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Artois

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  1. Our guests who departed this morning had stripped the beds and left the house immaculate. It is such a joy to walk in and found it left like that. I have just emailed them to express my appreciation. They even offered to pay for a chopping board they had accidentally melted but we refused as we accept that accidents happen. Our last guests left rings on the tables, pulled down a curtain rail and the plaster with it, left permanent stains on the bedcovers, left pieces of games all over the house, left candle wax on the furniture, picked the flowers from the hanging baskets, burnt out the kettle, left greasy pans and dirty crockery. It took us an extra 2 hours to clean the kitchen and half an hour to clean the frying pan. The toilet was blocked despite the normal advice on septic tank etiquette. the tiles were chipped and the staircase and wooden floors scratched. It is very disheartening and too many like them and it makes the gite business unviable. You want it to be nice for the next set of guests. The next problem is when to retain some of the security deposit.When we started we naively thought taking a deposit was adequate enough as a deterrent. We have found this not to be so. We would never charge for breakages crockery glasses and in previous years have only with held money for a broken window and a burnt out wood burning stove (although what is £100 pounds when it cost 900 euros to replace). This year we have charged  3 lots of guests for damage and excess cleaning and surprisingly enough not one has raised an objection; We don't like doing it and it is only a last resort and we are very careful to justify our decision.      
  2. Our contract does not state we require guests to do any cleaning but just to leave it in a clean and tidy state on departure which is in line with mutual respect. It does state that cleaning is included but that if it is left an unacceptable state we reserve the right to charge an additional fee. It is a standard holiday letting contract.We don't leave mops or vacuum cleaners as we expect to do it ourselves. We expect to spend 4 or 5 hours cleaning our 6 person gite. What we don't expect to do is spend hours cleaning the oven and hob, rewashing all the crockery cutlery and pans and scraping dried food off the floor with a scraper. In our first few years of letting we had no problems but sadly things are changing. We do also only have 6 hours changeover time between guests. Twice this year we have had to explain to newly arrived guests that they will have to bare with us whilst we take the cutlery, pans etc into our house to wash them before returning them to the gite as we have been unable to complete the changeover in time. We find this unacceptable.   We have had no problems with anyone objecting to signing the contract, in fact a contract is to protect both parties and guarantees them the right to a clean and tidy property on arrival. I would be wary of staying anywhere where that was not in place.We think our own contract is fair but appreciate it could be open to abuse, there are unfortunately unscrupulous owners out there who take advantage and give us all a bad name.  
  3. We thoroughly clean the bathroom and wipe over the surfaces in the kitchen between guests. We pull out the furniture to dust and sweep, to wash the floors, clean windows and would not expect clients to do that. We do however expect our clients to leave the hob, oven and sink as found, to wipe out the fridge in the case of any spills, to clean the barbeque if used, clear up crumbs from the floor and surfaces, clean up any spills from the floors, empty the bins, empty the dishwasher and leave the crockery and cutlery clean and ready for use by the next guests. Maybe our expectations are too high?? Our end of stay cleaning offer is rarely taken up. We have a few lines in our guest welcome folder outlining roughly what we expect of our guests on leaving the property in the hope of avoiding any confusion. Maybe we need a clause stating that in not taking up our end of stay cleaning offer, the guests undertake to ....but that of course is already mentioned in the contract.
  4. Why do the guests opting for our end of stay clean leave the place far cleaner than those who choose to do it themselves? I just wish we had more people opting for the end of stay clean instead of the latter, as we find the hours spent cleaning is increasing year on year.
  5. Our current guests score the highest for the number of questions we have been asked. They booked both gites for a wedding party back in January and have been asking questions on a twice weekly basis ever since. They made a special trip from the UK to see the place and after looking around for an hour seemed satisfied and left. 3 days later they rang to ask how many bathrooms it had? I had 3 phone calls to ask if there were hairdryers and irons. I confirmed there were but suggested they elected one party member to organise and communicate with the others. They are all cousins. On arrival of the first couple she showed me the hairdryer and iron she had bought just in case. They requested directions from Arras but then informed me they were coming from Lille and would I oblige with more directions, on arrival it appears they had come direct from Paris. They have actually come from India, USA, Australia, Belgium and the UK. The lady from India is walking around in a flimsy sarhi and complaining she is cold and has the heating on full blast and it is 23°C. They have requested daily maid service? and yes it turns out they all have servants in India. I guess these guests are unusual but on a more serious note we do get bombarded with questions by enquirers and guests alike these days and it is difficult and time consumming to handle. Maybe we should politely point out that they are booking self catering accommodation. If they were booking a hotel they would not get the level of service we gite owners provide.  
  6. 8 months on..... and we have a result. After having to produce yet more paperwork ie our 2007 tax returns and details of our payments of French social charges the CAF have now agreed that we are entitled to receive family allowance here. Most of us only want to do the right thing it is just so frustrating when the authorities don't understand the rules.
  7. Thank you for the link Puzzled. It certainly looks as if we should have been able to stay on the Uk system. We received a letter some time ago asking if our children were still at school in the UK and pointing out that if not we may no longer be entitled to benefit. On returning the form benefit ceased and when we contacted them they confirmed that was correct and advised us to join the French system. Armed with these facts I think we will now contact them again and demand some back pay. It would appear that few people working in these departments have any idea of the rules in either country.                
  8. Despite paying both national insurance (husband works in the UK) and cotisations to URSSAF (gites) we have been told by both Newcastle and CAF we are not entitled to child benefit for our 3 children. Our children have attended school here in France for the past 4 years. Having supplied the requested letter stating we are no longer entitled to UK benefit, 9 visits, provision of countless documents and after 7 months we have now finally had a formal refusal stating we do not fulfill the requirements for family allowance or even au droit au sejour! new rules came into force in May although of course we applied in January. Where do we go from here? any suggestions greatly received
  9. Thank you Thunderhorse and Dave&Olive for your suggestions. Unfortunately we have laminate work tops. We did decide to take the risk and butcher the units and fortunately the operation went well with no damage or splitting and happily we now have a perfect fit. We now have more time wasting ahead to find the correct fitting to connect a 12mm copper pipe to a flexible gas pipe. Is nothing in this house simple!
  10. Hi Paul My OH has done it once on a previous kitchen worktop. He recommends having a good practise first as it is quite tricky. However worth the effort rather than those unhygienic jointing strips. Just wondered where you obtained your jig? We searched high and low in France and finally managed to borrow one from a friend in the UK. We are to do our new kitchen work top shortly but now wonder if we have the right guide as it is a straight edged worktop not a roll top type. courage!
  11. Can anyone advice where Ikea have failed us? How do we fit a corner unit into a corner wider than 90°. This is currently leaving a gap of 1cm at the front between the corner unit and neighbouring one. Should we try to modify the unit somehow or fit a disguise over the gap at the front? Any suggestions gratefully received as I have waited 8 years for this kitchen and my patience is wearing thin.
  12. Artois

    No health cover

    Thank you Russethouse, that is most helpful. We can now go into our main CPAM office armed with the facts.
  13. Our E106 has now expired and we find having relinquished our right to UK health care we are not entitled to join the French health care system either. We are unable to afford private health cover but short of returning to live in the UK what can we do? We have a gite business, are french tax resident but still pay voluntary UK N.I.contributions. Ours sons are booked on a skiing trip and may now be unable to go as we have been unable to find private insurance. Trailfinders will not insure unaccompanied children.  
  14. We have just heard they are planning to put a telephone mast in the church steeple next to our house. We are naturally concerned about any potential health risks to our children. How do we find out more? apart from a conversation with the surveyors we have seen nothing posted in the Mairie or in the local paper. Obviously our first stop will be the mayor but as he is the shoulder shrugging, indiffernet type  we don't hold out much hope in him listening to our concerns. If we did raise an objection how would we go about it and to whom? It seems to us there are various alternative sites including the water tower where there are no neighbouring houses. Artois
  15. I would be most grateful if anyone could advise me. We wish to oil our light oak beams but preferably without darkening them too much. Can anyone recommend which oil would be best? Thank you in advance. Artois
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