Letting your property in France
Letting your property in France, especially during the summer months, can be a great way to generate income. However, it is really important to ensure that you do everything in the correct way.
Renting out your second home in France is a popular option for overseas buyers. Some then plan to move over at a later date, and others have simply purchased their property as a holiday let. Whichever group you fall into, there are a number of legal areas that must be considered.
If you plan on letting your property in France as a ‘shell’, there’s no need to set yourself up as a registered business. However, if you are letting the property out furnished, then it may be wise to register as a ‘professional landlord’, so that you can take advantage of available tax breaks (such as access to the French health system). Nonetheless, if you register as a business, you must remember that you are liable for French income tax on your rental earnings – although the double taxation relief between the UK and France means you will not have to pay tax twice.
If you are letting your property in France long-term, it is also worth remembering that tenants have strong security of tenure in France. As such, it is important to conduct a thorough and diligent check on whoever you decide to have renting your property. Also, as a landlord you will need to provide tenants with certain survey reports, just as if they were buying the property.
If you let your property out furnished, there are certain benefits to setting yourself up as a registered business.
It is usual to ask for a deposit at the start of the tenancy. The amount of this will depend on how you are letting the property. For a long-term tenancy this will generally be for one month, and for a short-term let it is normal to ask for a 10% deposit of the total rental value. For a long-term let in particular, it’s a good idea to get the agreement signed by a notaire. This will underscore the terms of the tenancy agreement and also give you stronger rights if the rent is not paid.
Finding the right tenant
When you begin searching for a tenant, your process will very much depend on the type of property and its location. For example, we would recommend advertising a large flat in a city nationally, whereas a flat or house in a rural community, village or hamlet may only need advertising very locally.
You could, of course, start the process of letting your property in France from the UK. You could advertise through an English property rental website, many of which cater for short term holiday lets. When you are over in France visiting your property, it can be a good idea to make full use of local shops. As well as this, ask at the mairie (town hall) if you can put up a little advert. There are also plenty of free newspapers around these days – in some regions you may even find an English language magazine! A good tip is to continue advertising your property, even after you have been booked up for a while. This will help you stay in the public eye, and allow you to keep an eye on general demand for short term letting in your area.
You could also engage the services of a local estate agent and management company to advertise for you. They will moreover deal with the general letting and maintenance of the property – for a fee, which is normally negotiable. This will mean signing a “mandate”, an agreement between you and the agent, to market your property for rental. Don’t be persuaded to have your estate agent as a sole agent however – most French agents will not expect to be granted exclusivity!
In general, a decent flat or house in a good area with amenities will be easy to rent out, particularly in the summer months. Facilities such as garden, extra land and/or a pool, and being close to either the coast or mountains will always ensure that you can command a decent rental.
Finally, don’t forget insurance! We recommend using an established UK insurer that specialises in cover for people who let overseas properties. Holiday lets can often be a very good way to generate income from your French property whilst leaving you time to enjoy it yourself when you have no tenants.