In order to market the property more effectively, the owner of a furnished apartment for tourist rental can elect to classify the furnished accommodation according to a rating of 1 to 5 stars. But do proceed carefully because you will be required to meet certain conditions, especially as regards the floor area covered by the property, and must also contact an authorized inspection body.
How is furnished accommodation defined?
Furnished accommodation is defined as a villa, apartment or furnished studio for the exclusive use of the tenant, offered for short-term rent to tourists who will typically occupy the property for rental periods determined by the day, the week, or the month. In addition, such property must also meet minimum standards of comfort and service irrespective of whether the property is, or is not, rated and classified within the meaning of Article D. 324-2 of the tourism code.
This “meublé de tourisme” ranking of guest accommodation is voluntary on the part of the owner who may use it as an opportunity to maximize the returns from his rentals, but it is not intended to be a mandatory requirement for undertaking the renting out of holiday lets.
What are the requirements necessary to secure a furnished accommodation ranking?
To achieve a ranking, a furnished apartment with a living space designed to accommodate one or two people must offer a minimum floor area of 9 m2 when there is a separate kitchen, or at least of 12 m2 where a kitchenette is included.
The ranking is based on stars – from 1 star through to 5 stars. The allocation of these star ratings is conducted by looking at a total of 112 test criteria, divided into three major categories:
- “Equipment and facilities”
- “Customer Service”
- “Accessibility and sustainable development”
The classification operates on a point system, where each criterion is assigned a certain number of points. Some criteria are “mandatory”, whereas others are “optional” or “selected”. For ranking in the category applied for, the apartment must obtain a “required” number of points and a number of “optional selected” items defined for this category, for instance:
- At least 95% of the necessary points total for the respective target rating category must be secured. Any mandatory item lost within the 5% tolerated shortfall must, by way of compensation, achieve three times more available points from the additional selection menu;
- And respectively 5%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% of the points in the additional selection menu for the 1 *, 2 *, 3 *, 4 *, and 5 * categories.
This combination of “mandatory” and “selected” points is designed to facilitate an accurate assessment of the quality of each furnished property, and thus its definitive star rating.
What is the classification procedure?
Since 1 June 2012, the prefects no longer have authority to intervene in the classification procedure. Now, Article L. 324-1 of the Tourism Code provides that ‘the decision on the classification of a guest apartment within a category (…) is to be made by the organization which carried out the ranking visit. ”
The list of approved inspection bodies is available on the website www.classement.atout-france.fr
Any authorized organization undertaking a ranking visit has a period of one month from the date of the visit to the furnished property to hand the inspection certificate to the owner of that property, or his representative. This certificate comprises:
- An inspection report demonstrating compliance with the classification tables in the requested category;
- The inspection matrix compiled by the evaluating body;
- A recommendation for a rating classification supported by the evidence contained in the inspection report.
The owner of the furnished property, or his agent, has fifteen days from the receipt of this inspection certificate to refuse the classification proposal. At the end of that period, and in the absence of a refusal, the classification is granted for a period of five years. After this five-year period, the owner must submit a new application for classification if he wishes the accommodation to continue to enjoy the benefits of classification.
This ranking of furnished accommodation is used to inform a prospective tenant about the level of comfort and service the housing offers, and thus serves as a good marketing tool for the owner. However, one should exercise caution in the larger cities, where an owner may have other legal obligations to meet in respect of properties offered for tourist rent.