Long lets - Overview of an evolving market
Long lets - Overview of an evolving market
How long is a long term let? Some classify a long let as lasting several years, these are often unfurnished. Others treat long term to mean several months, more often furnished. Short term lets could be several weeks or months, maybe even a year or two, but what about medium term? Does this term exist? Sometimes a long let can be terminated early by the tenant or landlord and, of course, sometimes it can be extended. The former scenario could transform a long let into something rather less than long, perhaps even a short term or medium term let (if that is possible) and the latter into a longer long let. The longest long let possible is permanent. The shortest long let possible is unknown.
Confused? For our purposes we classify any rental lasting one month or more as being a long let to differentiate from the standard weekly holiday rentals.
The long letting market in France has evolved quite a bit since our involvement began in 2004. Many of our client properties are cherished second homes that have been very tastefully renovated after much time and money has been accorded them. Often these properties are intended as the eventual retirement home for the owner, but in the meantime they can be rented out to earn their keep.
There are a couple of points to bear in mind when deciding whether or not to rent out your second home in France: flexibility and rental income. A combination of bringing in some rental income while retaining the ability to holiday in the property yourself is popular with many owners. This can be achieved with a combination of weekly summer holiday rentals and monthly off-season rentals. Periods can then be pre-booked for the owner's exclusive use. Alternatively, offering monthly rentals year round can avoid the hassle of weekly changeovers and yet retain the ability to reserve periods for your own use. These rentals are, of course, furnished. In France unfurnished rentals tend to be less flexible and normally run for three years.
Times have changed too for those prospective tenants looking for a longer rental. Such tenants can be more selective and demanding and are less likely to put up with sub-standard accommodation, their requirements tend to be higher. After all, staying in a property for several months as opposed to a couple of weeks requires that the property be viewed more as a home from home with all the comforts one would expect.
To help meet the increasing demands of tenants we have introduced a full suite of comprehensive search facilities. Rental property can now be searched by a wide range of criteria such as property type, location, price, number of bedrooms, storage facilities, pets etc. There is also a popular geo search to show properties within a certain distance from a particular place or post code.
Broadband internet access is now seen increasingly as a 'must have'. Most parts of France now have access to broadband, even remote rural areas can now be covered with a form of community wifi (Wimax). If no communal internet access exists individual houses can opt for a satellite connection which has become much more affordable recently. Back in 2004 when we began in business many had to make do with dial-up internet. From the owner's point of view, the internet connection can always be arranged if required depending on the rental but it is important to state in any publicity that at least there is the possibility to install a connection. Having a capped monthly subscription to include telephone calls can also be worthwhile and this could be included in the rental charge. The internet has now grown to be an immensely useful tool and can be particularly relevant for those taking on a long rental in France. It can, for instance, be invaluable for keeping in contact with friends and family back home via email or Skype, and of course it enables us to continue the search for that very elusive dream home.
Initially we found the majority of our clients came from the UK but over the last few years we have seen a large increase in enquiries coming from other countries. For example in May 2011 we received enquiries from the following locations, (in descending order of volume of enquiries received): UK, USA, France, Australia, Ireland, Canada, Sweden, South Africa, Spain, Denmark, Cyprus, Holland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Portugal, Finland, Mexico, Greece, Bermuda, Tanzania, Qatar.
The long letting market in France has matured with internet-savvy tenants sending enquiries from around the world, many being quite specific in their requests. Happily, many more quality properties are now also being advertised for monthly rentals. And lastly, our site upgraded and modernised to satisfy both landlord and tenants demand. This all adds up to a healthy long letting market despite the current worldwide financial instability. So there you have it, long term lets, the long and short of it.
(Published July/August 2011)