CAF Housing Assistance in France – Simple Guide in English

Are you hoping to apply to the French government’s housing assistance but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place!

Ah! You have arrived in France, maybe on your Erasmus, maybe as an Intern, or maybe you have found a great job. You have found a lovely apartment and are beginning to settle into the new expat life – what could go wrong? French Administration. That’s what. 

The purpose of this article is to enlighten travelers for job, study, medical or other reasons on how to better understand property benefits and eligibility in France. As a tenant in France, you may want to apply for the « Caisses d’allocations familiales/ CAF ». Here is a guide that will hopefully help you to fill out the online form and secure this aid for your accommodation. 

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First of all – what is APL, or CAF allowance?

Personalized housing assistance (APL) is housing assistance provided by the French government to help tenants pay their rent each month. The CAF (Caisse d’allocations familiales – or the ‘family allowance fund’) is the government body who deals with organising your file. 

The CAF also pays family benefits:

  • to employees and comparable categories in all professions;
  • to non-agricultural self-employed workers, and
  • to all residents of France with children even if they are not employed.

Who is eligible for this assistance? 

Any person of any nationality is eligible to apply for CAF in France. You will be eligible for the CAF if you are living in an apartment, a furnished rental, a studio or a flat share, in France, and if you are paying rent. You will need to be at least 18 years of age, you cannot be related to the landlord and the rental agreement must be in your own name. You will need to open a bank account in France. You do not need to have a Social Security Number (SSN) to obtain this aid. 

How much will you receive? Do the simulation on the CAF website. 

Before you begin your online application, even before moving into your apartment, you can estimate the amount of your housing aid entitlement. To do this, go to the CAF website (caf.fr), click into the section « Mes services en ligne » (Online services) and then in the section « Faire une simulation » (Do a simulation). You can also do this here by clicking on the button « Aide au logement »

The amount of the financial aid will vary from person to person, depending entirely on your personal situation (income level, existing benefits, rent amount etc). If you are living in a studio apartment, you can earn as much as €200 euros a month. If you are living in a shared flat, you can earn as much as €180 a month. 

Ready to apply? Ensure you have everything you need. 

It all seems a bit overwhelming at this point, but don’t panic! Here is a quick check-list: 

To do the simulation, you will need: 

  1. Your housing agreement/contract of the apartment you’re renting.
  2. Your bank account information slip (Relevé d’identité bancaire: RIB); (*Note: It must be a French bank account)
  3. The amount of your financial resources of the previous year.
  4. Your national ID or your Passport and your Birth Certificate (they may ask for your birth certificate to be translated to French, although this is not obligatory in some cases).
  5. For EU citizens, you will need proof of school enrollment and a copy of your EHIC card (If applicable).
  6. For non-EU citizens, you will just need a valid residency permit.

How to apply to the CAF Housing Assistance :

  1. Click on the button « Faire une demande de prestation » (Apply for a benefit) under « Mes services en ligne » on the CAF website (www.caf.fr). 
  2. If you don’t already have a file with the CAF, choose « Vous n’êtes pas allocataire » (You are not a beneficiary). 
  3. Click on « Aides au logement » (Housing aid). 
  4. Click on « Faire la demande » (Submit an application). In order to do this, you will need to either have an account on their website, or create one (which only takes about 10 minutes). You will need to specify your « Etat civil » and your contact information, enter your phone number to receive a verification code, and then choose a password. You will then have a client portal. 

Complete the steps 

Step 1 : Eligibility criteria (« Conditions d’accès »)


Fill in this information about your apartment. 

Helpful tips for this section:

  • Under « Situation Familiale », if you are sharing your flat, enter ‘0’ for the final question. 
  • Entering your home address: you can use apostrophes and accents. Make sure to specify your building and unit numbers (including the name on your post box). 
  • Entering your banking information: your BIC and IBAN numbers and the name of your bank (« Domiciliation bancaire ») are required.
  • Entering your financial resources:
    • Report all of your income for the relevant year. If you have zero income, check the zero income box (« Aucun revenu »).
  • Don’t report any Erasmus scholarships or social grants, they are not considered as income.
  • If you are renting accomodation from a company, make sure to get their Siret number if it doesn’t appear on your rental agreement (this is the company’s 14-figure identification number).

Step 2 : Accept the terms and conditions (« Engagement »)

Step 3 : Enter your information (« Saisie »)

  • Fill in the information about your circumstances and your accommodation.
  • Make sure to fill in your cell phone number so that you can get your password as soon as your application is complete.

TIP: You can save your application and go back to it later.

You will get an email with the number under which your application has been saved.

Step 4 : Finalize your application (« Fin »)

  • Confirm and submit your application.
  • Submit any required documentary evidence.

When will I receive my payment? Will I be back-dated?

Sit tight, the CAF are on it! Due to high demand, the application may take several weeks/months to be fully processed. However, you will be entitled to French housing benefits starting the month after you move in, and your first payment two months after that. In the meantime, you can download the CAF application on the App Store, log in with your « Numéro Allocataire  » and check regularly to see if there are updates. 

How to contact the CAF

If you would like to go into a CAF office and speak to a member of their team, you can have a look for your closest branch here. You will need to make an appointment. To do this, you can click on the link mentioned, and then on ‘Rendez-vous’. You can also call the phone number 3230. 

And finally, stay calm! They are here to help you. It will require patience, but you will get there in the end!

Glossary

Need to brush up on your vocabulary before applying for the CAF? Here is some of the key terms that you will need to know for your application.

Locataire – Tenant

Colocataire – Roommate/Flatmate

Colocation – Flatshare

Allocataire – Beneficiary

Numéro Allocataire – Beneficiary number

Prestation – Service

Location – Rental

Sous-location – Sub-rental

Bailleur – Landlord

Propriétaire – Landlord 

Allocation logement – Housing benefits

Contrat – Contract

Logement – Accommodation

Etat civil – Civil Status 

Etudiant – Student 

Saisie – Input 

Domiciliation bancaire – Name of your bank

Rent – loyer

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