If you own a property in France that sits empty for long periods of the year, you could make a significant second income by letting it out on a seasonal basis. This allows you to make money from your French home while keeping it free for your own use at certain times of the year. However, before you take the plunge for the first time, it's important to be aware that there are some key differences between long-term lets and holiday lets.
What is a holiday let?
Thousands of British people and other foreign nationals with homes in France rent them out to tenants without too much hassle or red tape. If you still want to spend some time in your own home at some point in the year, renting it seasonally is perfect. That way, you will be able to make some money while retaining the ability to stay there yourself. A holiday let is usually classified as a rental agreement that lasts for less than three months. Rather than being a tenant's home, a holiday let is regarded as accommodation in the same way as a hotel would be.
You will notice that there are three terms used to describe holiday lets in France:
- 'Location de vacances' - a holiday let
- 'Location saisonnière' - a seasonal let
- 'Meublé de tourisme' - furnished tourist let
What you can realistically expect to charge for your letting will depend on a range of issues, including your home's location, its size and the amenities it offers. You may also be able to charge a premium if your home is located in an area that is in high demand amongst tourists.
Listing a meublé de tourisme
Most property owners in France who want to let their home to holidaymakers will do so under the rules associated with a meublé de tourisme. The chances are that if you live in your home at any point in the year, it will already be furnished and equipped for modern living, so it makes sense to capitalise on this. Taking this route will help you to stay within the rules, and it's often the most cost-effective way of finding tenants.
You should list your home with the local tourist office or mairie, as this will allow you to take advantage of expert help and advice. You will need to make your home available for inspection however, and it will be awarded a star rating of one to five - providing prospective tenants with an indication of your home's state of repair and the amenities it offers.
Your property will then usually be listed as a holiday let on a website, in the local office and in the local press. You'll be charged an annual fee for your listing (usually around EUR100), and you'll also have to pay a nominal fee for subsequent inspections by the tourist office. These inspections are carried out every five years or so. If this is your first time listing a home as a holiday let, using the local tourist office makes the whole process a great deal smoother, as you'll be given practical help with the legal and administrative processes involved, including the drawing up of a contract.
Other ways to advertise your holiday listing
If you want to rid yourself of all the legal and administrative duties that go hand in hand with a holiday let, you can put yours in the hands of a local agency. You will need to sacrifice between 20 and 30 percent of your rental income, but that could be a price worth paying if it gives you peace of mind. However, it's important to check that the agency you choose has official accreditation from a governmental body. The 'qualité tourisme' logo signifies that an agency has demonstrated its commitment to providing excellent customer service and upholding local property laws. There are also some excellent web-based listing sites available, which allow you to advertise your short-term letting for a fixed price.
Make sure everything is planned in advance
In order to ensure that your holiday let runs smoothly, it's always a good idea to plan every aspect in advance. An agency or the local tourist office will help you to make sure that nothing is forgotten.
- Inform the local mairie that your home will be let on a short-term basis
- Arrange insurance cover for your home, its possessions and the people staying there
- Decide on a rental figure that is appropriate to the size, quality and location of your home. Do you need a deposit or advance payment?
- Complete a standard meublé de tourisme contract, which should include an inventory of appliances and contents
- Arrange for the marketing of your home and the execution of the letting contract
- Don't forget to declare your income for tax purposes
Instead of leaving your home in France empty for months at a time, it makes sound economic sense to earn an additional income by letting it to holidaymakers on a seasonal basis. With help from experts and some forward planning, you can maximise the commercial potential of your French property without too much hassle or worry.