Information for Tenants
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.
Once you have decided where in France you would like to rent long-term, the next decision is for how long and when. Most people renting for periods of one month or more will be doing so off-season as prices can often be more affordable. For off-season lets you must ensure the property is suitably equipped for use in the colder months of the year. Are there adequate heating systems in place? Does it have a wood-burning stove? What, if any, linen is provided and is it sufficient? Is there decent lighting for those longer winter evenings? Do you need broadband internet access? Do you prefer to have English language satellite television?
Give careful consideration to the location of the property. An ideal gîte for a two-week summer holiday, complete with swimming pool in an isolated spot, may not be the best choice for a 3 month mid-winter let when the pool is out of action and you are looking to integrate into the local community. The objectives in renting for longer periods are generally different from those of a standard two week holiday. What are your objectives? To learn French, find a property to purchase, explore an area, try out the French lifestyle?
Many French towns and villages are quite different once the tourists have left at the end of summer. This though, can be an excellent time to take on a longer let as rental prices are cheaper and fewer people are house hunting. If you like it in winter chances are you’ll love it in summer.
What sort of support are the owners able to offer during your stay? Do they stay on site, do they speak English or French, will they respect your privacy? Are they able to assist, offer advice on property search, renovation, the local area, French bureaucracy etc?
There can sometimes be a little room for negotiation particularly for longer lets. A few owners may consider an additional discount in return for certain work being carried out on their property, perhaps some decorating or garden maintenance.
Ensure you are fully advised as to what exactly is included in your monthly rental and what is payable as an extra. It is better to have this in writing e.g. by e-mail. This will help you budget for your stay and should also help avoid any misunderstandings when it comes to paying the bill. What deposit is required and when? Is a cheque required for damages? How and when are utilities charged, the end of each month or the end of your stay? What extras do you need to pay for: logs, linen, gas cylinders? Are local taxes included?
The owner may ask you for references. This is probably more common for longer lets of 6 months plus. An employer and your bank should hopefully be able to provide these on request.
This 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.
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 - a standard holiday booking form normally suffices. It is, however, advisable to use a lease for longer lets and especially 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.How to leave your home.
If you are planning on being away for several months it may be worth considering renting out your own home depending on where you stay and the time of year. This could possibly cover your monthly rent in France; you may even make a profit. Bear in mind however, that you will need your mortgage lender’s approval (if applicable), appropriate insurance and an allowance for wear and tear. There will also be a loss of flexibility in that if you decide to return early, you may have no home available. The option of trying to rent out your home for shorter periods could actually end up costing you money, as many agencies have a charge for site visits and advertising etc and if your property does not let, you are left with the bill.
Contact the postal service and have your mail either held until your return, forwarded to France or to a family member or friend.
If you are leaving your home in winter, make sure that you turn off the water mains and keep your heating on a low setting if necessary to help prevent any problems. Check with your heating engineer for advice if unsure what is best for your system.
Remember to advise the police and neighbours of your intentions. A few internal lights operated by timers are certainly worthwhile as a deterrent to burglars. Try to get a friend or neighbour to keep his or her eye on the property and leave a key with someone. Ensure the key holder has your contact details in the event of an emergency.
Advise your home insurers that you will be away and the property will be unoccupied. Many Insurers may cover your home only for a maximum of 30 consecutive days if it is unoccupied. One possible way around this is to ask someone trustworthy to stay in the house overnight before the insurance window closes and this will reset the clock. Ask them to make a phone call from the property on both days so that their presence is registered and you can prove to the insurers that the property was occupied at that time. Double check with your insurers that this is acceptable to them before you leave.
Remember that you may still be liable for property taxes and charges even when your home is unoccupied.
Try to ensure as many as possible of your bills are set up for direct debit and you have enough funds in your current account to cover these when you are away or funds in a deposit account which can be easily transferred as required. One of the easiest ways to access funds in France is through one of the many ATM’s or ‘hole in the walls’. Use your bank debit card not your credit card as these may attract interest from day one for cash withdrawals. Internet banking can be very useful. It's also possible to set up a French bank account before you arrive in France.
The electrical plug connection is different in France from many other countries and you may need an adaptor to convert any appliances you bring with you, such as a laptop computer. These can be obtained from most electrical stores.
If using a non-French mobile check the tariffs from your supplier before you leave home to avoid any nasty surprises. When dialling a French number from such a mobile phone it is necessary to use the international code for France even when in France.
Broadband internet access is widely available in France even in rural locations. If you have brought your own internet device with you, all you will need are electrical adaptors and a surge protector (to protect from electrical surges e.g. storms). Many properties offer WiFi access. If not, you could always consider using your mobile phone as WiFi hub.Smoke Alarms.
All French properties should now have smoke alarms installed.Route planners.
Via Michelin is an especially good route planner on the Internet. It provides details of toll roads and their charges, total distance, time required and links to hotels en route. Much of this information can also be found on a GPS navigation system. Having a good up to date spiral bound French road atlas is also useful if your GPS decides that enough is enough.
The cost of travel insurance can vary tremendously and it is well worth shopping around. Some insurance companies offer competitive travel insurance in Europe for longer periods. Bear in mind that your house insurance may cover you for personal belongings abroad. This can reduce the cost of your travel insurance - there’s little point paying twice for the same thing, so check with your home insurance.
If you are on prescription medication, try and bring enough with you for your stay but bear in mind that some medicines have limited shelf life. Alternatively, these should generally be available through local doctors in France.
The following 12 icons display on the property summary boxes on search results pages. The icons are to be 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. Move your mouse over the icons for a description and visit the full page advert for more details. Always contact the owner direct for further information and to ensure that your required service or facility will be available.
|Open fire or wood burning stove||Central heating|
|Children welcome||No smoking|
|Broadband internet access is available||Available all year round for longer rentals|
|Unfurnished property||Storage facilities are available|
|Suitable for horses||Suitable for those with limited mobility|
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.
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