If you have a property in France and you’re thinking about making it pay its way, you may have thought about selling it. Yes, the euro is strong against the pound and can mean that some will benefit from this situation if they can sell, but just like the British real estate market economy, the one in France is also subdued. This can make it tricky if you want to sell your home in France for top dollar, and it can make it tricky to sell it in the timeframe you may want to sell it in too.
A very real alternative for those who have a second home across the Channel is letting it out. Depending on the location of the property in question and the type of home, you may be able to let it out during the winter or the summer season, you may be able to short-term let or even long let. Your options will be dictated by market demand of course.
In this article entitled ‘everything you need to know about letting your French property’ we will explain how to go about it, what you can expect to earn, your tax obligations and we’ll even cover swimming pool regulations…
To Rent or Not to Rent, That is the Question
If you have a home sitting idly by whilst you’re feeling the very real effects of inflation for example, it can make sense to think about earning alternative sources of income – and with an empty property, the obvious choice is earning a rental income from that home. With a home abroad in a desirable location like France, chances are that you can let that property out and earn some form of income from it. As a rule of thumb, a property in a French city is better for long-term letting and a rural or coastal home is more suited to short-term, tourism based letting opportunity.
If you’re thinking about buying property in France specifically with a view to renting it out, then think carefully about the length of the letting season if you’re going to target tourism rental. As the climate differs greatly across the entire nation this will dictate when and for how long a home can be let out – with some properties in the Alps having both a winter and a summer season by targeting very different types of outdoor sports enthusiasts for example.
Earning an Income from Your Home in France
As French property prices have climbed and the desire to own a home in France has also increased, so the amount you can earn from rental income as a percentage of the value of the property has almost halved in recent years. The average yield is now about 4 – 5%, whereas it was up to 10% just a few years ago on average. Speak to others in your area who rent their property to try and gauge typical rents, consider speaking to rental and lettings agents too and perhaps even having a professional survey of your home done by an agent so that they can tell you how much you may be able to earn.
When you have a weekly or monthly rental figure confirmed, you need to think about the number of weeks or months of the year you will likely fill your home – be realistic rather than idealistic. Yes there are 52 weeks in a year but if the rental season is only 20 weeks you may actually only get 16 weeks rental income a year for example. Factor in times when the property will be empty due to lack of demand, factor in the time you want to stay in it, if you’re long letting factor in a few months between potential tenants, and remember, even I the season is 20 weeks long you may not fill it for that amount of time.
Once you have done these calculations you can begin to determine whether it is really a viable option for you to let your French property out. For those who have bought a holiday home in a desirable setting, it is usually worth it!
Finding Rental Tenants
If you’re long letting then it makes sense to put your property in the hands of an agency who will manage everything relating to finding tenants, getting them vetted, sorting out contracts and deposits and even managing the property, the maintenance of it and collecting rents for you. Such agencies of course charge a fee, which is usually a percentage of the rental rate, however, they also take all of the hard work out of the equation!
Alternatively you can advertise the property in a local paper and seek tenants, and if you do do this you will have to go through the process of asking for references, taking a deposit and drawing up a secure and water tight contract.
If you’re short-term letting or holiday letting then there are a number of ways you can go about getting tenants. You can advertise the property online on any one of the various sites that show properties for rent across France, you can do the same offline, you can try and market the home with your own website – though the competition to get anywhere near the top of the search engines is more than tough! You can use Google Ads to market the property or you can advertise in local newspapers, or again, through an agency.
Managing Your Rental Property
For those who long let, the management options for the property are relatively simple – you either employ an agency who takes on the job for you…or you do it yourself! If you’re living remotely it can be okay to manage your own rental property in France because most of the time there will be nothing to manage, your tenants will reside therein quite happily and continue to pay their rent on time. However, if or when something does inevitably need your attention – from minor repairs to rent arrears – you will have to get to France to oversee the handling of the issue. If you have friends or relatives who live near the home perhaps they will be willing to be called upon in an emergency – if not, you could have to drop everything and head to France!
If you’re short-term letting to holiday rental tenants your maintenance and management responsibilities will be quite intense. For a start you’ll have to handle the turn around of the property on perhaps a weekly basis, this will involve cleaning and changing linen, perhaps replacing any items which have inadvertently been damaged and of course tending to any outside areas and pools. You can employ an agency or even an individual to manage this side of things for you. This is probably a good option if you don’t live in France near the property in question.
Giving Your Tenants What They Want
Gone are the days when you could furnish your French home cheaply and get away with it! Nowadays your home has to not only be photogenic so it looks good in all advertising material, but it has to be furnished well and have a good standard of amenities and facilities too. People who pay out good money to go abroad do not want to stay in anything less than a decent property. Pay attention to everything from the supply of kitchen equipment to the amount of outdoor sun loungers you supply for example!
Tax on Your Rental Income
You have an obligation to declare the income you earn from renting a property out. Depending on whether you’re resident in the UK or France, this will decide to whom you have to declare that income, and it is possible you’ll have to declare it to HMRC as well as the French taxman. The good news is that there is a reciprocal tax agreement between the UK and France so you don’t have to pay income tax twice! Speak to an accountant about your declaration liabilities.
Swimming Pools and New Regulation
New rules and regulations have been introduced relating to the safety aspects of swimming pools particularly in rental properties in France. These have been introduced to reduce the numbers of drowning incidents that occur, and the law in its simplest form states that a standardised security system has to be installed for all pools. This includes pool fences or safety barriers, pool covers and possibly pool alarms. There are some arguments over the exact level of security system you have to have in place, but what you have to look for is the official ‘NF mark’ of conformity when you employ someone to install pool security measures. Whoever you employ, they should have the very latest rules and directives and be able to advise you of them. What’s more, when you tell your insurance company that you will be letting the property out they will cover what you have to have in place, and if you use a letting or management agency, they too should tell you what you need in place.
A Final Word of Advice
Get indemnity insurance in place as well as the usual buildings and contents insurance…this is because if any of your tenants injure themselves whilst on your premises they may sue you. And when you’re about to let the property out, make sure you inform your buildings and contents insurers as they may need to change your policy.