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HOUSING

France offers grants of up to €300 to help pay rent or mortgages this summer

Tenants and first-time homeowners in France can apply for up to €300 to help pay rent or mortgages this summer.

France offers grants of up to €300 to help pay rent or mortgages this summer

The grant scheme is set up by Action Logement, a French group controlled by businesses and unions, which aims to help people in France get into the housing market, and supported by the French government.

The idea is to avoid a situation where people in France who saw their incomes reduced due to the coronavirus health crisis cannot meet their rent or mortgage payments. 

France has already extended the trêve hivernale (winter truce), which prohibits landlords from expelling tenants who failed to pay rent, until July 10th. 

But even with the other schemes set up by the government to help people through the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus, the fear is that many people will struggle to pay their bills this summer.

Coronavirus crisis in France: The battle to save the livelihoods of the self-employed

Who can access it?

Only people whose primary residence is in France and who work in either the private or agricultural sector can access the help. That means public sector employees are not eligible for the scheme.

Only one person per household can access the help scheme, and their net income needs to be less than 1.5 times the minimum wage a month – the SMIC (minimum wage) is currently €1,219 for over 18s so this works out at €1,828.50.

Both tenants and first-time homeowners may qualify for this help, provided they meet the income requirements AND they found themselves in one of the following situations between April 2020 and the end of the health emergency (this date has not yet been set by the French government);

  • They lost their job (this includes people on fixed term CDD contracts who did not get their contract renewed and people on intérim (temporary) placements who saw their job suspended, as well as people on permanent CDI contracts who were laid off)

  • They saw their income reduced by 15 percent (for example because they were put on the government's partial unemployment scheme or because they had to take time off work due to childcare)

  • Utility bills represent at least 40 percent of their monthly income

To access the help, you need:

  • An ID

  • A salary slip for February 2020

  • Proof that you saw a salary decrease of 15 percent or more

  • Your RIB (bank details)

  • A rent receipt if you are a tenant 

  • Or, for first-time homeowners, a bank account statement mentioning the monthly payment of the mortgage, for the month of the income drop.

If you tick all the necessary boxes, you will get up to €300 (maximum €150 per month over two months maximum) once your application has been processed.

You can access the application on the Action Logement website (the form will be made accessible on July 30th).

The application needs to be filled sent in in the three months following first revenue decrease.

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PROPERTY

MAP: Where in France can you buy property for less than €100k?

While French cities such as Paris are notoriously expensive, there are many areas outside the cities where it is still possible to buy spacious homes for less than €100,000 - particularly if you don't mind a bit of renovation.

MAP: Where in France can you buy property for less than €100k?

We decided to look at where in France you could afford a property on a budget of €100,000, and it turns out there are some bargains to be had.

There are a lot of caveats while searching for property, and many local variables in place, but our search does show some of the areas to concentrate on if you have a limited budget.

We used the Notaires de France immobilier website in August 2022, and we specified that the property should have at least five rooms (including kitchen and bathroom) and a floor space of at least 100 square metres.

We also discounted any property that was for sale under the viager system – a complicated purchase method which allows the resident to release equity on their property gradually, as the buyer puts down a lump sum in advance and then pays what is effectively a rent for the rest of the seller’s lifetime, while allowing them to remain in the property.

READ ALSO Viager: The French property system that can lead to a bargain

For a five-room, 100 square metre property at under €100,000, you won’t find anywhere in the Île-de-France region, where the proximity of Paris pushes up property prices. The city itself is famously expensive, but much of the greater Paris region is within commuting distance, which means pricier property. 

Equally the island of Corsica – where prices are pushed up by its popularity as a tourist destination – showed no properties for sale while the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur – which includes the French Riviera – showed only 1 property under €100,000.

The very presence of Bordeaux, meanwhile, takes the entire département of Gironde out of this equation – but that doesn’t mean that the southwest is completely out of the running. A total of 25 properties came up in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. One property was on the market for a mere €20,000 – but it was, as the Notaires’ brochure noted, in need of “complete renovation”.

Neighbouring Occitanie, meanwhile, showed 12 further properties in the bracket.

By far the most properties on the day of our search – 67 – were to be found in the Grand Est region of eastern France. The eastern part of France overall comes out best for property bargains, with the north-east region of Hauts-de-France showing 38 properties and and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté displaying 25.

Further south, however, the presence of the Alps – another popular tourist destination – pushed up prices in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region which showed just three results.

The below map shows our search results, with darker colours indicating more cheap properties.

Property buying tips 

In order to make a comparison, we focused our search on properties advertised online, but if you have a specific area in mind it's well worth making friends with a few local real estate agents and perhaps also the mayor, since it's common for properties not to be advertised online.

Most of the truly 'bargain' properties are described as being "in need of renovation" - which is real estate speak for a complete wreck.

If you don't mind doing a bit of work you can often pick up property for low prices, but you need to do a clear-eyed assessment of exactly how much work you are willing and able to do, and what the cost is likely to be - there's no point getting a "cheap" house and then spending three times the purchase price on renovations.

READ ALSO 'Double your budget and make friends with the mayor' - tips for French property renovation

That said, there were plenty of properties at or near the €100,000 mark that were perfectly liveable or needed only relatively minor renovations.

You also need to pay attention to the location, as the sub-€100,000 properties are often in remote areas or very small villages with limited access to amenities. While this lifestyle suits many people, bear in mind that owning a car is a requirement and you may end up paying extra for certain services.

Finally remember that government help, in the form of loans and grants, is available for environmentally friendly improvements, such as insulation or glazing.

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