Letting someone stay while you're away - problematic?

We have a French friend who may be ‘between homes’ for a period over the winter. She could stay in our place - rent free, since we’re not set up to rent the place out, and don’t really want to do that anyway - but are there likely to be any other issues, legal or otherwise, that make it a bad idea? I am of course assuming she won’t abuse the privilege.

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House sitter :wink:
If you do it through one of the sites, some of them cover the house sitter for the duration of the sitting through their own insurance.

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You can do so freely, but should tell your insurers if your friend is not a relative.

Your friend should declare that she has free lodging to impôts and if she gets benefits they could be affected. And if you are not there on 1st January and your friend is, then legally your friend pays taxe d’habitation not you!

You are allowed to ask for a contribution to eg electricity without it becoming a formal rental that means your friends starts to have tenancy rights (which you really don’t want ! )

To be sure it would be an idea to draw up an agreement between you just in case it goes awry. Which gives a proposed duration.

Thanks for the advice Griffin, Jane. We’ll see how things go.

‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’ … just be careful you are not taken advantage of.


I find that comment interesting. Are you sure about this?

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Personally, I don’t think I would. Some reasons…
It’s “your” space.
Your goodwill is leaving you open to abuse ( bill paying, damage etc)
You might want to visit your own property during your "friends " stay

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@Ancient_Mariner, call me sceptical but are you perhaps being taken advantage of?
Is your French friend someone you have known for a long time or someone you have got to know since buying your house?
Did you make the offer or during conversation did they lead you to a point where you felt you should make the offer?
If they have nowhere else to live currently what’s to say that will change when you want to return?
If they are local then surely they will know where there are places to stay or are they thinking a freebie is on here with the English newcomers?
Sorry if my questions are misplaced.

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Our French friend has not asked. She was our estate agent when we bought, and worked hard on our behalf after the sale to help us, even though she wasn’t getting paid to do so. We’ve eaten with her family. She needs a good local reputation, and abusing an offer like that would harm that.

So although it can be hard to know for sure, I’d be surprised if we were badly taken advantage of.

Thanks for the input and concern. :+1:t3:


If you are going to offer to let her use it, maybe put a time limit - one month? saying you are considering using your property at whatever date.


I would defo underline a date on a calendar to make it perfectly clear you expected her to be gone by that date.

Assuming you have a Linky meter you can specify that whatever it clocks up from start [snip and paste] to finish is hers to pay, and any other utilities billed regularly.

Come the day, you could extend her stay if all had been going perfectly.

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I generally like to trust people unless big signal not to. Most people are good in my experience, with just a few shits who spoil it for everyone else.

People think we’re nuts not to demand a damage deposit for the gîte, but in 13 years not one person has abused this deliberately. (Things like teenage girls ruining all our towels with hair dye I put down to being teenage girls, and the parents not having looked at the towels)

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I have been in a vaguely similar situation which did turn out badly and took lawyers to resolve. You really need to document this if you make the offer and others here may know better how to do this in France. Your point about the friend being an estate agent can be read another way; she probably knows property law better than you and her reputation will trump yours if it goes wrong and local people take sides. Sorry but its just irresponsible to do otherwise; upside is wam feeling for helping out, downside is time, energy, resources to get your house back, totally asymmetric.


I once lent a very very close relative a rather substantial amount of money, on the basis that I trusted them and their word. The end result was that I never saw that money again unfortunately. Since then I vowed to never expose myself to a similar situation again. A simple act of kindness can often lead to very difficult and rather painful outcomes. Oh yes, and the same very very close relative stayed in a house I owned for a ‘short term’ aid, rent free. Four years later they finally left and I received the house back in a far worse state than when they originally occupied it. So now I offer my time to folks in need of help, and very willingly give that, but that’s where I now draw the line. A little sad as it has certainly affected my views on the subject of ‘lending’.


I am afraid I would not even consider letting a stranger or even someone I knew use my holiday home (if I were in the same boat as the OP). You don’t know anyone that well unless you are married to them and people can turn just like that. Supposing they start to let other people also stay with them!!


That’s sad.

I have luckily not had such a bad experience.

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Yes, indeed, it was a very sad moment, but I like to see the positive side in almost everything, and I guess ultimately it’s only money, but the experience does jaundice one somewhat,especially given the fact it was a very very close relative. Do we ever really know people??

What a thoughful & intelligent reply covering virtually all possible pitfalls in my opinion. I can just add one more. Should your friend, for any reason, decline to leave after a set date you could become faced with a dilemma. You can’t physically force her out or, I believe, withold the key or eject her possessions !
Your recourse, I believe, is in civil law as she cannot be regarded as a squatter under the new French squatter law. The possible trouble, inconvience is the cost to having her ejected . Firstly there is your very expensive mouthwatering advocat professional fees. Then after waiting often months to secure a Court hearing and assuming an eviction order is granted there are the Huissier fees. Some might be recoverable if you can trace your “friend” and she is solvent!

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Not to mention any damage to property and fittings that could occur as we have all seen on the TV.

TV shows love finding disaster stories and making then sound as if that is what always happens!!

We lent a friend €35000 after his partner committed suicide so he could sort out his life as they had not planned for this. We let a Romanian couple stay in our place in London for 9 months. Both worked out fine in the end and so nothing to sell to a TV company.

A simple written agreement between the parties should suffice