Owning and Running Chambres d'Hôtes or Self-catering Gîtes in France

Information on the legal obligations of B&B, <em><strong>gîte</strong></em> and <em>chambre d'hote and </em>self-catering accommodation owners in France...

When opening a bed and breakfast (chambre d'hôte) or self-catering accommodation (gîte) in France, the owner is bound by certain legal and tax obligations. Except for some chambres d'hôtes, for French residents these will generally involve the registration of a business. As this is a potentially complex area, advice from a lawyer or a suitably-qualified accountant should be sought.

Business Registration - LMP or LMNP

A business will need to be registered at the local CFE (see the guide Starting a Business in France in the left hand side menu)

Depending on the precise nature of the business, it may be considered as professional letting (in which case it will need to be registered with the Chambre de Commerce and listed on the RCS) or not, in which case simple business registration is enough. In French, these are Location Meublée Professionnelle or LMP and Location Meublée Non Professionnelle or LMNP respectively.

There are additional charges associated with being an LMP, but also certain tax advantages.

  • From 2009, LMP is restricted to those whose expected annual income from rentals is over €23,000 and the income from rentals represents more than 50 percent of total income (previously, it was or)
  • LMNP status is restricted to those whose expected annual income from rentals is under €23,000 or the income from rentals represents less than 50 percent of total income

Tax Exemptions

Until the end of 2008, property owners were exempt from tax on income of two types of furnished property rental:

  • Where the rented space within the owner's home was the tenant's primary residence, and the rent was set at a reasonable rate (2008: €167 per year per square metre of habitable space in the Ile de France, €221 elsewhere)
  • Where the income and taxes of the space rented (by day, week or month) did not exceed a fixed rate (2008: €760 per year)

These exemptions no longer apply.

Chambre d'Hôte

A chambre d'hôte may have no more than five bedrooms and accommodate at most 15 guests. It offers:

  • Furnished accommodation
  • With linen provided, and the room cleaned
  • On a night-by night basis
  • With breakfast included in the price

Registration and owner obligations

The owner of a chambre d'hôte must make a declaration of registration at the Mairie of the town or village in which it is located in order to obtain permission to open (if done by mail this should be send by recorded delivery). The declaration should include:

  • Proof of owner/occupier's identity
  • Proof of address
  • Available number of rooms
  • Maximum number of people that can be accommodated at a time
  • Intended periods of operation (year round or seasonal)

The obligations for the owner of a chambre d'hôte are to:

  • Declare to French tax authorities any income generated from renting out holiday accommodation (irrespective of their country of residence)
  • Ensure that the balconies, terraces, stairways, electrical installations and swimming pools meet legal requirements
  • Obtain the appropriate licence for a Chambre d'Hôte to serve meals
  • Ensure that the property is fully insured, appropriate to the type of activity
    • For further information concerning insurance contact the Centre de documentation et d'information de l'assurance (CDIA) via the Fédération Française des sociétés d'assurances (FFSA): Click here (in French)

A chambre d'hôte is exempt from registration as a professional operation providing that ALL the following apply:

  • There are not more than five bedrooms, for no more than 15 guests and
  • The expected annual income from rentals is under €23,000 and
  • The income from rentals represents less than 50 percent of total income

Note: If there are more rooms, or a greater number of guests can be accommodated, the owner of the establishment is classed as a "professional of the hotel trade" or "professional innkeeper", or an Etablissement Recevant du Public (ERP) which means that certain laws have to be respected concerning fire risks and access for the disabled.

Relevant Terminology

Chambre d'Hôte (bed and breakfast)

A Chambre d'Hôte is a bedroom inside the property owner's home or, occasionally, in a building next to it. The room is rented by the night and includes breakfast.

A Chambre d'Hôte with Table d'Hôte classification means that meals may be eaten with the host family, there may be no more clients than the family can lodge and the meal served must be the same for everyone. This is not a "restaurant".

Self-catering gîte

A gîte or gîte rural is a house, cottage or self-contained accommodation available to rent for a few days, a weekend, weekly or a period of several weeks. The changeover day on weekly lets is usually Saturday.

It has to be independent from the owner's house and must have the following facilities:

  • A furnished lounge and dining area
  • A kitchen or kitchen area, with a cooker, refrigerator, sink, table and chairs, a cupboard and necessary kitchen utensils
  • Indoor toilets
  • A bathroom with basin and shower
  • At least one separate bedroom with a bed and furniture
  • Some outside space (a garden, terrace or parking area)

Bed linen and towels may be provided, as may a cleaning service. These may also be made available to guests on request, for a supplementary fee.

Guests may provide their own bed linen and towels and must clean the gîte at the end of their stay.

For further information contact:

The Gîtes de France Organisation

Gîtes de France was created in 1955 to enable town dwellers to go on holiday to other towns and rural areas and small farmers to supplement their income by renting out buildings on their property. The Fédération Nationale des Gîtes de France is a non-profit organisation, sponsored by the government and providing a liaison service between owners and renters.

Before a rental property may display the official Gîte de France emblem, it must satisfy certain standards established by the Fédération which rates the gîtes by ears of corns (épis) from one to five. All Gîtes de France accommodation is inspected regularly by local Gîtes de France representatives. Each address is given an ear-of-corn classification according to its setting, amenities, comfort and services. The rating is reviewed at least once every five years. The accommodation is inspected in the event of a complaint.

A gîte owner who wants their property to be listed in a specialist guide book, needs to register with an association such as Gîtes de France (this is a paying service which can entitle its members to benefit from some financial help), Clevacances or Fleurs de Soleil.

Panda, The Nature Gîte

Two hundred and eighty rural gîtes affiliated to the Gîtes de France network display the "Panda" label. Awarded since 1993 in association with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), it indicates rural holiday accommodation in protected and unspoiled natural surroundings. Owners must provide their guests with binoculars and information on the local nature (flora and fauna). They must also manage their gîtes with consideration to the conservation of the environment.

Location Saisonnières (Furnished holiday rentals)

Location saisonnière or meublé de tourisme is a furnished villa, studio or apartment rented out for a day, a week, or a month. The owner of the holiday rental or the agency has to present a document (état des lieux) stating the condition and listing the contents of the property, which must include the following:

  • The name and address of the owner or the agency
  • A full description of the rental

A written contract has to be drawn up with a description of the property and the price. Failure to comply with these rules can result in a fine.

A meublé de tourisme can receive a rating from one to five stars, according to the level of comfort provided. To qualify for a rating, a form must be filled in at the local Mairie (Town Hall). The rating procedure is carried out by the Regional Tourism Committee (Comité départemental de Tourisme) or a similar organisation. A re-assessment of the property is carried out every five years.

With contribution by Joanna Reintjes, Account Revision Chartered Accountants, Registered Auditors Centre d'Affairs du Château de Launay-Quéro BP 66217, 35162 Montfort-sur-Meu CEDEX Tel: 02 99 09 12 08