exit inspection will determine further actions (i.e. deductions from your deposit for extra cleaning, repairs, etc.)

Provision for payment of household tax (taxe d’habitation) and tax for removal of garbage (taxe ordures menageres) must also be taken into account if this is not included in your utility charges.

Please note that the deposit cannot to be used in lieu of rental under any circumstances
Legally you are obliged to pay to the end of your rental period according to the dates stipulated on your contract.

If you decide to move out earlier, please take this into consideration

As a mandatory requirement, you will need to settle all outstanding rent and lease expenses before you leave. However, if the landlord accepts another booking before your notice period is complete, for the same period, you will be exempt from paying the full amount.
There is a list of charges attached to your rental.

Included: charges included in the monthly rental payment
Provisional: Some charges are variable depending on your consumption. The provisional charges are generally related to electricity. This may vary from 60€ per month to 400 € depending on the size of your apartment.

The final amount will be determined by the owner according the consumption reading at the end of your stay.
Most owners have included some of the utility charges into the rental to avoid opening and closing utility contracts (which is costly to tenants and landlords). These provisions are given to the owner by the utility companies based on the size of the property and the number of occupants and appliances in the apartment.

Please note that energy is VERY expensive and it is difficult to be precise about how much energy a tenant will use during the lease period. This will depend on several criteria such as weather conditions and number of occupants in the property.

Please also take into account that these electricity and gas accounts are not only based on your consumption but also include a tariff for the contract (+/- 10€) monthly + VAT at 20 percent.

Most utility bills are in the owner’s names, so it is not always easy to obtain a final bill as these bills are debited from the owners’ accounts each month, based on an estimation. It is therefore important that the metre readings are noted down on your entry and exit formalities as by using these figures, the owner is able to make a calculation of your actual consumption.
These are charges of the running cost of a building that are billed directly to the owner but are paid for by the tenant.

They include the electricity in the common hallways, lift maintenance, cleaning of the entrance to these buildings, garbage removal from the building onto the street and the maintenance of the gardens.
Charges vary depending on the services provided by the building.
This is a compulsary local residence tax which the occupier of a property is obliged to pay.

Technically it is invoiced directly to the resident who is present in the premises on the 1st January, otherwise it is invoiced to the landlord.

The cost is approximately 8% to 15% of the total rental for the year, payable in October.

Calculation of the tax and the final amount payable is made by the local council (commune), but the calculation and collection of the tax is carried out by the central government tax authority.

The formula for the calculation is complex but is largely based on the rental amount of the property.
Fontainebleau is a commune in the higher bracket for this tax.
This is a municipal garbage removal tax enforced by local authorities.
This tax is often included in the charges of the property and is payable by the tenant.
What will happen after your departure?
Did the landlord fulfil his obligations? Did you fulfil yours?

Accountability is where INSEAD and the Virtual campus join forces.
It is important to respect the housing market for future students to enjoy. As long as the properties are given back in the same condition they were found, with all rentals up to date, the deposits will be returned.

City Junction does not work with owners who unnecessarily retain deposits.
France has adopted the worlds strictest internet piracy laws in 2009.
Hadopi is a Paris based agency in charge of policing illegal downloads. They will procecute illegal downloads.

On reception of a complaint from a copyright holder, Hadopi will initiate a ‘Two strike’ procedure.
An email message will be sent to the offending internet access subscriber (this being the owner of the property) derived from the IP address involved. The email will specify the time of the claim.

Step 1 - a certified letter will be sent to the offending internet access subscriber with similar content to the original email message. In the event that the offender fails to comply following the reception of the letter, the second step of the procedure will evoked.

Step 2 - the offender will incur a fine of 1500 € with a suspension from the internet.