CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to France Magazines today CLICK HERE

Make your French property pay

PUBLISHED: 15:56 16 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:57 16 October 2018

There's always demand for holiday accommodation in popular villages like St-Cirq-Lapopie in Lot  © Getty Images/garethkirklandphotography

There's always demand for holiday accommodation in popular villages like St-Cirq-Lapopie in Lot © Getty Images/garethkirklandphotography


5 things you need to consider before you let out your French property to holidaymakers

Many owners rush headlong into the letting market believing their ‘piece of French paradise’ will result in bookings flooding in. While it may be an ideal escape for the owner, demanding holidaymakers may have other ideas, particularly when there is no reliable wifi!

Owners often look on web portals at similar properties in the area and base their pricing on these listings. This is usually without any real knowledge of how many weeks these properties are actually let for and little understanding of what the facilities are like.

1) Seasonal appeal

Different areas have different letting seasons. In the Alps the ski season is a fixed and busy period but for the rest of France the main summer holiday season spans July, August and part of September.

Outside of high season there is less opportunity to let successfully unless the property is coastal or in a tourist city. In the north and other parts of France, the weather is often wet and cold in winter so it is essential to have good heating – owners must take into account the cost of holidaymakers using all the radiators and logs!

Chamonix in the French Alps offers a busy double season  summer and winter skiing © Getty Images/iStockphoto/KrasnevskyChamonix in the French Alps offers a busy double season  summer and winter skiing © Getty Images/iStockphoto/Krasnevsky

2) Size matters

A common mistake is to try and cram in as many people as possible into the property, often using sofa-beds in the living area. A listing can show a property that sleeps 10 people in three bedrooms but only has one bathroom! Determining the optimum capacity for a property is simply a matter of common sense.

Beds and mattresses are one of the most contentious issues in holiday homes. Mattresses and protectors, pillows and duvets should be of good quality and must be replaced if they become stained. If you provide bed linen and towels, don’t use any old linen you have brought over from home in the UK. Invest in good quality products and replace them on average every two or three years.

If you provide a BBQ for guest use, it should be of good quality along with the outdoor furniture. The number of chairs, parasols etc should reflect the maximum potential number of guests. These may have to be replaced each season.

It is essential nowadays to provide wifi, and UK TV is an added bonus.


Don’t miss

Things to consider before buying a holiday rental property

Changes to French income tax


Pet-friendly properties are popular © Karen TaitPet-friendly properties are popular © Karen Tait

3) Access all areas

Does your property have wheelchair access and is it suitable for guests with impaired mobility? If you have an accessible ground-floor bedroom and bathroom, it can be a real plus point for your advertising.

Pet-friendly properties are popular as it’s now so easy to bring dogs (and cats) to France. If you allow pets, specify how many, and maybe the breed and size. It is quite common to levy a pet cleaning fee, in the region of £10 per pet, per week. Guests will want to know if the garden is secure (fence or gate). Note that a property close to farmland and livestock may not be suitable for dogs.

How suitable is the property for children? A lot of older homes have steep uncarpeted staircases where it is impossible to install a stairgate; in this case you should only accept babies (i.e. non walkers!) and older children. If you have a swimming pool it is particularly important that it complies with French safety regulations and also that you remind your guests to supervise young children at all times.

Local amenities are important. Guests often want to be in a peaceful location but close enough to walk or drive a short distance to a bar, boulangerie or shops. If your property is near any amenities or tourist attractions then describe them in detail on your advert.

4) Property managers

As an absent owner it is essential that you appoint someone trustworthy to clean the property between guests, launder the bed linen, manage the garden/outdoor area and be available for guests’ problems during their holiday. In France it is illegal to employ someone ‘on the black’ and the penalties can be severe for both the owner and the individual carrying out the work.

Good property managers who are properly registered and appropriately insured can be difficult to find, particularly if you are set on a traditional Saturday changeover day, as they will likely already have a full ‘order book’ for Saturdays. Adopting a Friday or Sunday changeover may open up more travel options and potentially cheaper ones for guests.

Of course, good property managers come at a price. Furthermore, they may live some distance from you, resulting in travel costs being added to your bill. If your managers are called out by guests they may either bill you or the guests, depending upon the reason for the callout. Yet another cost to be aware of!

5) Deposits, insurance and tax

Most owners take a damage deposit along with payment for the holiday. Depending on the size and contents of the property, this will generally range from £100-£500. Statistically, there is a very small chance of needing to retain any or all of this deposit as a result of damage.

Note that your house insurer in France will need to know that you are renting out to holidaymakers and may increase your annual premium accordingly.

In France the collection of tourist tax (taxe de séjour) may now apply to stays in self-catering accommodation. This was historically applied only to hotels, campsites and B&Bs, but in recent years, many towns and cities now require gîte owners to pay this too. Check with your local town hall (mairie) if you’re not sure. The amounts can be as little as 50 centimes per night per adult.

Sue O’Grady is the Reservations Director for Prestige Property Services – Europe

More from Living in France

Tue, 13:44

French cheese doesn’t just have to be saved for the cheeseboard, why not experiment with canapés too?

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

How does a jewellery designer, filmmaker and restaurateur who was born in Israel and grew up in New York come to turn a French château into an artists’ retreat? Ziggy Attias shares his life in Champagne-Ardenne

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

France has helped launch a satellite to study the effects of global warming; but how do French attitudes towards climate change compare to those of other Europeans?

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

France has historically been on the leading edge of eco-friendly projects and regulations. While many argue that much more needs to be done to meet environmental goals in France and globally, here are 11 ways that French government, companies and people are striving to be green.

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Seen a French property that would make fabulous food business but unsure of the paperwork and process? Read Tracy Leonetti’s at-a-glance guide to opening a restaurant or cafe in France

Read more
Running a business
Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Thinking of setting up a campsite in France? Here’s what you’ll need to consider when it comes to planning permission.

Read more
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

With its unbeatable wine and cheese and laissez-faire attitude, there’s nowhere better to retire than France. But which cities are best for growing old in? Here’s the top 10

Read more
Pays de la Loire
Thursday, January 25, 2018

If you are buying in or moving to France you will need a French bank account but before you open one make sure you read these 11 things you need to know to avoid making a costly mistake

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

France might be experiencing a shortage of general practitioners but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a GP willing to take on new patients. Here’s what you need to know about finding and registering with a doctor when you move to France

Read more
Expats in France
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The French pharmacy is so much more tham a place to pick up your prescriptions. Here are 11 things you might not know about pharmacies in France.

Read more
Healthcare in France
Subscribe for

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now