Housing

Finding housing in France can be difficult, especially on a small budget, and even more so when you are a foreigner. Difficult, but far from impossible: it is all about getting organised!

It is important that you anticipate your stay beforehand and not wait to be in France to look for housing. Caen is a busy university city with a dense student population (about 25% of its global population!), and it can be quite challenging to find suitable housing at the last minute.

Finding student housing

Depending on the length of your stay, your budget and your expectations, several types of accommodation are available to you.  We have listed some of them to guide you in your search: 

To facilitate your search for housing, UNICAEN has set up partnerships with the CROUS and the private platform STUDAPART.

In 2023/2024, due to a high number of lower income French applicants, the CROUS will only be able to allocate a very limited number of accommodations to international students prior to their arrival in France. Therefore, you should look for other types of accommodation.

If you come to Caen as part of an exchange programme or for a French language education (DUEF), your accommodation request must be made directly with the administrator of your programme :

he CROUS Normandie, a partner of the University of Caen Normandie, offers a wide range of university housing options on the different campuses in Caen (single rooms, studios, single bedroom apartment, …).

CROUS housing is not offered on all campuses (especially remote campuses).

Pricesfrom €154.50 (standard room) to about €400.
Furnishedyes
Utilities (water, heating, electricity)included in rent
Internet accessincluded in rent*
Eligible for CAF rental aidyes
Deposit1 month of rent
Rental guarenteemandatory, VISALE guarantee possible
Lease term1 month, without tacit renewal
Departure notice1 month
Possibility to book from abroadyes
Housing insurancemandatory
Disabled accessyes, reserved accommodations

*with rare exception. WIFI access : in some accommodations.

Pros…

  • Turnkey housing with no additional steps to take on site, allowing you to settle in quickly and easily.
  • Very attractive prices
  • Direct access to the Crous infrastructure and to the network of student referents
  • Conviviality
  • Direct access to the tramway serving the different campuses

…and cons

  • Limited number of accommodation
  • No housing specifically reserved for international students (except for French government scholarship holders – BGF)
  • Age limit is 30 years old
  • The Crous is not present on all remote campuses
  • Subletting and free accommodation are strictly forbidden and will cause you to be expelled

First application

You will be able to apply for CROUS housing online at the beginning of the summer : https://trouverunlogement.lescrous.fr/

If your application is approved, you will have to confirm your reservation by paying an advance on the rent via messervices.etudiant.gouv.fr > Manage your housing > Cité’U section. If the application is rejected, do not hesitate to regularly return to the site to see the available housing and make a new application.

Renewal application

If you already have accommodation at the CROUS and wish to keep it, you must apply for renewal in the spring at messervices.etudiant.gouv.fr > Manage your accommodation > Cité’U.

Our advice: it is possible that the answer from the CROUS will arrive in your spam. Don’t forget to check!

In partnership with Studapart, you can have access to hundreds of exclusive offers for a duration of 1 to 24 months near your campus but also throughout France, for instance during your search for an internship: studios, shared apartments, rooms in private homes … and you will receive personalized support throughout your rental!

From the rental file to reserving your accommodation, all the steps are done online. The rental file is simplified and in 100% digital format. Studapart assists you during the entire duration of your stay !

  • Exclusive offers for students of University of Caen Normandie
  • Verified ads and secured payment
  • Simplified rental file & 100% online procedures
  • Studapart guarantee for students who don’t have a guarantor living in France
  • Multilingual support team

To get started, click on the tenant space and create an account on the platform!

Studapart offers housing in student residences or private rentals.

Studapart rent prices are higher than those of the CROUS, which can be explained in part by the quality of the services offered as well as a certain difference in the level of comfort.

With their flexibility and simplified booking procedures, these residences are ideal for students planning short stays in France (less than a year) or for first-time students looking for an alternative to accommodation in a CROUS residence.

Caracteristics

Types of accomodationEquipped studios
Priceshigher than the Crous. About 500€ per month
Furnished with equipped kitchen*yes
Utilities (water, heating, electricity, internet)included in rent*
Eligible for CAF rental aidyes
Depositask the residence
Rental guarenteeask the residence
Lease termpossibility of a short lease
Departure noticeask the residence
Possibility to book from abroadyes
Housing insurancemandatory, can be included in the rent
Disabled accessAsk the residence

*Equipped kitchen: refrigerator, hotplates, microwave (see with each residence)

Pros & cons of private student residences

Pros…
  • Turnkey housing with no additional steps to take on site, allowing for quick and easy installation.
  • Easy booking from abroad
  • Personalized assistance
  • Conviviality
  • Depending on the residence, access to facilities (gyms, laundromats etc…)
…and cons
  • Higher prices
  • Limited number of accommodation units

The type of housing offered for rent varies a lot: from a room rented by a private landlord to a shared apartment with other students, to individual studio or one-bedroom apartments.

This type of accommodation gives you access to housing subsidies from the CAF (Make sure to check with the owner beforehand).

As this type of housing is often difficult or even impossible to access from abroad, Studapart makes it easier for international students to apply.

Pros & cons of private rentals

Pros…
  • Varied choices in the type of accommodation and location
  • Greater independence
  • Possibility of having access to larger spaces
  • Possibility of living in a shared apartment
  • Pets are allowed (with the owner’s agreement)
…and cons
  • Some apartments are unfurnished (you will need to buy your own furniture)
  • No shared amenities (TV room, gym etc.)
  • Private owners are sometimes reluctant to rent to international students
  • Owners generally require longer periods of stay (minimum 6 months)
  • The owner can refuse some rental guarantees and require a guarantor residing in France.

Even though these campuses are all attached to UNICAEN, they don’t all provide CROUS housing options.
Each site offers many off-campus options, some of which are approved by the CROUS.

Get in touch with the local university correspondents (such as the Maison de l’étudiant in Cherbourg) who are familiar with the local environment and will provide you with many housing tips.

If you already have family in France who can help you before your arrival, you can look for accommodation using other websites that list rental ads in the private rental sector such as:

Homestay accommodation

Are you looking for reasonably priced housing? Have you thought about living with an elderly person? The Association LIEN – Logement Intergénération En Normandie offers cohabitations between young people and seniors to participate in bringing generations together in a spirit of mutual aid and solidarity.

It is not a simple cohabitation: in exchange for reduced rent, you will have to participate in breaking the social isolation of the person who is hosting you. To take part in this scheme, you must therefore be a sociable person, which means having the desire to help someone.

This friendly system also allows the student to feel less alone and less isolated in a country in which he has just arrived.

Temporary housing

When you arrive at UNICAEN, you may need temporary accommodation until you move into your permanent home. There are many platforms that offer hotel rooms or temporary rentals with local people, among which :

Housing assistance

To rent an accommodation in France, you will need to provide a payment guarantee. For landlords this type of deposit is the only way to guarantee that the monthly rents will be paid, if the occupants stop paying them.

You have several options:

The third-party guarantor is a physical person, French or European resident, who will co-sign the rental contract with you and will be held accountable for your rent if you face financial difficulties

Visale is a governmental rent guarantee system. It is completely free and open to all students between 18 and 30 years old who are looking for housing in the private or public rental sector. As with housing, this process must be done on the Internet and can therefore be anticipated from your country of origin.

Unlike the CROUS, private landlords are not required to accept the Visale as a rental guarantee. Before applying for Visale online, talk to your landlord (residence manager, homeowner, rental agency …) to find out if they accept this type of guarantee.

Other private organizations offer guarantee packages:

Be sure to check with your landlord to make sure they accept this guarantee system.

In France, your student status gives you access to specific social benefits, including the CAF (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales) housing benefits. This financial aid is given directly to the landlords and deducted from your monthly rent.

Once you have signed your rental agreement, you must create your personal CAF account on the CAF website.

At the beginning of the academic year, most university residences assist students with their CAF online application.

As an example, for a basic CROUS room in Caen with a monthly rent of €254, CAF financial aid is approximately €85/month. However, the amount may differ according to your specific situation (rent, city of residence, housing type and size, etc.).

Home insurance

No matter which type of accommodation you will choose, you will have to subscribe to two mandatory insurance policies:

  • Home insurance
  • Personal liability

Housing insurance covers damages made to your habitation and goods, in case for instance of a fire, water damages or robbery.

Personal liability covers physical and/or psychological injuries you may cause to a third party if you are held responsible, for instance, for a fire or water damage in your place of residence.

A proof of home insurance with personal liability will be required when signing your rental agreement. Failure to present these documents will result in termination of your tenancy agreement, even for CROUS housing.

Most insurance companies provide home insurance with personal liability coverage for approximately €60 per year

Find the home insurance that fits your needs by using online comparators:

Even if you are sharing a house, subletting, or staying for free, you must have home insurance. In these cases, the easiest and most economical way is to ask to be added to the home insurance policy of the person you live with.

Additional information

In France, renting a home is regulated by law, with a set of rules that apply to the renter, the owner, the deposit (“caution”) and, if applicable, the guarantor (“garant“ in French)

Before accepting your housing application, the landlord will review your file to see if you are a reliable candidate and to ensure that you are able to pay your rent during the term of the lease.

Rental application documents

Tenant’s DocumentsGuarantor’s Documents
Valid identity documentValid identity document
Proof of residenceProof of address (in France)
Student card or registration certificate for the current yearProof of employment status
Proof of income: your guarantor’s income will be used as proof of income. However, you can also attach your employment contract and your last three pay slips (if applicable) and/or scholarship certificate (for scholarship holders).Proof of income: to be considered acceptable, your guarantor must have a monthly income equal to at least 3 times the rent.

FiFind more information about the required documents on the Service public website.

Even with a complete file, the landlord is free to refuse your application without having to justify his refusal.
Most landlords are reluctant to rent their properties to people whose guarantor works and lives abroad.

And what happens afterward?

If your application is accepted by the landlord, you and your guarantor will be asked to sign a lease or rental agreement.
When you sign the lease, you will have to pay your deposit. This deposit allows you to secure the accommodation.

Home insurance is mandatory and will be requested when you receive the keys.

Every rental must be covered by a tenancy agreement. This contract lists the rights and obligations of the owner and the tenant. It must contain the following elements: name and address of the owner, name(s) of the tenant(s), effective date and duration of the rental, characteristics of the property, amount of rent and charges, and terms for renewal or termination of the rental.

Find more information about the tenancy agreements on the Service public website.

Without this contract, your tenancy is not considered legal, and you cannot receive housing benefit.

The guarantor is the person who, in a written document called a deed of guarantee, commits to the owner of the rented accommodation to pay the tenant’s rental debts. For students, it is often the parents who act as guarantor, but it is not mandatory that the guarantor be a family member.

Even though it is not mandatory, most landlords or organisations require a guarantor.

For students who do not have a guarantor, or whose guarantor is not considered acceptable (this is often the case when the person lives and works abroad), there are joint guarantor systems, such as VISALE or Studapart.

Find more information about the rental agreements on the Service public website.

The deposit is a sum paid by the tenant to the owner at the time of signing the contract to cover possible risks related to the rental: unpaid rents or other costs, rental repairs in case of material damage caused by the tenant, etc.

The amount, the payment and the recovery of the deposit are strictly defined by law. These terms must also be included in the rental contract :

  • Furnished rental: the security deposit cannot exceed 2 months’ rent excluding charges
  • Unfurnished rental: the security deposit cannot exceed 1 month’s rent excluding charges
  • Return of the security deposit: 2 months from the date of handing over the keys, or 1 month if no damage is noted in the inventory of fixtures at the end of the rental period (longer periods for the CROUS). Do not close your French bank account before the deposit is returned !

Le dépôt de garantie est une somme versée par le locataire au propriétaire au moment de la signature du contrat pour couvrir d’éventuels risques liés à la location : loyers ou charges impayés, réalisation des réparations locatives en cas de dégâts matériels de la responsabilité du locataire etc

Le montant, le versement, ainsi que la restitution de la garantie sont strictement encadrés par la loi. Ces modalités doivent également figurer dans le contrat de location :

  • location meublée : le dépôt de garantie ne peut pas être supérieur à 2 mois de loyer hors charges
  • location vide : le dépôt de garantie ne peut pas être supérieur à 1 mois de loyer hors charges
  • Restitution du dépôt de garantie :  délai de 2 mois à compter de la remise des clés, ou 1 mois si aucune dégradation n’est constatée dans l’état des lieux de sortie (délais plus longs pour les Crous). Pensez à ne pas clôturer votre compte bancaire français avant la restitution de la caution

The owner may decide to keep all or part of the deposit if the inventory of fixtures is not in order or if there are payment arrears. This retention must be justified by official documents.

Find more information about the security deposit on the Service public website.

Le locataire est tenu de verser le montant du loyer du mois (avec les charges) à une date prévue dans le contrat de location.

La loi prévoit que le locataire peut payer son loyer par tout moyen (chèque, virement bancaire ou espèces). Cependant, dans la pratique, le règlement en espèces est parfois refusé et mieux vaut en discuter avec son propriétaire ou l’organisme locataire en amont.

En cas de paiement complet du loyer, le locataire peut demander au propriétaire de lui transmette gratuitement une quittance de loyer.

The tenant is required to pay the monthly rent (including utilities) by a date specified in the tenancy agreement.

The law provides that the tenant may pay the rent by any means (check, bank transfer or cash). However, in practice, payment in cash is sometimes refused and it is better to discuss this with the landlord or the rental agency beforehand.

In case of full payment of the rent, the tenant can ask the landlord to send him a rent receipt free of charge.

Find more information about the rental payment on the Service public website.

See the Housing Assistance and Home Insurance sections on this same page.

Leaving your accommodation on the date specified in the tenancy agreement

You must inform your landlord in order to set an appointment for the inventory check at the end of the contract (to make sure that you leave your accommodation clean and in good condition) and for the return of the keys. Your deposit will be returned to you within a maximum period of 1 month (except for CROUS housing where the delays can be longer).

Leaving your accommodation before the date specified in your tenancy agreement

You must inform your landlord of your departure date by sending a certified letter with acknowledgement of receipt or a hand-delivered letter in exchange for a receipt: this is called the préavis (notice)

This notice must be given 1 month before the date of departure for furnished accommodation and 3 months before for unfurnished accommodation. Even if you leave before the notice date, and if there is no new tenant, you must continue to pay your rent.

At the end of your notice period, you will have to check and hand in the inventory, hand over the keys to the owners, and get back your deposit within 1 month (except for CROUS where periods of time can be longer).

Find more information on the Service public website.

Subletting is the action of allowing someone to rent all or a part of the accommodation that you are renting from someone else.

In the private rental sector, this practice is authorized on the condition that the tenant obtains the owner’s agreement before subletting.

The amount of rent requested by the subletting tenant cannot be higher than the one paid by that tenant to the owner.
It is recommended to draw up a sublease contract that will allow the sub-renter to benefit from CAF housing assistance.

At the CROUS and in private residences, subletting is strictly forbidden and is punished by the immediate expulsion of the tenant from the accommodation.

Find more information about subletting on the Service public website.

In France, housing tax (taxe d’habitation) is a tax that applies to every person (owner, tenant or free occupant) who occupies a property. It is paid by the person occupying the property on January 1st of the tax year. The housing tax must be paid before November 15 of the year.

A foreign student occupying a dwelling in France on January 1st will have to pay housing taxes, except if he/she lives in a dwelling belonging to a student residence or a furnished room rented by an owner. If he/she arrives in France after January 1st, the student can be exempted from the contribution.

How to be exempted from the housing tax? It can be very expensive (more than one month’s rent!). To be exempted, we advise you to file a tax return with your local tax office.

When you move in, don’t forget to put your name on your mailbox. Without it, you may not receive your mail.

When you move out (or if you’re going to be away for a long time), give your new address to state agencies and other organizations that may send you mail.

A website offers a simplified procedure for notifying your new address to most government agencies (EXCEPT the Préfecture): https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/R11193

To be sure to continue to receive your mail, you can also opt for the mail redirection (paying service) proposed by La Poste.