Information for Owners

 

What is a long-term let? Leases.
What is the market for long-term lets? Property Insurance.
Is my property suitable for a long-term let? Tax on rental income.
How to advertise and obtain your long-term lets. Registering your rental property with your Mairie.
What price can I charge per month? References.
How do I charge for utilities and extras? Information for the tenant.
How to receive payment. French letters - using French characters.
Beware of Scams. Key to Icons used in the advert summary boxes.
The practicalities. In summary.
Information for owners
 

What is a long-term let?

We are using the phrase ‘long-term let’ here to mean any let extending to one month or more. This distinguishes this type of let from standard holiday rentals normally lasting one, two or three weeks.

What is the market for long-term lets?

The market for long lets in France is healthy and, in our experience, continues to grow year on year. Many of these lets are for periods of up to six months, with 2 to 3 months arguably being the most popular. House hunters make up the majority of people looking to rent for a longer period and many like to check out different areas and so can stay in several properties. The demand also comes from people taking sabbaticals and retirees etc. These lets are generally off-season as the cost of renting for a month or more in the summer can be prohibitive. Longer lets of a year or more are also possible. These are generally sought by people waiting for their houses to be built, those on contracts, study courses, extended sabbaticals and, of course, by the house hunters.

We see enquiries coming in from people worldwide looking to take on a longer rental in France, many of these are property hunters who help fuel the demand for long lets. ‘Rent before you buy’ really does make sense if you can afford the time. Conversely, it has also helped in the supply of properties available for long lets. As more and more foreign buyers purchase property in France with the intention of running a gîte or two, the competition has increased in the standard holiday rental market. These more difficult conditions are encouraging many owners to advertise their properties for long winter lets as a means of maximising their earning potential. Many property owners prefer the higher weekly revenues potentially available during summer, but many now also welcome extra off-season income with the bonus that their property is being occupied and heated. Some of our advertisers have opted to offer monthly lets only as this can reduce the work involved with weekly changeovers. If the rental property is the owner's holiday home, running monthly lets can help reserve larger periods of time for private use in the summer.

Is my property suitable for a long-term let?

As stated above, most long-lets are winter lets. It is therefore essential that your property is adequately heated and has suitable bedding with winter duvets if necessary. Remember one person’s idea of a mild day or night is not necessarily the next person’s. Even the south of France can experience extremely cold weather. Make your tenant aware of the temperatures he is likely to expect.

If your property has stone or wood floors perhaps some rugs would be an idea. Is there suitable lighting for reading during those longer evenings?

How to advertise and obtain your long-term lets

Advertise your property with 'Rent a place in France'. Long lets are a specialist market; you need a specialist company that deals exclusively with long lets in France. We have full property details on our website including photographs, types of heating systems, prices per month, minimum rental periods, whether storage facilities are available, links to owners’ websites, availability, property location and direct contact details etc.  Much information tailored to the long letting market is here.

It is obviously preferable that the prospective tenant visits the property first to ensure it will meet his/her needs, and this also gives you the opportunity to assess whether the tenant is suitable. This is particularly important for longer lets of a year or so.

What price can I charge per month?

Whatever the market can stand in your area - it is not an exact science. How many months is your property going to be let for? A discount of 25 -30% over standard low season weekly prices would be in the ballpark for a let of up to 3 months outwith the cities. Longer lets may warrant a slightly higher discount. There is generally room for a little negotiation with the tenant, particularly with longer lets.

Some owners set a higher price and are content to receive fewer but more lucrative bookings, others set a more competitive one preferring to have their property occupied more often. Stating your price as being ‘From X per month’ can be worthwhile in that it offers you flexibility while advertising your most attractive price. For city properties it may be best to check the classified ads in local papers (‘Les Petites Annonces’) to gauge the rental prices that properties command in your area. Have a browse on our site to see what similar properties are charging.

How do I charge for utilities and extras?

A decision needs to be made on how to charge for services such as electricity, gas, telephone, water etc. The simplest solution is to charge the tenant at cost for all the services and other additional expenses such as logs, linen etc, with the water perhaps being included in the monthly rental price.

Utilities usage can be monitored and billed proportionally using appropriate measuring devices, including Gas Meters, Water Meters, Oil Meters and Heat Energy meters.

It needs to be clearly stated at the outset what is included in the price of the rental and what is chargeable as an extra. It is better to put in writing e.g. by e-mail, the costs per unit of electricity, litre of oil, how much the logs cost, price for gas cylinders and unit costs for telephone. Also let the tenant know if he is to be liable for standing charges such as the telephone. If the tenant is appraised of these costs before entering into an agreement, there will be little room for confusion or misunderstandings when it comes to paying the bills.

For longer lets of a year or so it may be prudent to transfer all the utility bills into the tenant’s name; this could also include the local residential tax (‘taxe d’habitation’). Real estate tax (‘taxe foncière’) is payable by the owner of the property.

The visitor’s tax (‘taxe de séjour’) is set at a local level by town councils (conseil municipal) and can vary from between a few Centimes to over one Euro per person per night depending on your locality and time of year. Check with your local Mairie to see if or when this tax applies in your commune and the amount payable. If the amount is negligible it may be better to include this in the monthly rental.

How to receive payment

Asking for a deposit up front is definitely advisable; this will reserve the period for the tenant and can also act as pre-payment for utilities. Bear in mind that clients outwith the Euro-zone (such as the UK) are unlikely to have Euro bank accounts, so a Sterling cheque as deposit would need to be acceptable. Also, ask for the first month’s rental to be paid on arrival and subsequent months to be paid at the start of each month. It may also be prudent to take a deposit on arrival to cover damages. This could be returned to the tenant at the end of the let if all was well. What currency do you want paid in? Euros or Sterling? Are you happy to receive a cheque or cash, or do you take credit cards? Make all this clear from the outset.

Beware of Scams.

Please exercise caution when responding to enquiries. We monitor all email enquiries that are sent through our site and advise relevant advertisers if we see anything suspicious. Some things to watch out for are inaccurate dates and details of your property, too much emphasis placed on the financial side, extremely poor use of English and requests for personal information.

Please be aware of the following scam, the 'Nigerian Money Transfer Fraud', that is being targeted at some property owners.

With this fraud the scammer will appear keen to rent your property and send you an apparent overpayment. He will then ask for a REFUND of the supposed overpayment. The scammer's payment is fraudulent and he then disappears with your refunded money.

IMPORTANT: Be aware that it can sometimes take a bank a couple of weeks to identify a fraudulent payment. The monies may even initially appear credited to your account only to be reversed when the fraud is detected. So, the golden rule is - never refund a supposed overpayment prior to a rental unless the funds have been cleared and you (and your bank) are 100% certain that it is genuine.

We have more details on scams in our member's home area.

The practicalities.

Take a reading of all utilities and agree these with the tenant on day one. If you have oil central heating it may be necessary to mark your tank, again in the presence of the tenant. These can then all be checked on the last day, or the end of each month, and the total calculated. The telephone charges will appear on your itemised bill, so an element of trust would be required as one bill is likely to arrive after the tenants depart. Alternatively, it is possible to check your current call usage online with France Télécom or other provider. Otherwise a larger deposit could help or limit your telephone to local calls only.

Signing up to an unlimited access agreement, dial up or broadband if available, with an ISP such as Orange or Tiscali can keep a lid on Internet access charges. This cost can then be passed on to the tenant in full.

Always ensure your kitchen and bathroom have some basic essentials for the tenant’s arrival, e.g. rubbish bags, matches, toilet rolls, cleaning materials and staples such as sugar, salt & pepper etc. An 'intro' bottle of wine generally goes down well!

Leases.

There is an important distinction made in France between renting furnished as opposed to unfurnished accommodation. Unfurnished lets can afford the tenant greater protection and the lease would normally be for a minimum of three years. Here a standard contract applies - ‘Contrat de Location Non-Meublé’.

We will, however, concern ourselves here with furnished lets only, as these make up the properties that we market in the main and that our clients are looking to rent. 

French law has changed for some furnished leases. Previously, there was no legal requirement to use a lease for a furnished rental and it was possible to agree any duration. As from January 20th 2005, except for holiday lets, a contract of at least one year is legally required if renting furnished property to a tenant who owns no other property or has no other tenancy agreement as his main residence. If the tenant has other accommodation as his main residence then there is still no legal requirement for a lease and a lease, if used, can be of any duration. The parties are free to agree their own terms and contracts can vary. The problem lies where the tenant is effectively of no fixed abode, perhaps when the tenant has sold his home in the UK or elsewhere, and the French rental property will be his main residence for a time.

This new law raises the following issues:
1) If a one-year lease is legally required, how do you amend its duration so both tenant and owner are happy signing it?
Many furnished rentals are for periods of considerably less than one year and rentals of several months are common. In these cases both owner and tenant are unlikely to feel happy signing a one-year lease. It is true the tenant can end the rental by giving one month's notice, but many will still feel uncomfortable signing a one-year lease for perhaps a four-month rental. To help resolve this, Rent a place in France have had 'Termination of lease' forms professionally drawn up by a French Notaire. These will in effect be the tenant's written notice. The notice would be signed by the tenant several days after signing the lease. By signing a notice to quit at the outset for a given date, say four months from date of entry, the one-year lease is effectively transformed into a four month lease. Both tenant and owner know where they stand, and the owner is then free to take on further lets after the notice period ends.

2) If a lease is not required or desired, how best legally to avoid using a one-year lease if the prospective tenant does own other property eg still maintains a house in the UK or elsewhere as his main residence?
The owner needs to satisfy himself that the rental will not constitute the tenant's main residence. To more easily effect this, Rent a place in France have had 'Tenant's declaration of principal residence' forms drawn up. We can supply these to owners who merely have to get the tenant to enter their details, and sign and date them prior to the let. We understand this signed form would relieve the owner of any legal requirement to use the new-style lease for that rental.

Both the above mentioned blank forms are now available from ourselves. We can supply these free of charge to all paid up current advertisers on our site.

From our experience it would seem that, where there is no legal requirement, most owners do not use leases for lets of a month or two. Given that the prospective tenant has his main residence elsewhere, the decision of whether to use a lease or not is entirely dependent on the owner’s attitude, type of property (full of valuable antiques or modestly furnished) and length of tenancy. It is, however, advisable to use a lease, especially for longer lets and if the utilities and local taxes are to be transferred into the tenant’s name.

The cost of drawing up a lease can be split 50/50 between owner and tenant. If it is decided to use a lease, then the tenant should be advised and informed of any charges from the outset.

A contract for renting furnished property in France should be accompanied by an ‘Etat des Lieux’, detailing the type of property, its location and furnishings etc. In addition an inventory should be attached and signed on exchange of keys. This need not go into enormous detail covering every last toothpick, but concern itself with items of value.

We do not supply rental contracts but your local Immobilier or Notaire should be able to draw up lease agreements for a charge, or blank forms can be purchased and then completed and signed by both parties. One French website that supplies these blank contracts is - De Particulier à Particulier

Property Insurance

One insurance provider that specialises in providing comprehensive and flexible cover, against all eventualities, for holiday homes in France is Intasure.

Their policies can offer cover whether your home is occupied or unoccupied or let short or long term.

Every policy is underwritten by Lloyds of London and offers a host of benefits, but one of the key advantages is the UK-based English speaking team that resolves any problems that may arise. In addition, all policy documentation is written in English - so you know exactly what you are getting.

You can request a quote online. Intasure - insurance that speaks your language

Tax on rental income.

Letting furnished accommodation in France is governed by civil law from a legal standpoint, but for tax purposes it is regarded as a commercial enterprise. Therefore all rental income should be declared to the French tax authorities. Professional advice should be sought as to what expenses are deductible.

Registering your rental property with your Mairie.

A law passed in 2009 requires all existing and new owners of furnished holiday lets to register their business with their Mairie. The two page form can be downloaded here: Déclaration en mairie de location d’un meublé de tourisme

References.

You may want to ask a prospective tenant for references from his bank or employer etc.

Information for the tenant.

A comprehensive folder in the property containing information on the area, local markets, eating houses etc is, as with standard holiday rentals, obviously good to have available but bear in mind that people taking on long lets may probably have different objectives as well as being there off-season. Ideally, a folder for long lets could include details of short language courses nearby, property search agents, Immobiliers that speak English etc.

Always ensure that a contact number for emergencies and general queries is left with the tenant for everyone’s peace of mind.

French Letters.

Do try to include the correct French characters in your copy when naming places etc. Windows users - to access the characters such as â, ï etc consult the table below, hold down the Alt key on your keyboard and type in the number of the required character with the numeric keypad, release the Alt key and the French character will appear eg Alt 131 produces â.

 

â Alt 131 Â Alt 0194 à Alt 133 À Alt 0192 æ Alt 145 Æ Alt 146
ç Alt 135 Ç Alt 128 é Alt 130 É Alt 144 è Alt 138 È Alt 0200
ê Alt 136 Ê Alt 0202 ë Alt 137 Ë Alt 0203 î Alt 140 Î Alt 0206
ï Alt 139 Ï Alt 0207 ô Alt 147 Ô Alt 0212 œ Alt 0156 Œ Alt 0140
û Alt 150 Û Alt 0219 ù Alt 151 Ù Alt 0217 ü Alt 129 Ü Alt 154
ÿ Alt 0255 Ÿ Alt 0159 « Alt 174 » Alt 175 Alt 0128    

  

Key to Icons used in the property advert summary boxes.

We use the following 12 icons on the property summary boxes that appear on search result pages. The icons are used only as a guide. The broadband icon, for example, can represent that broadband internet access is currently installed and available for all rentals or that broadband internet access is possible and can be installed on request - this may be dependent on a rental confirmation of a certain minimum period. Full details, can of course, be shown on your full page advert. If you are uncertain if a particular icon applies to your property, please Contact us.

Wood-burning stove or open fire Open fire or wood burning stove Central heating Central heating
Children welcome Children welcome No smoking No smoking
Pets may be allowed by prior agreement Pets allowed Telephone Telephone
Broadband Broadband internet access is available Property is available year round for longer lets Available all year round for longer rentals
Property is unfurnished Unfurnished property Suitable storage facilities are available for furniture etc Storage facilities are available
Suitable for horses Suitable for horses Suitable for those with limited mobility Disabled facilities

 

 

In summary.

In order to maximise your scope in obtaining good long-term lets, please bear in mind the following:

 Specialist, effective and quality advertising dedicated exclusively to promoting your property for long-term lets in France, giving comprehensive details of your property, its availability and location, along with photographs.

 Correct pricing taking into account your local market, length of let and time of year.

 Clear information from the outset, as to what the tenant will have to pay for and when.

 A property suitably equipped to cater for longer rentals.

 Good availability.

 

More information is available in our member's home area.

 

Disclaimer:
All advice and information given on this Site are given in good faith. Please note that while we have taken all reasonable measures to ensure accuracy of information on the Site, we are not legal professionals. Rent a place in France cannot be held liable for any special, incidental, or consequential damages, including without limitation, lost revenues, lost profits or goodwill resulting from the use or misuse of the information contained on the Site. We do advise all users to seek suitable professional advice as required eg from a French Notaire before entering into any rental contract.
Please be aware of our full Terms of Use.

 



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