So, what is it really like to run a gite business. How do you spend your time? Unfortunately it's not all sunshine and aperitifs.
Key tasks that will occupy your time include:
Ongoing repairs and maintenance
You will need to perform a reasonable amount of repairs and maintenance on the properties when they are empty. Properties being rented out for part of the year seem to suffer more wear and tear than 'normal' properties do in a year.
Running a gite business that may include several rental properties can involve a reasonable amount of work!
You will find that sofas etc get rather worn and grubby as children lie on them covered in ice cream and sun-cream lotion.
There are two key times to check over the properties:
1) When the last visitors have left at the end of the summer season
2) When you reopen the house in the spring. Allow at least two or three weeks before the first guests are due to arrive, so if you need to call a plumber or electrician it is not too late.
People will have treated the appliances more roughly than you would, and forgotten to put salt tablets in the dishwasher. Little leaks and loose sockets will need repairing, tiles re-grouting, paint retouching and so on. This can be significant if you have several properties.
Note that if you have a few properties you will need to have a 'rolling cycle of renewal' - ie each year, choose one or two rooms in each property to paint and generally freshen up, if you want to keep them all nice - it isn't practical (or very appealing for customers) if you leave them all untouched for five years while grubby handprints slowly cover the walls.
We try and 'live' in each property for a couple of days, as the best way of finding all the little problems - missing cutlery, blocked sinks, mice in the attic and so on that don't always show up from a quick investigation.
Swimming pool problems are reasonably common - chemical imbalances or problems with the pump for example. These need immediate attention.
Grass cutting and gardening play a large role in running gites!
See the most important section of all...making sure you have a successful business in France