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Setting up a Bed and Breakfast Business

Many of us dream of escaping the rat race and moving to warmer climes and the established property market on the Greek Islands makes them a natural choice for many disillusioned Europeans. When reality sets in, the issue of earning a living becomes a key area for consideration and many people begin to dream again about owning their own Bed and Breakfast in a secluded sunny cove, where breakfasts of fresh fruit and fresh bread are served on a patio overlooking the clear blue sea. However, this dream in reality is not always as idyllic as it may first seem…


Renting Rooms

If you set up a Bed and Breakfast on Greek territory, you are effectively letting out rooms and under Greek law you need to obtain a special licence from the Greek National Tourist Organisation (EOT), located on most islands. Getting the licence involves a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork and takes a lot of time and money, which means that you need to obtain it well in advance of opening. The most important point to consider is that if the EOT believes that the rental market in your area is already adequately supplied, they will not issue a licence. Therefore you must check out the licence situation before you purchase your property. There are slight variations on the licence according to the exact use of your property, but you need to supply the following documents: a police certificate from either the Greek police if you are resident here or from your home country showing that you have no criminal record, a completed application in Greek, your latest Greek tax return if you are resident here and a signed declaration of your intention to rent, which you can obtain from a Greek notary.

Property Specifications

You will need documentation proving that your property meets all of the requirements under Greek law and will be expected to show a certificate issued by a qualified architect showing that your plumbing and sewerage (including septic tanks) meet the official requirements, another certificate from the architect showing that the property conforms to the earthquake building regulations, an environmental survey, again provided by an architect who will view the property and make sure that it is suitable for the purpose. This survey alone will cost around 1,500 Euros, a fire certificate from the local fire chief, who will ensure that there are adequate fire exits and fire extinguishers. You will need to keep in with the fire chief as you will need him to check and stamp all of your fire extinguishers on an annual basis, an original and a copy of the building’s planning permission or if starting from scratch a building licence, proof that the payment of all local taxes has been kept up to date. If you have a swimming pool on site then you will also need certificates showing that this conforms to Greek regulations.

Finding Help and Staying Legal

To help you through this maze of red tape it is best to engage the services of a good English-speaking lawyer as well as an architect. Make sure that your lawyer follows each step to make you legal and that all documents in Greek are translated for you by a registered translator.

You should also bear in mind that your licence will have to be renewed every year to keep you legal and this will cost 100 Euros. You may think that you can fly below the radar and just let to friends and acquaintances, however should you fail to obtain a licence, you are leaving yourself wide open for a legal suite. For example if one of your guests has an accident at your property you could face jail and prosecution. Your guest might be a friend and want to keep stumm about the accident but if they are hospitalized then the authorities will get involved. Additionally, locals and expats who have gone through the rigmarole of obtaining their own licences may report you to tax authorities if they discover you are running your business illegally and you can rest assured that if this happens, the tax man will also take legal action.

Setting Up Your Business

You don’t need to register as a business, which will save you a vast amount of money. Under Greek law you can operate you business as a sole trader providing you have the relevant licences and file a tax return every year. You will need to find a good accountant who can keep your records up to date. Once this is taken care of you can set about arranging your Bed and Breakfast. You will need several sets of sheets and towels and a good washing machine as well as crockery and cutlery on which to serve those lavish breakfasts you dreamed about. Many guests today will expect to have access to facilities such as WiFi and internet connections along with satellite TV. They will also expect to have easy access to the beach and local bars and restaurants, This may mean that you have to lay on a mini bus if the public services are not up to scratch likewise you need to think of how your guests will get to and from the airport. Having a good range of amenities is nothing if no-one knows where you are or that you even exist. You need to invest in an internet site with proper web marketing and hosting to ensure that you are visible to the masses that are looking for holidays in the Greek Islands. You should also consider other forms of advertising to drive traffic to your website. Don’t rely on word of mouth and the promise of friends to fill your rooms during the holiday season this rarely works unless you have been established for many years with excellent ratings. Most of all understand that running a business of this nature involves a lot of time and sheer hard work and you may not turn a decent profit for several years. On the plus side you will have the satisfaction of working for yourself in a beautiful environment with plenty of free time during the winter months.