Letting your French property to tourists
This article is for general information only. French law is a highly specialised area and you should only act or refrain from acting after receiving full professional advice on the facts of your particular case. This article is for general information and does not constitute investment advice. Always consult an IFA.
For some years now, the general growth in tourists coming to France has been accompanied by a new way of doing business. Holiday lets, holiday gîtes or furnished holiday accommodation currently make up the majority of the rental market.
Under article D-324-1 of the Tourism Code, this form of letting (‘meublés de tourisme’) is defined as: villas, apartments or studios, for the exclusive use of the person renting them, made available to rent to passing clientele, renting by the day, week or month and who do not take up residence there. If the holiday lets are arranged by an agent, each let cannot exceed 3 months (4 months if it is your principal residence). Even if a letting agent is not involved, exceeding theses limits (per let - not over the whole year) is likely to call into question the type of letting.
Whether you have second home in France, or live there permanently, letting out your property when it is not in use can be an additional source of income. The advantage of “meublé de tourisme” lets is that they are far more flexible than traditional lets and the tenant does not become resident in your property.
The level of this rental activity has become a competitor to the hotel market. Some town councils including Paris have decided to regulate this by classifying these holiday lets as hotel accommodation. There is an exception for your main residence. This reclassification means that using a property for holiday lets requires authorisation by the town council. If you do not comply with the administrative requirements severe penalties can be imposed.
Some town councils want to stop this activity in order to protect hotels and the “classic” rental market. In addition to town councils, the French tax authorities also want to reverse the trend as it affects the level of taxes paid. Neighbours can be relied on to help. Neighbours often complain of disturbances by tourists who are renting flats in buildings in which they are owner occupiers. Therefore, sometimes you may need to obtain the agreement of the management company to holiday let your property.
We recommend that you always let to us or your notaire know if you plan to seasonally let out a French property that you have bought or are buying.