Carmel O’Connell and Joe Wilson from Les Bons Voisins run through the common pitfalls of holiday lets and share handy tips to maximise rental income and secure your home while you’re away
Q: We want to rent out our holiday home in France when we’re not using it. What are some of the health and safety rules/maintenance musts we should be aware of?
A: Various health and safety issues must be addressed before letting a property such as ensuring suitable smoke/CO2 detectors are installed or that the distance between railings around raised decked areas or bannisters on staircases are suitable for children in child-friendly properties.
Some aspects of health and safety are considered good practice rather than being mandatory but addressing these helps to highlight the standard of your property as being above many others.
There are strict regulations regarding swimming pool safety that must be adhered to however as failing to meet them can result in heavy fines.
We would recommend that experienced property managers ‘audit’ your property to identify any issues they would advise attending to.
Q: We have been looking at alarm systems for our holiday home but they can be extremely expensive. Would it be cheaper to pay a caretaker to check on the house instead?
A: This is a regular conundrum. Alarm systems that are effective in more built-up areas are questionable in rural France and careful consideration must be given to what is suitable for your properties location. Many second-home owners purposely search for properties which are, if not isolated, in peaceful and tranquil surroundings thus an activated alarm might not actually ‘alarm’ anyone if there are no neighbours to hear it.
Alarm systems connected to security company response centres rely on police intervention which can also be some distance away and are quite costly options with limited effectiveness.
Alarm systems are however a good deterrent and with ever-changing technology are becoming more effective allowing homeowners to be directly notified when an alarm sounds. It is now a simple matter to establish direct video and audio access to your holiday home, provided it has suitable power and internet capabilities, and to be alerted yourself should there be any movement within your property or grounds. But what can you effectively do from another country?
An effective and efficient solution is to have a combination of physical, technical and manpower security protocols. Physical to include good, well-maintained locks, solid, properly fitted shutters; technical being a suitable alarm system, ideally wifi enabled with movement sensor activation and lighting. The manpower aspect is best accomplished by employing a property manager.
Your property manager will conduct ad hoc property checks in addition to keeping your property looking well maintained and cared for and thus looking lived in. These combined security protocols will be a considerable help in deterring opportunist criminals and persuade them to move on in search of an easier target.
Q: We recently opened a chambre d’hôtes and have received lovely reviews. But this is not translating to more bookings. What can we do to boost our profile?
A: Many chambre d’hôtes and gite owners have traditionally focused on a particular market but with the radical changes in the world we live in today it is important to widen the focus and look to new markets. Rather than only advertising on UK based sites look at broader European options. Many other countries have a high level of English spoken and many letting platforms have automatic translation message apps that help to overcome the language barrier.
Consider writing a blog post about why you moved to France? Look at the many websites and magazines which are often on the lookout for real-life ex-pat stories.
Social media is a mainstream source of advertising and has many possible outlets but it must be handled correctly and carefully. Be sure you know how to use it properly and effectively and be cautious not to overdo it.
There are various sites such as Le Bon Coin (www.leboncoin.fr) which sell all sorts of things including holidays and services?
Finally, look at local attractions near to your property and utilise their pull. If you are near a good golf course for example, then look to target golf clubs in other countries to advertise in their in members magazines or newsletters, offering their members a special discount.
Q: We occasionally rent out our home in France, is the rental income taxable in France?
A: You do need to declare the income in France but that doesn’t mean you will end up paying any tax on it. That will depend entirely on your overall ‘worldwide income’. Unfortunately, many UK accountants appear to tell their clients that the rental doesn’t need to be declared in France, which is not correct, so we assist with this issuing a fact sheet to our clients setting out their obligations.
Les Bons Voisins Property Management
The first national network of property managers in France
Caring for those who care for France
Tel: 00 33 (0)5 62 29 26 62
Email: [email protected]