Getting that rental deposit back

As I've often noted in this column, French law is clearly favourable to tenants but it doesn't offer immediate protection against dodgy landlords. Barry writes from Lytham St Anne's in the UK to say that during a year on a student exchange programme in Nice he rented a studio. When he left - last summer! - the woman owner promised to return his deposit (caution) "within weeks". Since then she's ignored his letters and three times hung up on him immediately. Barry tells me she has no complaint about how he left the studio and they parted "on good terms". 

Clearly, she's "a dodgy landlord", probably hoping that given the distance between them Barry will just give up. I hope he doesn't. Again, the law is clear: where there is no dispute over l'état des lieux (I've explained this earlier), a landlord is bound to return the deposit within 2 months. Where this doesn't happen and ill-will is obviously at work, as in Barry's case, appeal can be made - by registered letter - to the commission départementale de conciliation at the prefecture, explaining the circumstances. I'm told this official intervention often does the trick. Also, as a student, Barry could make his case to the CROUS which handles university accommodation ( Anyway, Bonne chance!

From Riviera Reporter 122, Aug/Sept 2007