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FAQ - Letting Your Gite

Where am I going to put my personal belongings if I let my property?

Concentrate on isolating just your own personal bits and pieces, and any fragile contents which have sentimental value! A nice lockable cupboard or wardrobe should do the trick. If there is a small room that you can lock, so much the better but, that’s not always an option!

I need to ensure that guests look after my property – any tips?

When a booking is confirmed, you need to include a damage deposit at the same time as the deposit for the cost of the holiday. An average nowadays seems to be £250, but this can vary according to the size of the property and its contents. Make sure your caretakers check around the property when they clean after the guests leave, and then wait to hear from them before you return the deposit. In the LBV network we always have a camera on hand to record any breakages or damage which might cause you to withhold all or part of the damage deposit.

If you place a friendly note in your housekeeping brochure, politely asking for any breakages to be replaced, then in all probability the odd broken glass or plate will have been sorted for you - except that leaves you with just that ... odd glasses and plates! It might be better to suggest an 'honesty' box, where a Euro or two could be put if there has been an accidental breakage, and at the end of the season that money can be used for replacements. This is the sort of thing you can explain when you communicate with the guests at the time of booking – if you build up a relationship with them before their holiday they are more likely to treat your property as if it were their own. This can be reinforced with your Welcome Pack – perhaps a nice French-style basket with some basic grocery items attractively arranged in it alongside the inevitable, and most important, bottle of wine. This will get their holiday off to a good start and reinforce the relationship.

How do I find someone to do the changeovers/cleaning?

We may be able to help with this. There are internet sites which you can join and then post your requirements, but beware the response! It’s important in France that you employ someone who is registered to work. If not, you - as the 'employer' - can be fined by the French Tax authorities, and they do this using a particularly nasty equation to work out their imagined losses as a result of your caretakers not paying their dues. In these days, when all governments are trying to claw back as much money as possible into their coffers, you ignore this point at your peril.

Can I get a fixed cost per changeover?

Funnily enough, with our experience we would encourage you to pay by the hour - although do agree an 'average' changeover with your caretakers. If you do insist on a flat fee then they will have to build in an allowance for the worse-case scenario, and your attempt to fix the cost may work against you by costing you more in the long run.

Expect the changeover cost to be from 25-30% of your rental. That way you will be realistic and get good caretakers who work with you as a team. The alternative is trying to scrimp on this aspect and then getting involved in issues which responsible caretakers would take care of for you.

How do the guests get in to the property? What is 'meet and greet'?

Once upon a time, when I was just a young girl... I would spend part of my Saturday afternoon and early evening rushing from property to property, attempting to make agreed rendezvous appointments with arriving guests. It was the most unenviable task. Those guests who had just arrived on French soil were often in a world of their own (had they REALLY said they would be at the property at 3.30?). Stopping for a shopping spree or to admire the scenery, they would leave the caretaker kicking her heels, the property all ready and nothing else for her to do, wasting time that was being paid for by the gite owners. Even if the guest had mobile phones they often switched them off in the excitement of being 'away from it all', so contacting them by phone didn't work either!

What I was attempting to provide back then was the norm, and was - and still is - referred to as 'meet and greet'. Clearly, if you are an on-site owner you can indeed provide this, but an alternative that we would recommend is to use a 'key safe' with a re-programmable combination lock. The holiday makers' set of keys can tucked inside, and the safe combination code can be given to them when they pay the balance of their holiday.

If you couple the key safe with a comprehensive house information pack, then you could just leave your caretakers' contact details in the file for them - plus, of course, a hand-written welcome note from you left by the welcome basket.

If you do want to provide an extra service, then the 'meet and greet' can still be achieved, with no wasted time, the morning after arrival. The Welcome Note can state that your caretakers will call in the following morning, at such-and-such a time, so they can check that your guests have found all that they need and are completely happy (or not, as the case may sometimes be, I'm afraid!).

How do I set a charge per week for my gite?

This is an issue with many aspects. Costs are governed by high, medium and low season; the size and location of the property; and whether it has any exceptional attributes. For example, a sweet one-bedroom gîte for two people would have a very different cost per week if it had its own swimming pool for their individual use. A well-equipped family sized home could be charged out at a much higher rental during the school holidays than during the weeks either side. What you define as 'peak season' will also vary according to local events.

Look at comparable properties in the same area as a guide. And think about making it a bargain in the early years if your property is the new one in the book. Better 100% of something than 100% of nothing. How many times have I said that to owners who want to charge exorbitant rentals?

Look at our Factsheet 'Setting Your Rental Rate'

How many weeks a year will my property let for?

It depends! On what? The size of the property, for one thing. A family-sized gîte will let for sure in the school holidays but will possibly be limited outside those weeks unless you price it keenly. A smaller gîte for couples will not rent for as much per week, but will doubtless have a longer 'letting life' during the year, with some couples actively AVOIDING the school holidays. Climate plays a part too – Brittany gîtes might not rent for as long in a season as those in the Languedoc. In the Midi-Pyrenees however, you could well benefit from two seasons (winter sports and summer sunshine).

end faq

Answers to your Questions

If you have a niggling problem or query then pain relief for it may well be found here.

In this section we deal with some common issues experienced by many gite owners.

You can pick a category and then browse the FAQs within it. The solution you need may be only a few clicks away.

For less common questions you should consult our Factsheets in the Document Store, or contact one of our consultants directly.

 

Our plan is to make The Gite Doctor the primary information resource for property owners in France. If you have a question that is not answered here, or if you have suggestions for information we could add to these FAQs, then email us now.

 

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