Renting out your French property
Renting out your French house or Holiday home
What does it cost to register a property with French Locations?To register one property with us we charge an annual fee of £80, with a sliding scale for owners with more than one property to be included. For full details of the charges and how to register your property with us please click here.
Why let long-term?Many of the properties registered with us for long-term lets are also available for shorter summer holiday bookings. There is a limited demand for shorter holiday bookings during the low season, but a proven market for longer bookings of a couple of months or more. By making your house available year round not only will you realise a much greater income from letting, but the house will benefit from being heated and lived in throughout the colder months. Many longer-term tenants are happy to maintain the garden whilst they are there, and knowing that your house is not standing empty for long periods can be a valuable deterrent to burglars.
Who wants to rent long-term in France?The majority of those wishing to rent long-term are considering buying a house themselves and, as a result, may wish to spend some time living in France to ‘test the water’. Renting gives them the opportunity to “try before they buy”, possibly spend time researching schools or employment prospects, and be sure that a move to France is right for them. Others may already have bought a property and need to live nearby for a period of some months to oversee renovation and building works before they can move in; or they may want a base in France for work reasons, some time out enjoying the French way of life for a few months, or even a peaceful base to get the creative juices flowing! Whatever their motivation, long-term renting can offer them an excellent choice of properties all over France.
How long?Some owners make their properties available for rent during the off-season only (usually Autumn through to Spring), perhaps because they use the property themselves during the Summer or because they make it available for shorter holiday bookings. Others will happily take long lets all year round, or even on a fairly open-ended basis, until such time as they want to move there permanently themselves. Do be prepared to be flexible over your long-term letting season - it may be better to accept a single 12-month booking than have to deal with weekly or fortnightly changeovers throughout the summer months. Under French law unfurnished property must be let for a minimum period of three years, in some cases five years. The vast majority of tenants enquiring through French Locations are looking for a tenancy of between 3 – 12 months, so in most cases furnished property is best. The law also requires that ‘furnished’ means comfortably furnished rather than just basic, so should include beds, table & chairs, crockery, cutlery etc.
Sometimes, however, tenants want to bring some or all of their furniture with them whilst they are house-hunting in France. So if you have a secure barn or outbuilding do consider making this available to them for storage. Arrangements for this can be covered within the terms of a tenancy agreement.
Leases Click here for more informationFor your peace of mind we strongly recommend that there should be a formal French tenancy agreement (“Contrat de Location”) in place for all lets. If a tenant is going to be using your house for a period of several months it is crucial to have all the details covered in a watertight lease so as to avoid any misunderstanding or disagreement. An English lease is not valid under French law. French Locations offers the additional service of supplying tailor-made French tenancy agreements for bookings of one month or more. For full details go to the ‘Leases’ section of our website. We would suggest that you should be realistic about the monthly rental for a long-term let. The evidence from our years of experience is that the monthly rent you could expect to realise for an off-season let will probably be more or less equivalent to the weekly rent in high season, but do have a look at what similar properties are charging. There are no hard and fast rules - every owner’s circumstances are different. Be prepared to offer a range, e.g. £500 - £650. This gives you the flexibility to negotiate depending on the length of the booking, the number in the party, etc.
It is worth considering accepting a slightly lower rent if the tenant is prepared to pay the whole amount in advance. If you are considering long-term lets all year round you may wish to stipulate that the rent during the summer months will be higher to reflect market forces. We would also recommend that utility bills (gas, electricity, water etc.) are paid by the tenant in addition to the monthly rent – that way they are responsible for their own fuel consumption, particularly in the colder months.
How do tenants find French Locations?
Tenants come to us from a variety of sources. Many will find us on the internet and contact property owners direct as a result. The majority of tenants are house-hunting in France and are regular readers of magazines such as French Property News, Living France, we also advertise in Ferry ports and Eurotunnel plus many other locations. We advertise all year round to ensure a regular supply of high quality enquiries from potential tenants. Because they spend £4 or so each month on these titles, they are serious about what they are planning.
What Happens Next?
Having seen details of your property the prospective tenant will make contact with you. In the first instance they are probably just making tentative enquiries with several property owners. It may be useful to have additional information about your property perhaps a basic design webpage of your own (contact email@example.com). In any case, do not be tempted to accept a firm booking by phone or email at the first point of contact. Find out a bit about the tenant. After all, if you are letting your property to someone for a number of months you want to be safe in the knowledge that they will be a responsible tenant. We would strongly recommend that they see the property before a final agreement is reached to rent, especially if they have particular requirements. It’s not being nosy to enquire why they propose going to France for a number of months, nor is it unreasonable to ask for a couple of references.
We would suggest that you ask:-
It would also be wise to indicate that you would like French Locations to put together a formal French tenancy agreement in order to protect the interests of all parties.
In short, find out as much as possible about the tenant and set out the ground rules early on – you should then have the basis for a trouble-free let.
Some points to consider:
You should ask the tenant for a security deposit once the booking is agreed in principle. This is (a) to guarantee the booking until a tenancy agreement has been drawn up, and (b) to act as a warranty against breakages or damage during the rental period. There is no fixed amount for a security deposit, but many owners ask for the equivalent of one month’s rent. This deposit should be returned to the tenant within one month after the end of the booked period, subject to the owner being happy that the property is in the same condition as at the beginning of the tenancy. We may be able to put you in touch with a managing agent who will look after and check your property for you.
It is normal practice for the tenant to pay for consumable utilities, e.g. oil, gas, water, electricity, during the rental period. In the case of metered utilities (such as water and electricity) you can ask the supplier to change the bills over to the tenant’s name. In practice, however, it is more common for the owner still to receive and pay the bills and arrange for the tenant to reimburse them within, say, 10-14 days of receipt of a copy of the bill. For bills covering the beginning and end of the tenancy period which will not be the tenant’s responsibility in full, you should take a meter reading and charge the tenant pro-rata, your managing agent can do this for you. As for oil, the usual practice is for the owner to supply a full tank for the tenant at the start of the tenancy, and for the tenant to leave the tank full again on departure.
Bed linen and towels
It is normal for tenants to bring their own bed-linen and towels. Many will do so as a matter of course, but others may expect it to be supplied. It’s worth checking. We suggest you charge, say 5 pounds per month per set of linen or towels to cover ware and tare
In general you will find that tenants do like to have a TV, in particular if they can receive UK TV channels via a satellite or digi-box, so consider installing one if there is not one in your house already.
This is another feature which many long-term tenants will be looking for. Be prepared to have this installed if you do not already have it. The tenant may pay for it, or share the cost. We have built this arrangement into a number of tenancy agreements in the past.
Some tenants may have domestic pets they wish to bring with them, others want grazing and/or stabling for one or more horses. If you accept pets then don’t be afraid to lay down strict rules and charge a higher deposit eg 6 weeks. Particular arrangements, for example temporary fencing, dog kennels, specialist cleaning of carpets and furnishings at the end of a tenancy, can all be built into the tenancy agreement.