Commercial leases “bail commercial” are intended to organise the occupation of a commercial premises (a shop, a factory, a restaurant).
They must not be confused with professional leases “bail professionnel” for an activity that is not considered as “commercial” under French law but “professional” (such as medical or legal activities).
Neither must they be confused with a housing tenure “bail d’habitation”.
Because French laws on commercial leases were initially conceived to protect tenants, the minimum mandatory duration of a lease vary depending if you are an owner or a tenant.
Unless exceptional circumstances, such as breach of contract by the tenant (for non payment of rent for instance), owners cannot terminate the lease during a 9 year period, from the date when the lease became effective.
On the other hand tenants can terminate lease every 3 years.
For example, if a lease is signed on 05 June 2013, the owner will have to wait until 05 June 2022 to terminate lease. On the other hand, the tenant could terminate the lease on 05 June 2016 or 05 June 2019 or 05 June 2022.
Nevertheless, in some circumstances the legislator has considered that it was necessary to protect the owner because the tenant was in a more powerful position.
A recent law (Loi N°2009-888 22-07-2009) has been enacted by French Parliament to protect owners of apartments in Tourist Residences.
It stipulates that when a commercial lease is signed with the operator of a Tourist Residence “Residence de Tourisme” the minimum mandatory duration of a commercial lease will be nine year for both the owner and the tenant.
This rule only applies to leases signed after enforcement of the law.
The termination of lease is not automatic. At the end of the stipulated period a notice must be served by bailiff “huissier de justice” on the other party and in some circumstances an eviction penalty can be due.
This question will be developed in a next poste.
In any case when faced with such a situation, it is advisable to seek the advice of a lawyer.