Hey guys! Today my post is about rental assistance. Yes! you can get rental assistance even if you don’t have French citizenship. Many of you will be students or already working, and we all know how hard it is to make ends meet when your expenses are high!
Who is the local housing allowance (LHA) for?
You’ve just found the perfect apartment in Paris but the rent is way too high given your monthly income (meaning your income is low)? The City of Paris grants both foreigners living here and French people a kind of local housing allowance (LHA) through the rental assistance program of the very famous “Caisse Nationale d’Allocations Familiales” known as CAF.
So this may help reduce your expenses and the good news is that you could be eligible! However, given the volume of paperwork and the high number of applicants (families and students) it can take up to several months for your application to be processed, but your payment will be backdated to the months you’re are eligible in.
If you want to make sure you’re eligible before applying for rental assistance, you can do a simulation on the CAF website. You will need to enter the following information into the calculator:
- your past earnings/salaries
- your current income
- information about your roommates or family
What are the different steps for your LHA application?
1/ Go on the CAF website and fill out the online application form: you can now complete your application online and upload documents (PDF) at home. You will need to enter information about your occupation status (whether you work or are a student, unemployed) and personal situation (if you live alone or with roommates, have children, have a scholarship/grant and your income for the last 2 years). If you have roommates, you’ll also need to enter information about their own situation. This may influence the the extent to which you benefit. In terms of income, you’ll need to include your gross/net income for the current tax year i.e. the year before your application.
2/ Follow the onscreen instructions and fill out each field to complete the application. Many of the fields concern social welfare (social security) and disability benefits can be left blank.
3/ Once you have uploaded and printed the documents, you’ll need to send them to the CAF (by mail) with the other required documents: a copy of your residence permit called ‘Titre de Séjour’ in French if you’re a non-EU citizen and your bank account details, called “RIB” in French etc. Note that if you still haven’t received your ‘titre de séjour’, you can send a copy of your Visa to speed up the process.
4/ Once you’ve completed your application, you’ll have to print what we call in French the ‘attestation de loyer’, a type of form which sums up your personal information, the landlord information and your rental details: furnished/unfurnished, rental period (length the lease agreement), the apartment size (in m²), the number of rooms, of occupants, the rent excluding charges (note that your housing benefit will be calculated based on the rent excluding charges).
5/ Both you and the landlord will have to sign the ‘attestation de loyer’, and then you’ll need to send it back to the CAF (by mail). You will get the payment of your housing benefit within the month following your application.
6/ Note that once you have completed your application, the CAF will send you a ‘carte d’allocataire’, literally ‘beneficiary card‘ with your beneficiary number and your secret code (code confidentiel in French) that will allow you to access your online account on the CAF website.
What you should know if your situation changes
Most importantly, if your situation changes (you get pregnant or decide to move), you’ll need to declare it to the CAF by sending the ‘declaration de changement de situation’ form by mail. In the two aforementioned cases:
- Pregnancy: the French “Earned Income Supplement” (RSA) is available to any pregnant woman, even under the age of 25. It is a benefit generally granted to the unemployed conditionally. How do you get it? Ladies, you’ll need to fill out the “Demande de RSA” form that you can then upload onto the CAF website.
You’ll then send it to the CAF by post. Once they have processed your documents and application, you’ll receive a response (whether they accept it or not). If your request is accepted, you’ll also be granted a basic benefit/allowance (180 euros per child) called “allocation de base”.
Note that you can apply for RSA from the 3rd month of pregnancy, and that the application process can take as long as to 1 or 2 months but your payment will be backdated to the month in which you made the request and will be combined with your housing benefit. If you are a single mother, you will be given what is called the “RSA majoré”, an supplement combined with the earned income supplement until your child is 3.
- If you’re moving: Note that the CAF of the arrondissement you live in will transfer your folder to the CAF of the arrondissement you’re moving to (with the new address you’ve provided). This can take up to 1 month, sometimes longer, so you should be prepared for this!