Renting out your French holiday home
Renting out your French holiday home
If your French holiday home is lying empty for months at a time, why not rent it out on a long-term basis? The good news is that there's a strong demand for furnished lets of one month or more in many areas of France.
Many owners choose a combination of monthly winter lets from October to May and standard holiday rentals during the summer. This helps to maximise income and ensures their property is working for them year round. Good demand also exists for year round rentals.
Ideally, have your prospective tenant view the property before booking. This also gives you the opportunity to meet them and is particularly important for longer lets. Some tenants like to dip their toe in by renting for one or two weeks before committing to a longer stay.
France can experience some very cold weather so ensure your property is suitably equipped with adequate heating and bedding. An open fire or wood-burning stove are popular for winter lets.
Good communications are also very important and can be essential requirements for the likes of tele-workers. So it is worth considering installing a telephone and internet access - ADSL (broadband). Almost all areas of France now have broadband coverage even if it's by satellite.
To cap expenditure sign up for an unlimited package with internet access and telephone calls. The tenant can then pay the monthly premium and both owner and tenant know where they stand.
Offering storage facilities in a secure barn or garage can be very attractive to house hunters moving to France.
A surprising number of people looking for longer lets have pets or horses. If you are prepared to accept a dog or cat or have stabling and grazing land then you can easily broaden your market.
How to advertise?
The internet is an excellent medium and can be highly effective and affordable. Good photos are essential for a successful advert so take your time to get them right. It may pay to employ a professional but make sure he or she comes on a sunny day! Give thought also to your text. Sing your praises but be truthful.
A personal website can be useful in backing up any other advertising. Try to include some entries from your in-house visitor's book. The best ambassadors for your property are previous satisfied tenants.
Ensure you advise your home insurers if you are renting your property out long-term. Some standard policies limit the permitted length of stay. Generally this can be extended if the insurer is contacted in advance.
How to charge - and how much?
A security/damage deposit should be requested in advance. This can be returned at the end of the rental if all is well. Remember that an uncashed cheque can be cancelled by the payee.
Ensure a sufficient deposit is paid to help cover for any last minute cancellation. This is particularly important for longer lets that run over the peak summer season. A four month rental from June to September cancelled late May is going to leave you with little chance of recouping that lost revenue.
It is generally good practice to ensure that the tenant is never in debt to you. Monthly rentals can be paid in advance and utility bills monthly and certainly prior to departure. Some utility bills can now be consulted online so there is no need to wait for a postal invoice before charging the tenant.
Make it clear from the outset what has to be paid for and when and the potential for misunderstandings is reduced. The tenant will appreciate being given a budget cost for heating and utilities. Logs can be paid for in advance with any unused being refunded at the end of the stay.
Note the levels of the various utility counters such as electricity and gas on day one with your tenant present. If you have oil fired central heating you may need to mark the tank to calculate usage.
Setting a 'correct' price can be difficult initially. Have a browse on our site to gauge what other similar properties are charging. Try to put forward your most attractive price, e.g. if you are prepared to accept £x per month for a 6 month rental then put 'From £x pm'. Remember the price can always be reviewed depending on the number of enquires received.
If you rent a furnished property to someone who has no other property as their main residence then a one year lease is legally required. A notice to quit can, however, be drawn up several days after the contract. This can effectively reduce the one year lease to the required length.
If the tenant has a main residence elsewhere then a lease is not legally required and a contract - if used - can be of any duration. It is always advisable to have something in writing to protect the interests of both parties. Lease forms can be downloaded from www.pap.fr or purchased from legal stationers in France. Notaires can also draw up leases and offer advice as required.
Last but not least, it's advisable to request references from your tenant.
(Published May/June 2012)