One of the big misconceptions about owning a gite in France is that the paperwork and bureaucracy are so intense that it can make your life a misery.
Not so, says Jo-Ann Howell of French Admin Solutions, you just need to know where to begin. Here to help, is her detailed guide to running gites in France:
Defining your gite project
French holiday accommodations run by private individuals fall into 3 main labels:
Gîte, Chambre or Table d’Hôte and Camping.
A gite is classified as a separate, furnished house or apartment where you welcome your guests and remain available during their stay, but you do not live there.
A Chambre d’Hôte is more of a Bed & Breakfast style offer, which allows you to welcome people to your home and apart from a bed for the night(s), also offers breakfast. Table d’Hôte is an extension of Chambre d’Hôte offering local cuisine in a familial environment at other mealtimes.
What a Gite must have
Location: Your property should be in a location considered appropriate for tourist visits. Outside space is required, be it a garden, a balcony or a terrace.
Equipment: A gîte should have a furnished, communal space which can include an open-plan, equipped kitchen, as well as a table and chairs able to seat your full capacity of guests. It shouldoffer the means to wash, dry and iron laundry. Separate bedrooms must be furnished, and a shower room with sink and WC inside, with running hot and cold water, is a minimum requirement. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how far the term ‘rustic’ can stretch when it comes to property rentals!
Note: if you want to join any of the established Gîte networks or labels then provision of more luxurious accommodations may be required. A full list of the criteria for classification can be found here: classement.atout-france.fr. An inspection by your chosen label takes place, and you can use this report to receive a classification of your property by your local Préfecture also.
Safety: You must ensure the conformity and legal compliance of the property. This is especially important with regard to water quality, safety of windows, stairs balconies, and a whole lot more.
Insurance: You must inform your home insurance provider of your intention to provide seasonal rentals.
Fiscal and legal requirements for Gite Owners
Once you are sure your property is ready to welcome guests, you must begin the declaration & registration process.
Declaration of the property: All furnished holiday rental property must be declared to the Town Hall (Mairie).
Registration of the activity – professional or not? A distinct business structure is not required in order to run your Gîte, as long as your rental income is a secondary, lower income source for the household, and is below 23.000€ each year. In this case, you must register with your local Greffe du Tribunal de Commerce, using a P0i form within 15 days of the start of your first rental contract.
VAT or TVA: In principle the rental of furnished property is exempt from VAT. So, you as the owner do not charge VAT to your tenants and you do not “recover” VAT on your expenditure related to the rental property. That said, Article 261 D-4 of the General Tax Code (CGI) indicates six categories of VAT-taxable transactions, the most pertinent being that if you supply at least three of the following services on site and in addition to the accommodation offered, then the whole transaction is subject to VAT:
Breakfast; a daily cleaning service; supply of bedding; guest reception on arrival.
TIP! Membership of a Centre de Gestion Agréé (CGA) is worth investigating due to the fact that members avoid the standard 25% profit uplift applied in order to calculate the tax owed.
Finances for gite owners
You may be able to benefit from financial assistance when setting up. If your plan is to renovate a crumbling cultural relic, with the intent of breathing new life into a flagging local economy, you could be entitled to financial support, from your Conseil Générale, local Council or even the EU. If you’re not sure if you qualify, ask at your local town hall.
If you want to make changes to your property in order to make it accessible to people of reduced mobility then other aids are available to help you achieve a ‘Tourisme et Handicaps’ label tourisme-handicaps.org.
Rules and regulations change from time to time so we advise you check the appropriate governmental websites to ensure that you are up to date with the information.