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TOURISM

What are the rules on renting out French property on Airbnb?

If you want to rent your property on Airbnb in France, you need to know the rules - and, this being France, there are a lot of them. They also depend on location. Here's what you need to know.

A tourist boat on the Seine river in front of the Eiffel Tower at sunset in Paris
Paris has tough rules on Airbnb rentals. Photo: Ludovic Marin / AFP

Airbnb has been hugely popular in France. It unveiled its French platform back in 2012 and by the summer of 2019 more than 8.5 million French people used Airbnb in three months, according to Le Parisien – 5 million of those choosing to rent a property in France.

Paris has previously been the most sought-after destination on the Airbnb platform. But, earlier this year, the southern Var département knocked the capital off the top slot.

But increasingly the platform has moved away from people renting out their homes for short periods and towards those running it as a holiday business, which has in turn pushed up house prices for locals, particularly in cities such as Paris.

This has prompted officials to act, with rules limiting how and for how long you can rent out your home.

Most of these rules are set by local authorities, so vary from place to place.

Key rules

Register your home with local authorities

Most towns and cities in France now have a registration procedure for any person who wants to rent out an entire tourist-furnished accommodation (as opposed to renting our your spare room while you remain in the property).

This procedure is free and only takes a few minutes to complete. You must obtain a registration number from your city hall’s website and include it on your Airbnb listing before you start hosting.

Taxable earnings

Income from renting property on Airbnb may be declarable and taxable as micro-BIC income. Handily, Airbnb offers a guide to what taxes you need to consider if renting out a property in France.

As a general rule, income from holiday letting your property should be declared for tax, but income from occasionally renting out part of your main residence is exempt from tax and does not have to be declared as long as the amount earned is less than €760 per year.

And don’t think you can get away with not declaring your income. Airbnb is obliged to send rental details directly to the taxman to save you the bother of doing it yourself. 

Taxe de séjour

Income tax is not the end of it. Numerous French cities have an agreement with Airbnb to collect the tourist tax – taxe de séjour – which means that Airbnb properties in the capital are now classed under the rental category of furnished lets or meublés touristiques non-classés

That, in turn, means that Airbnb adds up to €4.40 per person per night to the cost of a stay. Taxe de séjour levels for towns and cities across France are available here, but this tax is dealt with entirely by Airbnb.

Added tax on second homes

Many areas popular with tourists are suffering from a housing shortage for locals as businesses buy up vacant properties to rent out on Airbnb.

In an attempt to combat this, a number of communes have taken advantage of a law that allows them to impose a surtaxe de la taxe d’habitation which can amount to an extra 60 percent on part of the tax.

The law allows towns with more than 50,000 residents to apply an annual surtaxe of between 5 percent and 60 percent if they are in zones where there is a housing imbalance with more people looking for homes than homes available. This affects all second homes in the area, whether or not you rent them out on Airbnb.

The list of towns using the surtaxe system for second homes is available here.

Max rental allowance

Under French law, homeowners can sub-let their main residence as a short-term let for a maximum of 120 days a year and must to seek permission from the local authority to do so. 

So anyone wishing to list their French property on Airbnb must first register it with the authorities and display their registration number on their listing. 

Airbnb has said it will automatically limit rentals on its site to 120 days in central Paris and the government has also announced plans to fine Airbnb for publishing listings that are not registered with the local authorities.

Sub-letting a rented property

You can’t do it. If you get found out, you’ll get into legal bother and could face a big fine, as well as being made to hand over any earnings to your landlord. So, just don’t.

Local rules

All of the above is complicated by the fact some cities – including Paris – have imposed their own rules to curb the influence of Airbnb on the short-term holiday rental market.

If you’re planning to let out your home on Airbnb, check what rules may apply with your local mairie.

Paris

Paris authorities have fought a lengthy legal battle with Airbnb, which they accuse of being a major factor in pricing locals out of central Paris.

While the city lost some aspects of the legal case, tougher rules are in place in the capital.

It is illegal, for instance, to offer a second home for rent on the popular site. Do so, and you risk a fine of €50,000 per room. The ban on subletting rented accommodation means that only people who own their own home in Paris can rent it out, and then only for a limited period.

The full details for Paris are available here

Additionally, if you live near Disneyland Paris, keep in mind that local officials voted on a series of restrictions for seasonal rentals, namely those with Booking, Abritel, and Airbnb that will go into effect starting in 2023. 

Please note that this is intended as a guide only and does not constitute legal advice. 

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MONEY

Cutting back and applying for benefits: How the weak pound has impacted Brits living in France

In recent weeks, the pound has become weaker when compared to other currencies, namely the euro. This has made life more complicated for Brits living in France. The Local asked readers to share their experiences - and advice - for others who find themselves in the same situation.

Cutting back and applying for benefits: How the weak pound has impacted Brits living in France

While the pound is still low when compared to other currencies, it has recovered somewhat since its drop after the British Chancellor’s mini-budget.

As of October 5th, the exchange rate was £1 to €1.14. For British people living in France who receive income in pounds sterling – whether they be pensioners or others with financial interests still in the UK – the drop in the pound’s value has had negative impacts.

The Local reached out to readers to hear how they have been affected by the exchange rate. Many offered their tips for navigating the current economic landscape.

Many readers found life still affordable, but expected to be more severely impacted in the future. Retiree A. Wood, who lives in Haute Vienne, said that “The recent drop in the value of the pound will not immediately affect me. If it remains low for more than a year then maybe I will have to do some calculating.”

Pensioners especially said that life in France had become “more expensive” and “costlier” for them, but being aware of price rises and managing the changes “with care” were plausible solutions for the time-being.

In general residents of France are better protected from inflation than many other European nations, thanks to government initiatives such as energy price caps and fuel rebates, but prices for many everyday items such as food have been rising steadily.

One respondent, Nigel Harrison, a retired former business consultant, said that weak pound has “not made life unaffordable, but worrying.” 

Meanwhile, some readers, all of whom are also retired, said that they were starting to feel more serious impacts of the exchange rate.

Retired librarian and micro entrepreneur, Pat Hallam, who has been living in Paris for the last two years, said that she receives her career pension in pounds, which she later transfers into euros by way of her French bank account.

She explained that she already works to supplement the cost of life in Paris, but now she expects to have to take on extra work.

She expects to also “cut back on things like socialising, eating out and culture.”

“Explaining this to friends will be hard, and it is what makes living in Paris a pleasure. I know the cost of living would be cheaper in other parts of France, but I’ve spent the last 2 years building a life in Paris, my dream destination. I would be very disappointed if events across the Channel forced me to move away, or even back to the UK,” she said.

READ MORE: The best banks for non-EU citizens living in France

Pat is not alone – Tom Baker, who is retired and lives in south-west France – said, “All my pensions are from the UK and the drop in exchange is definitely felt, coupled with the loss on transferring the money to France as I have five pensions.”

Baker explained that having his income drop has been particularly difficult “as a 74 year old with two young sons aged seven and 10” and amid “the present financial climate the cost of everything is spiralling.” 

Many readers said they would try to live on savings while waiting for the value of the pound to rise again, which has also posed its own problems, as many British bank accounts have begun closing the accounts of non-UK residents. 

John Stanley Mumford found himself in this situation, he said: “I have a pension in pounds. I will live on savings until the value of pound goes up! But, Barclays bank is to close my account as I am a French resident, so basically I’m stuffed!”

READ MORE: Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in France

Non-pensioners have also felt the impacts of a weak pound. One respondent discussed the dilemma of attempting to sell their UK home, and worrying about whether they should leave the money in pounds or transfer it to Euros afterwards. Others worried about their UK savings accounts.

Respondents did offer helpful advice for others in similar positions – ranging from tips to try to hold out for a better exchange rate to recommendations for how to become thriftier – like getting rid of unused streaming services and cutting back generally. 

Tom Baker said he recommends transferring funds “perhaps every three months to reduce the cost of transfer fees, which since Brexit have really increased.”

He also said that he checks the daily rate “for a week or 10 days before the transfer is needed to try and get a better each rate.” Others said if possible – wait until the pound recovers.

However, for those unable to hold out until the pound is stronger, several readers recommended apps and international banking services, such as Wise and Revolut as handy ways to find better exchange rates and avoid high fees when transferring between a UK bank and a French one. 

Finally, Pat Hallam counselled Brits living in France to consider applying for welfare benefits if necessary. She said even if you’ve never considered it, “either out of pride or because you didn’t think you were eligible, maybe now’s the time to look again.”

She also recommended tracking energy use more carefully via a smart metre: it “takes three months’ use before you can start comparing consumption but it helps keep track of your energy use.”

READ MORE: Living in France: How to cut your household energy use by 10% this winter

Many thanks to everyone who took part in our survey and shared their experiences and tips.

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