Renting Property in the Alps, advice and tips

Virtually all the properties we sell are sold freehold and there will not be any restrictions on renting, in fact gaining a rental return is an essential part of many peoples requirements.

As far as renting via an agency is concerned there are many to choose from. It really depends on which town you are considering. Much of what I have written below is Portes du Soleil biased, this is where I work!

There are a number rental options, each with advantages and disadvantages. They are not all available to all properties! I will list them as I see them. The first offers lowest risk for least return, the balance moves from return to risk as you descend the list!

apartment for sale in Les Carroz

Renting Options

OPTION 1a. You can choose to rent your apartment on a yearly basis, for a fixed fee to a company that specialises in self-catering holidays. You can negotiate some weeks for yourself or you can negotiate a discount for weeks you want to rent.

Example: Alptitude, a specialist in Morzine
http://www.alptitude.com/index.php?page=page0&season=winter&lang=en

Advantages:

  • Most secure form of rental return
  • If you choose the tenant carefully they will look after the property well, dealing with maintenance issues, taxes, Internet etc.
  • Minimum input from the owner

Disadvantages

  • Offers the lowest returns
  • Property will need to be in a good location, this type of company will see that as a priority.

OPTION 1b. Similar to the option above but with a little more risk. There are some companies that specialise in finding long term lets aimed at “saisonniers”, so people who rent for the whole season. You will need to check the tenants in at the start of the season and out at the end but beyond that it should be hassle free.

Example: Live The Season,  http://livetheseason.com/owner.html

Advantages:

  • Full Seasons income paid before the season starts.
  • Higher return than 1a (annual lets)
  • Minimum input from the owner
  • Location of the property is less critical than the option 1a.

Disadvantages

  • Higher returns are available with the options below.
  • No time in the winter for the owner to use the property.
  • Unless there is a provision to periodically check on the state of the rental there is a risk the tenants might not look after the property.

apartment for sale in Les Gets

OPTION 2. You can use one of the independent chalet operators in the area, these companies often have one chalet that they run catered holidays from and then up to a dozen they arrange as self-catering. This type of company will often try to negotiate a percentage  fee (up to 30%), for this they will arrange the booking, key holding and the cleaning etc.

Example: The Great Escape

http://www.thegreatescapemorzine.co.uk/accommodation-morzine.htm

Example: Chalet des Fleurs
http://www.mountainhighs.co.uk/self-catered-holidays-morzine-avoriaz.html

Example: Ski Fusion (based in Les Carroz)

http://www.skifusion.co.uk

Advantages

  • There may be the occasional unbooked week that could be used by the owner for a cheap holiday at the last-minute.
  • More flexibility for booking in friends etc.
  • If there are good bookings this can offer better returns than choice 1

Disadvantages

  • Riskier for the owner as they don’t offer any rental guarantees, this risk can be reduced by choosing an established company.

OPTION 3. You can use an Internet based agent who will handle all the booking and cleaning, in theory for a lower percentage fee (20%-35%)

Example: White Peak a specialist in Chatel. http://www.white-peak.com/

Example: Alps Accommodation a specialist in Samoens. http://www.alpsaccommodation.com/

Example: Holiday in the Alps a specialist in renting properties in St Gervais http://www.holidayinalps.com/

Holiday Lettings has lots of advice on the subject. http://www.holidaylettings.co.uk/resources/owner_advice/a-1/

Advantages

  • There may be the occasional unbooked week that could be used by the owner for a cheap holiday at the last-minute.
  • More flexibility for booking in friends etc.
  • If there are good bookings this can offer better returns than choice 2
  • Internet based administration can be convenient

Disadvantages

  • Riskier for the owner as they don’t offer any rental guarantees, this risk can be reduced by choosing an established company.
  • If the agency does not care about your property the wear and tear can be quite high. This can depend on their clientèle too.
  • Choose your Internet based agent carefully, they can be excellent but there is more room here for cowboys.

apartment for sale in Chatel

OPTION 4. You could use an Internet based “Bulletin Board”, these businesses charge a fee for you to advertise, you handle the booking and arrange cleaning and key holding via a local person or agency. My Mum uses Owners Direct for a property on the outskirts of Morzine, it costs about £200/an to advertise, she does very well and uses a local girl for the cleaning etc. This method is a lot of work for the my Mum and offers no guaranteed income but it can offer the best returns. In addition the renter can’t book with a credit card and  they are not booking with a recognised “agent” or “bonded holiday company” so they don’t have much backup if the holiday goes wrong in some way (for instance in the case of a double-booking).

Examples:

http://www.chaletfinder.co.uk/
http://www.ownersdirect.co.uk/

Advantages

  • There may be the occasional unbooked week that could be used by the owner for a cheap holiday at the last minute.
  • More flexibility for booking in friends etc.
  • If there are good bookings this can offer better returns than choice 3
  • More “hands on” can be more fun and it may give the owner the chance to “vet” the occupiers.

Disadvantages

  • Riskier for the owner as there are no rental guarantees.
  • The owner will have to find local people to deal with the changeovers / cleaning and any problems.
  • If there are problems or damage the owner might be called upon to arbitrate, this can be difficult on the phone!

OPTION 5. The traditional method, use one of the local French estate agents or the local Tourist Information Bureau , they will take a fee (about 25%) and handle the bookings and cleaning for you. This should probably be put between 2 and 3 in the income VS risk list.

Advantages

  • An established system, will probably be entirely legal.
  • Local agents normally have very good contacts with local tradesmen.
  • You may find that a particular agent will have an affiliation with a particular apartment block, this can help.

Disadvantages

  • No guarantees though, the owner will take all the risk. You will do better in the best locations. You might get nothing in a bad location!
  • Just because the agent has good contacts with local tradesmen it does not mean any maintenance work will come cheap.
  • Choose wisely, not all agents are fully Internet or email aware yet, this can come as a shock.

Confused about renting? You shouldn’t be. I am just illustrating how this is a very mature market and that there are a lot of options open to you.