What do you do with your rentals off season

Do you put your rental properties to good use out of season?

What suggestions do you have for those rentals sitting idle during the winter months, how do you make them pay?

Hello, I have a two pronged approach for the gites I manage at www.HolidayMoulin.co.uk

We have been full from just before Easter this year and am just taking the last few weeks of bookings for the October break - so a pretty good length season - we rent perhaps 80pc of our Summer time weeks with www.TotstoTravel.co.uk who specialise in holidays for babies and small children - so they are not tied to school holidays. In the spirit of full disclosure I am also a holiday lettings expert for Tots to Travel.

For the November through Easter dates I use places like www.sabbaticalhomes.com and get a few months bookings from Americans / Canadians / Australians who want to ‘drop out’ for a few months - it keeps the place lived in and safe too. Also trawling the local website forums for people relocating down here whilst they look for a place to buy or long term rent.

www.golanguedoc.com have a section on long term rentals too.

If anybody is interested in knowing more about what I do and order a free book on how to niche market your property have a look at my site www.villaownerslanguedoc.com


It’s a bit off the point, but I may be looking to rent a place in the Lyon area for 3-6 months starting within next 2 weeks, depending on whether I get the job. 1-2 bedrooms fully furnished is what I would need. Somewhere close in the country would be nice, as that is what I am used to. Wood heater would be fine too and wood supply could be negotiable. I know how to use chainsaw and block splitter, so could help there. If you have something suitable, please get in touch.

We close - we are on tempo tariff and the gites use electricity for hot water heating and convectors so not a good option for winter letting even with the wood stoves… Also we have had enough of letting by the time October comes and look forward to hibernating and enjoying the property by ourselves. We do the maintenance during this period too. The price you can charge for winter lets just doesn’t make it economical.

Personally I think you will have had enough of guests by the end of the summer and you need a break after all its not all about making pots of money which you will not in any case in the winter from rentals I think for the little you make and the extra wear and tear on your property its not worth it if you can do as jules thackway suggested move into the gite and save on the real enemy keeping your own house warm

Just a few ideas to add to your discussions:

  • find out from builders if any customers need short term rental whilst their house is being built.
  • find out from estate agents if customer need winter cover whilst renovating in the area: when we rebuilt our ruin, we had to rent as we waited for the roof and electricity to be done.
    It’s really hard to get rental in France if your don’t have 3x salary because the landlord can’t throw you out easily but “meublé” come under different rules. You can set up a 6 month rental contract if the property is furnished.
  • run some themed week-end, run intensive immersion courses: French people are keen to learn English and some companies would pay for immersion courses.
  • run cooking classes: get a local lady to help you set up a “cooking foie gras for Christmas” course!

As someone that may rent in France this winter how much are we talking in regard to electricity costs for heating?

Yes it is very hard to rent out in the winter months, as Catherine says, you can only take for a month what you would take for a week in high season, we have a woodburner but it’s not enough so have back up electric (oil fired) heaters, luckily we have separate electric and water meters, so that’s not a problem (unless they don’t believe you at the end of the stay and won’t pay), I show them the reading when they arrive and when they leave, if I do do letting this winter, I will be asking for a higher deposit which will cover most of their bills when they leave, depending how long of course.

The other issue is the wood, as you all know it’s so expensive, and really get fed up with wheeling barrowloads full of wood every day,(the gite is next to us) they don’t want to pay hardly anything for it, but if they go out and buy they would probably get through a bag and more a day and that is expensive! Depending how long people are here for, I would prefer for them to buy their own wood and pile it in the barn so they can come and go themselves to fill up, (trust is needed here). In saying that though, there is hardly anyone buying over here now, so different to a few years ago when people would stay for 3 months!

So not too sure whether to close up for winter or not, but being the walls are so thick, it benefits for the gite to be used so it doesn’t get damp.

We have bookings up until the end of October. Once we have waved goodbye to our last guests, we will close down our main house and live in the Gite. The money we save on heating and electricity is almost like having somebody renting the Gite for four months in the Winter.

I agree that heating is a problem as everyone wants to rent at knock down prices out of high season but the price of heating means you either rent at a breakeven point or at risk of a loss. I find that if heating is included in the price the clients tend to run the heating on full 24/7. We have a duck factory in our town that recruit heavily from october to end December and I sometimes rent my gites to their workers but take only per month what I take weekly in high season. This at least give me some income whilst ensuring that the acccommodation is not left empty during the cold months. For the Chambres d’hôtes I still get some enquiries (always the french) but very few so offer themed weekends such as murder weekends; well being weekends etc., But it’s not easy.

I have had a few couples renting who are looking for homes in the area but the problem has been heating. May install woodburners into the gites then it would be much easier to let them in the winter.

It appears to me gîte owners have 3 choices:

  1. Close the property down for the 6 months or so of winter.
  2. Seek a long-term winter let at a knock-down price.
  3. Actively seek out of seasons holiday lets.

I think being creative with your marketing out of season is the way forward, but clearly this depends on individual circumstances.