It doesn’t need to stay a dream. Cressida van Zyl-Pithey explains
If you’re living in a house or apartment on the Côte d’Azur then you’re sitting on a goldmine. Well, let’s not exaggerate but you’ve certainly got an asset that could help you turn that dream holiday into a reality. Put simply, you can create a nice little earner by handing your home over to other people for part of the summer. You don’t fancy the idea? Well, lots of people do and go on doing it year after year.
There are two possibilities (other than B&Bing): home swapping – which means someone in, say, Singapore or San Diego exchanges homes with you for a given period (for more on this see Reporter n° 131 or our website and www.homelink.fr) – or a straightforward renting of your house or apartment. How does that work? You tell your local tourist office what you want to do and, after checking you out and the accommodation in question, they will – if satisfied – recommend you to enquirers from France and abroad. Alternatively you can pay to appear on a website such as www.abritel.fr which is widely consulted by those looking for places to stay. The big advantage you have, of course, is living here rather than around places like Roubaix or Clermont-Ferrand which attract few vacationers.
Formalities and practicalities
If you’re renting in a given year for less than three months there are few formalities. It’s a good idea, though, to check with your insurer that there’s no impediment to renting and, if you’re a tenant, with your landlord. Brit Belinda rents out her two-room apartment in one of the smaller seaside towns along the Coast. “I’m lucky,” she told me. “I work for myself and much of the time online. In July and August I go to my mother’s place in Norfolk and allow my place here to bring in some money. That’s also luck – I’ve got somewhere else to go. It doesn’t pay to be greedy. I charge 750 euros a week and I’ve had the same two couples, one British, one Danish, for three consecutive years. They bring me 6000 euros which is very useful.”
What are the practicalities? “You often get an e-mail from potential clients and then when you have them on the phone you can usually tell if they’re okay. This area doesn’t attract many yobs. You’ve got to be totally honest about what’s on offer. There’s no pool on my property and although we’re quite close to a train station, public transport isn’t all that good. Actually the Danes use my car; the Brits prefer not to drive. We have a formal contract – you can get a model text at the tourist office – and we agree about utilities payments. I’ve had no problems. My tenants know the scene now but for newcomers you should prepare an information sheet giving details of shops, doctors, pharmacies, bus and train services, good – and bad – places to eat as well as a rundown on your domestic equipment. You should also give a contact number in case of problems and you’ll need someone to handle the changeovers. I’m lucky again, I’ve got a friend to do it but there are agencies that’ll handle that side of things. Again, ask at the tourist office. To sum up, for me it’s been hassle-free and something totally positive. Last summer we had pretty dire weather in Norfolk – no sign of that “barbecue summer” the Met office had promised – but as I walked mum’s dog in the drizzle I thought about those 6000 euros and my upcoming October holiday in Malaysia.”
See also Jo Taylor: Earning Money From Your French Home (UK: Survival Books), reviewed in Reporter n° 114 and on our website.
From Reporter 137 - Feb/March 2010