A year like no other
French Property News|November 2020
So much for spring cleaning — property manager Mary Hall explains how 2020 has thrown a spanner in the works for second home owners
Mary Hall

W ell, 2020 has certainly been different! The problems posed by Covid-19 for those with second homes or holiday businesses in France have been challenging to say the least. As a business of property managers for absentee owners, we too have had to deal with issues which have never come up in our 25 years of operation.

We had recently returned from a short break in England when President Macron announced the lockdown. Just like everybody else, we had no idea how things would pan out and how it would affect us, let alone for how long. In rural France the restrictions were easy to deal with. Most people have access to outdoor space and village communities pulled together to ensure no one fragile went without shopping deliveries or prescriptions. The requirement to carry an attestation justifying your reason for being out of the house was easy to manage (the €135 fine concentrated the mind), but many of us naughtily popped across the road to the bins without one.

There was some concern that second homes would be more likely to suffer break-ins during lockdown, but this didn’t seem to be the case. The roads were so empty that perhaps being spotted out and about on some nefarious business was considered too risky.

NO JOYS OF SPRING

Easter and early spring seemed weird; no houses needed spring cleaning for guests, and owners couldn’t visit to cut their hedges and do their usual decorating and odd jobs. The weather was dry so there wasn’t much grass cutting to do either. We were generally just keeping gardens under control without spending too much time and clients’ money, as many of them correctly feared they wouldn’t get to France at all this year. This has certainly been the case with our Australian owners, and a number of our more elderly UK clients who were worried about travelling even when allowed to do so.

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