Around a million students are trying every year to find a suitable place to live.  The new government has committed itself to a big expansion of student housing, but years of promises by state, regional and student-support authorities have not been fulfilled and there is a severe lack of places in university residences. Especially in Paris it is tough, since it is a very attractive spot for tourists and foreigners.

Just 8% of students can benefit from housing provided by the state agency responsible for student accommodation, the national student support centre CNOUS and its regional centres, the CROUS.  During a visit in August to a new Paris CROUS student residence, Higher Education and Research Minister Geneviève Fioraso spelled out the measures the new government was taking on student housing.

Some good addresses to find a student place

Of the 2.2 million young people enrolled in French higher education it is estimated that 700,000 are living with their parents, 165,000 have places in CROUS university residences and 315,000 stay in privately run residences. The rest must look for a home in the private rental sector, where bedsits are often small and rundown and rents high. Students’ organisation FAGE calculates that housing costs represent more than 45% of students’ budgets.

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Many students desperately seeking a suitable place resort to operators who, according to consumer organisation UFC-Que Choisir in a report published this week, are illegally selling lists of addresses supposedly available to let. Following its inquiry carried out in Paris and 10 other university towns, UFC-Que Choisir has filed complaints against 13 agencies, alleging bad practice.

Alleged offences include operators charging for the lists in advance; giving addresses no longer available for letting; and masking their true activity – simply selling the lists – so customers thought they were genuine estate agents. The agencies charged about €200, and up to €450 in Paris, without the student having any guarantee of successfully finding a rental, said UFC-Que Choisir. They carried out no individualised research service, with the lists largely consisting of addresses taken from local newspapers and giving only vague details of the properties. So better try to make your own way via the addresses that we provide.