Before to contract, make sure the information about the rental
If you deal with a private person, verify the owner's contact details: contact him by telephone, preferably on their landline. Have a fixed mailing address for sending the contract (beware of PO boxes). Write your deposit check in the name of the lessor. You can also request to pay by bank transfer. Renters are asked to respect a code of "savoir vivre" on holiday.
Take much information as possible about the situation of the holiday rental. Verify especially the address using Google map, Mappy or any other provider of plans.
Sign a contract in 2 copies (sample of contract).
A description shall be attached to the rental agreement and must include much information as possible. A model in accordance with legislation is available here. Take a screenshot of the holiday rental website and print it. It may be attached to the rental agreement. If the information contained in the description is inaccurate, the owner or his representative may be ordered to pay a fine (see the regulation on seasonal rentals).
"Arrhes" or "acompte" ? Money is paid by the renter signing the contract to confirm the reservation (20 to 30% of total rental). Ask that this sum is credited to the contract as “arrhes” and not as “acompte”.
A “acompte” is a binding commitment: even if you can not occupy the holiday rental, the owner may demand full payment of the stay.
L“Arrhes” allow you to cancel the reservation without paying the all price of the stay. The deposit remains acquired by the owner as a compensation for damages because he has to find a new renter. If this is the lessor who breaks the contract, he must pay to the renter twice the amount of deposit (see the regulation on seasonal rentals). Additional compensation can possibly be claimed by the renter as a compensation for damages (additional expenses, transport tickets canceled, etc.).
Insurance : You can take a special "holiday" insurance that covers you in case of non-conformity, cancellation, damages, etc.
Arriving in the rental
In case of non-conformity with the description, you can negotiate directly with the landlord an amicable solution : price reduction, extension of the stay, change of holiday rental or repayment. If this negotiation fails or if the landlord is not on site, collect evidence of non-compliance: photos, movies, testimonies.
If the noncompliance is significant and threat your stay, you can make a observation by a bailiff within 3 days of arrival. Send a certified mail with return receipt to the renter asking him to repair, in default of which you will turn to Direction Départementale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes . Tell the owner that you plan to enter the district court to initiate legal action.
A tourist tax is required by most seaside municipalities to finance tourism development. This tax of variable amount is to be paid by the renter. The renter reverses it to the city Receiver.
Electricity, water, heating: If charges are not included in the rental price, be sure to take a readout from counters on your arrival in the presence of the owner or his representative and to note the amounts in the description of the rental. A new statement will be made with the landlord at the time of your departure.
The Security Deposit: Upon entering the rental, the landlord may request a security deposit, amount generally between 30 and 50% of rental sum. This sum is intended to finance any damage suffered by the rental during your stay. When the deposit is made by check, the landlord has the right to cash it immediately. Make sure to have the necessary provision in your bank account.
The inventory: You have to inventory (condition of furniture, wallpaper, carpets, bedding ...) at the entrance and exit of the rental, if possible contradictory. Verify the written inventory that submitted which must indicate precisely what is in the rental (furniture, bedding, dishes, objects ...) A good inventory mentions an appreciation of the condition of furniture (new, good, used condition) and any damage existing on your arrival. Run electrical items, appliances, flushing, faucets, and report any anomaly on the inventory or in default as soon as you notice the problem.
At the end of your stay, we must make an inventory called "output inventory " signed two parts. It is designed to help you avoid paying damages that you have not committed.
The article 1731 of french "Code Civil" stipulates that "if the inventory was not done, the renter is presumed to have received the holiday rental in good condition and must leave it so." Still, you can always contest by providing evidence to the contrary.