Guide to Letting Property in France

1. Introduction

Becoming a landlord in France is an important activity for many international owners of French property.

Traditionally, the main approach has been to let out furnished accommodation on a seasonal basis to the holiday market.

However, in recent years this market has seen a large increase in supply, due in no small measure to the sheer number of international owners who now rent out second homes!

Inevitably, in some areas of the country, and on certain types of property, vacancy levels have increased and investment returns have declined. It is no longer the 'easy money' option for investors that it may have been in the past.

As an alternative to the holiday market an increasing number of international owners have been turning to letting on a longer-term basis, either to the French community or to those from abroad who may be in the process of relocating.

The regular long term market is one that frightens many international owners, either because they do not speak French or because of the laws on security of tenure, which are heavily biased in favour of the tenant.

Nevertheless, letting of property is a one of the most fiscally attractive income streams in France, as the tax breaks are not ungenerous and small landlords are not obligatorily liable to self-employed social security contributions.

Accordingly, we devote most of these pages to a description of the law and practice in the long term letting market, both furnished and unfurnished, because we know it is a topic that interests many of our readers, and we do not think it is generally well-understood.

In this guide we do not review French 'leaseback' or 'buy-to-let' schemes. These are generally 'off plan' properties in holiday destinations, leased back to a property management company for at least 9 years. Good professional advice must be taken if you propose to buy such a property.

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