If you’re renting out your French property to holidaymakers, make sure you’re clear from the start about the deposit and what it covers
Should I ask for a damage deposit at my holiday let?
The simple answer is yes! For your own peace of mind, it is always advisable to ask guests to pay a damage/security deposit’ before they arrive at your house.
How much should I ask for as a deposit?
The appropriate amount to ask for will depend on the size of your property and its contents. For example, for a small two-bedroom cottage, between £150-¬£200 may be acceptable. For larger properties with additional facilities/features such as a hot tub or swimming pool, you should think in terms of £300¬-£500. Remove any valuable or precious items prior to letting your property. Although under some contracts, recompense for damage is not limited to the amount of the damage deposit, it’s not easy or pleasant claiming additional recompense from a departed guest.
How should I collect the deposit?
It can be collected along with the final payment of rent from a guest. The deposit should be banked by you or your letting agent. In the case of companies who request and take payment for bookings, for example, Owners Direct or Trip Advisor, there is an option when setting up your advert to request holding of a damage deposit. You would typically agree to refund this deposit (less any amounts to be retained) within a week of the holiday ending. This allows you or your property manager sufficient time to discover anything untoward in the property. Should damage be discovered, photographic evidence should be taken as proof. Note that some French guests may still expect to hand over a ‘chèque de caution’ on arrival. This is not recommended because you or your property manager would need to be there to receive the cheque, and they may not expect you to cash the cheque unless it is needed.
Should ‘damage’ include mess?
Many owners will ‘write off’ small breakages like a couple of glasses or plates as normal wear and tear. Far more subjective is the cleanliness of the property following your guests’ departure. It should be made clear in your adverts and housekeeping brochure if you expect the property to be left in ‘a clean and tidy condition’. Also remind guests pre-¬arrival, preferably in their signed contract, that failure to comply with this may result in some or all of their damage deposit being withheld.
Any other tips?
Deposits can also be used to cover instances such as guests not adhering to recycling instructions. Failure to do this may result in the property manager taking away large amounts of rubbish, recycling and bottles, all of which adds to their time and your costs for their service! Instructions should be prominently displayed in your property and also described in your housekeeping brochure.
Sue O’Grady is Reservations Director at Prestige Property Services