Monday, 1 October 2007

Busy Bees .....

..... That's what we are at the moment.

With only 9 days to go before we sign for our apartment, and our first guests move in (!), we have a list of things to finalise.

Linens

Bought all the bathroom towels, kitchen linens and basic bedding at Monteleone at Beziers. Cost a cool 300+ euro but we needed to choose a good quality basic set for two people, with a full set of duplicates for renewal each week of a booking. That's what most curistes choose!

Other Bedding, etc

Will have to go to Ikea to get the pillows and protectors, and duvets and covers - all French sizes. Most French will use the sheets and a blanket, but English guests nowadays like to have the duvet option.

Insurance

This must be in place before we can sign the final papers at the Notaire.

Signed on the dotted line today with AXA in Bedarieux - who do all our own insurance, and where LeeLee worked during last summer for her stage. It cost 156 euro for full public liability, no franchise and 'new for old' on all electrical equipment under 5 years old. Great value we thought!

The insurance is for 'seasonal rentals' (max 9 months of the year) rather than for long-term lets (9+months). However the curiste season is a straight 9 months, so any extra winter 'seasonal' bookings we hope to get will put us over. If this happens, we just need to go back to AXA and get a special extension.

Chèques Vacances

The current owner of the apartment recommended we sign up for these. A lot of people in France get given these as part of their employment package (a bit like luncheon vouchers but for holidays!) and if you accept them, you open up your potential market wider. Many 'remote' owners do not accept them.

The down side is that they take a set percentage of the rent, and there is a delay in them paying you. But we took on her recommendation (she is a VERY successful landlady) and have started filling in the application form.

One question - not sure if it is possible since we are a not a 'company'.

Taxe de Séjour

This is payable by every guest at a rate of .34 euro per day per person. We picked up the special 'book' you have to have from the Tourist Office in Lamalou. There are three copies required - one for you, one for the guests and one to give to the Bureau des Impots with the money when you declare your income.

Utilities

Curistes pay for all electricity and water above a certain amount, so you have to read the meters before and after each booking - in the presence of the guests and get them to sign to confirm they agree. The current owner stressed that we should be strict about this because they ALWAYS argue that 'they are sure the meters are going round too fast'!

We therefore had to buy a special pad of numbered paper that provides three copies of each number.

Took three trips to the papeterie until we found them open after lunch! That's France for you!!

Telephones (1)

A telephone is really needed in the apartment for curistes (they tend to be in ill health you know!) so we want to install a phone that takes a phone card - purchased at any tabac.

Spoke to the France Telecom 'help line' but did not get very far - so will trawl the internet.

Telephones (2)

We want to be able to receive faxes (we 'send' through the PC) but also to be able to record clear answerphone messages. Unfortunately, these are mutually exclusive on the systems we have at the moment.

So we want to install a new telephone line to our house, move our current telephone number to this line (with the answer machine) and use the current line with a new number for our current PC-based fax system.

France Telecom's comment........Er?! What?!


Oh well, I am sure there are many other things we need to do...............will keep you posted!

3 comments:

Lesley said...

What a lot to get organised before the start! At least once it is up and running, things should get into a rhythym. Good luck with it all
Lesley

Gogus said...

Wow, i take it that you are going to be doing the rental bookings, change overs and paperwork yourselves rather use a management agency? Sounds like a challange particularly the paperwork.
Do you think you can generate enough bookings, are you advertising on the web? The one we are buying was previously rented out by the owner and advertised in the tourist Info mag but i dont know what other advertising if any was used. As we won't be able to look after it we are hopeing an agency will take control of it for us. When we move over due to the new health rules it may be an idea for us to create a company to look after any rental properties we have so that we are able to make contrabutions to the social security / health system. ( so many questions). Hope all goes well with your purchase and your first guests are happy.
Carol & John

Jacqui U said...

Lesley:

We are SO lucky to have Mdme Daniel, the current owner! She is very very helpful and any questions - she always knows the answer!
She has it all down to a fine art and has given us copies of everything she uses - I am in the process of setting them up in English and French at this very moment!

Gogus:

We are certainly not going to use a Management Company - we would just be giving them money for very little!

It does not in fact entail much once you are all set up:

1.Meeting the guests, getting them to sign a couple of forms and handing over the keys.
2. Going back each week if they want the linen changed weekly (they pay for this extra!).
3. Being on call if anything goes wrong.
4. Going back on their last day with the bill, checking the property with them, taking their money (!) and getting a couple of forms signed.
5. Clean the property and wash the linen (which the guests pay for!).
6. Send deposit back within a month!

For curistes, most of the business comes through the Tourist Office, so we speak to them each week to tell them about our vacancies.

I am setting up a web site (blog style because it is so easy!) in English and French - but this will primarily be to attract Winter guests (probably English).

It is invaluable to 'know' other people with apartments in Lamalou because it is very much - if I cannot accomodate them, I know someone who can!

The bookings we already have, came from an owner who shuts down from mid October (which we will not), and also another one who did not have a ground floor apartment suitable for a wheelchair - which we have.

I will send you an e-mail so you know what we can provide as a service - and see if it compares (favourably or not!) with the Management Companies!