We intend to hire a van and move ourselves, so no third party contact (except the van hire) and the estate agent has said he can leave the keys in a ziplock bag. However, our letting agent is saying that because they will not accept our keys or organise a final leaving check of the state of the property (état des lieux) during the confinement period, we are forbidden to leave and legally obliged to pay the rent for the entirety of confinement.
I replied that of course we will pay rent for any additional days we stay but that then we could take photos of the house, sterilise and return the keys to a place of their choosing (their office is closed). We accept our deposit would be held until a formal check-out could be arranged but that it is not our responsibility to cover the rent simply because they cannot arrange a check-out visit during the confinement.
They said none of this is acceptable because as they have waived the end of our lease we do not have the right to move. Can you help?
The government website giving information on the coronavirus confinement period (www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus) makes it clear that private individuals can move house if they are unable to postpone for any reason. If you have to move you must respect Covid-19 health barrier recommendations and contact your local police or gendarmes to inform them and ask whether there are any particular regulations to respect in your area.
For the move you must carry a paper dated and signed by you where you declare on your honour that you cannot put off having to move house (in your case this could be due to possible financial restraints of renting and paying a mortgage) and you include both the address you are leaving and the address to which you are moving.
Using a removals company is only possible in exceptional situations, moving yourself with a hired van is a better solution.
If your lease has come to an end you can ask to stay until the end of the confinement period, but you can also leave if you choose.
In the situation above it will depend on the arrangement made between the owner to stay beyond April 7. If you leave, the government site advises it is best to defer the check-out (état des lieux) but it is possible to organise one. You can ask a baliff huissier de justice to do this for you, or the site says it is also possible using photos and videos. You can send the keys to the owner by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.
As every situation is individual and different, anyone in dispute with their landlord during this period is advised to get in touch by phone or email with their local Agence Nationale pour l’Information sur le Logement (ANIL) branch for free advice. Find your local branch at anil.org under VOTRE ADIL.
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