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My French Business: We'll keep tabs on your empty Paris apartment

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My French Business: We'll keep tabs on your empty Paris apartment
16:27 CET+01:00
In the first of a new series looking at small businesses in France set up by foreigners The Local hears from those behind a new service for Paris apartment owners, who offer some good advice on starting out. If you'd like us to feature your French business, please contact news.france@thelocal.com

What's the business?

If you've lived in Paris for any length of time, you've probably suffered the misfortune of having a busted pipe or leaking boiler at home, or at least know a friend who has had one.

This becomes a much more serious problem if you're not home when the leak occurs.

Imagine you are on holiday or just back in your home country where you might spend half the year and you get a phone call from the gardien or concierge, or even your neighbour below who is furious that their ceilings are ruined after a leak from your bathroom.

So it's not surprising that a business has started in the capital aimed at helping people to avoid this type of property nightmare.

The website ApartCheck.com has recently launched in Paris in order to allow absent homeowners to keep tabs on their property while they're away.

If you have a business in France and want to tell our readers about it email news.france@thelocal.com

 

Members of the Apartcheck team will visit clients' homes while they are away on a monthly or perhaps even weekly basis to give them peace of mind. 

The service was founded by Briton Lisa Elias (below) and French business partner Lise Benamozig (second photo below), in part after an article that appeared on The Local about all the homes in the city that stand empty.

(Lisa Elias)

“We wanted the service to be simple and straightforward, with the least amount of admin required on the client's side, which we know tends to be a never-ending thing in France,” said Lisa Elias.

The service sends staff members to clients' apartments on a monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly basis to ensure that all is well and provide clients with electronic reports including checklists and photos of each room.

In the event of a problem in a client's home, ApartCheck will act on behalf of the homeowner and contact a professional capable of resolving the issue. 

For the basic service of one check a month, clients can expect to pay €1,200 for the whole year. Those interested can sign up for the service and choose a plan on the company's website Apartcheck.com.

(Lise Benamozig)

Where did the idea come from?

Founders Benamozig and Elias previously ran the concierge business called Savoir Faire Paris, but the pair realised there was a demand for another kind of service.

The fact Paris is so full of old apartments where the aging plumbing or electrical systems tend to break down meant there was a clear market for the service.

“There were always situations where we were called out to manage leaks, boiler problems, electricity cuts and break-ins etc," said Elias. “I felt there was an opportunity here to provide this exact service on a larger scale for people whose homes sit empty for much of the year."

Given that there are more than 200,000 apartments in Paris that are largely unoccupied or only partially occupied, according to a 2017 government study, there is no shortage of potential clients, specially foreign ones who own old Paris apartments.
 
"There is a high demand for checking on maintenance issues, leaks, and the security of people's homes," said Elias.
 
"We are confident the service is something that's needed particularly among foreigners who own apartments but who aren't in Paris to manage them.
 
"They can be empty for most of the year," she said. 
 
How difficult was it to set up the business?
 
Because the concierge service Savoir Faire Paris had already been set up, launching Apartcheck was more like shifting the focus of an already existing company to one particular service and changing the name.
 
"From speaking to the founder of Savoir Faire Paris and other friends who have launched companies, it is quite complicated at first," said Elias.
 
"But once you are in the system and you have done all the initial paperwork then it's fine," she said.
 
What advice would you offer for others starting a business in France?
 
"You have to be very strategic in your planning before you start out," she said. "Set projections and targets and aim to reach them so you know you are managing."
 
"Taxes as a business owner can be high, so you need to be informed about everything before you start," she said. 
 
Elias recommends employing an experienced accountant so there are no unexpected surprises from the tax man.
 
"There are so many little taxes that people might not know about, which we learned of while running Savoir Faire Paris," Elias said.
 
And she also stresses the importance of networking through the English-speaking community in your area.
 
"Networking among the expat community is really helpful," she said. "You'll come across people with different areas of expertise and who can help in different ways and it feels very supportive.
 
"And if you don't speak French well enough, then there's a network of support out there."

'My French Business' is a series focussing on small businesses set up by our Members. If you would like us to focus on your business then email news.france@thelocal.com

 

 
 
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Chez Moi - 26 Jan 2019 21:40
In America companies have been doing this for ever. In states like Florida where many houses sit vacant as their owners enjoy summer in the northern cities, these so called Home Watch services are everywhere. I'm surprised this is the first (is it) of these here in France?
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