French Property Rental Guide – (part six)
In part five of our property rental guide we took a closer look at the property taxes payable on French properties.
In part six we’ll be discussing the best ways of tracking down a suitable French rental property and, for those who already own a French property, we’ll also cover how to go about finding a tenant.
Finding a Rental Property
We covered ‘Choosing a Property’ in part one of our rental guide, but here we’ve gone into a bit more detail and supplied some useful sources.
If your stay in France is temporary you might want to consider renting a serviced apartment. Although this is often the pricier option it can also be less stressful!
If you intend to stay in France for a significant stretch of time, ensure that before you begin looking for the rental property of your dreams you thoroughly research potential areas and property styles.
Get a firm idea of what the property market is like in the area you intend to move to (does property go quickly? Is there a lot to choose from?) and see what you can expect to get for your budget. Be realistic about what you can afford and what you can’t, and don’t immediately dismiss a property if it doesn’t tick every box! You also need to consider whether you want a furnished or unfurnished home, whether pets are allowed to be kept in the property and what amenities are close by.
When you’ve narrowed down your search field, have a firm idea of what you’re looking for, and have your budget clearly in mind, check out as many properties as you can. If you can’t physically visit them look at them on the internet, but do ask the seller/estate agent to provide additional photos so you get a realistic impression of the property and aren’t unpleasantly surprised later!
Although some expats prefer to find rental properties with the help of relocation companies you can go it alone, using property magazines, the internet and word of mouth recommendation.
If you’re able to go to France and search for your home in person learn how ‘to rent’ is written in French so you can recognise it on boards outside of properties, in local papers and in shop windows – don’t miss out on your dream property just because you can’t speak the lingo!
Similarly, if you find an area you like ask the locals whether they know of any properties that are or may be coming available. Some landlords in France don’t list their properties but prefer to acquire tenants through word of mouth recommendation.
In popular areas landlords can often afford to be choosy about who they rent their properties to. If you find a property you like make sure you stand the best chance possible of securing it. Find out what documents you’ll need to present to a potential landlord in advance so you don’t waste time later (see part one of our guide) and make sure you’re polite and presentable during interactions with them. Landlords will usually ask to see your credit score, try and make sure they don’t get a nasty shock!
A positive reference from a former landlord can also make a big difference so try and get your hands on one.
And finally, remember that while most landlords are honest and reasonable, some aren’t. Make sure you know your rights. Have an independent, reputable legal professional look over your contract before you sign anything and have copies of the contract drawn up in English as well as French.
If you’re looking to find a rental property, take a look at these useful websites:
Finding a Tenant
If you’re looking to rent out your French property one of the first things you should consider is whether you intend to let out the property furnished or unfurnished. Remember, the standard contract length for a furnished property is significantly shorter than the standard contract for an unfurnished one.
Although unfurnished properties tend to be more popular among French communities, many international tenants prefer to take furnished properties. That being said, the amount of international tenants taking unfurnished properties whilst they decide whether or not to make the move permanent is on the rise.
You will also need to come up with your policy on issues like pets and smoking, and you’ll need to decide whether you want to rent your property on the international or local market.
The size, position, location, condition and rental value of your property will all effect what kind of tenant you should be aiming for, and the first four points will have a significant effect on the fifth! If your property is a bit small, isn’t in a popular location and isn’t in the best condition you won’t be in a position to demand a high amount of rent.
Remember that the type of advertising you should use will also depend on the type of property you have and the kind of tenant you’re trying to attract.
Highly desirable properties often do best if advertised internationally, while more modest properties may just need local advertisement.
Generally, French people looking for somewhere to rent will look through local papers and check out advertisements in shop windows, or go off word of mouth recommendation. International property-seekers tend to use the internet. If you want to appeal to the broadest market possible list your property on French property sites as well as English and international ones. Only advertise on sites which seem to get a lot of traffic and which appear to turn over properties at a fairly rapid rate – don’t bother posting long-term let adverts on holiday rental sites, it’s usually a waste of time!
If you’re looking to attract a tenant from overseas you may want to consider listing your property in one of these magazines:
French Property News
Living in France
Even after you’ve found a tenant for your property you may want to relist it from time to time, just to keep an eye on market demand.
If you have a property which just won’t shift, try using a different advertising source, slightly lowering the rent, or giving it a mini-makeover.
Using an estate agent can save hassle and fees are usually negotiable so if you’re having problems renting your property yourself you may find using an agent a good option. They might also be able to give you some insight into the property market in your local area and let you know where you’ve been going wrong with searching for a tenant. Just bear in mind that if you give estate agents exclusivity on finding a tenant you’ll still have to pay them a fee even if you find the tenant yourself! When the tenant is renting the property for use as their principle home, estate agent fees are shared between the tenant and landlord. This also applies to any costs incurred in the drawing up of the tenancy agreement. In France the landlord can opt to meet all the costs themselves, but they can’t decide to impose all the costs on the tenant!
Finally, if you have a French property to rent remember, you might have the power but you also have to deal with all the stress and hassle that come with it! Being a landlord is a big responsibility, and generally those landlords who treat their tenants well have less problems than those which don’t.
In the final part of our guide to renting property in France we’ll discuss French holiday lets.