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Reader question: Can second-home owners in France claim tax rebates for 2020?

Covid travel restrictions has made it impossible for many to visit property in France, meaning some second homes have stood empty for most or all of 2020. So what does that mean for the property taxes?

Reader question: Can second-home owners in France claim tax rebates for 2020?
A view of the Mediterranean village of Gruissan, near Narbonne, southern France. AFP PHOTO / ERIC CABANIS
Question: I was unable to visit my second home in France all last year due to Covid travel restrictions. Can I claim a rebate on the 2020 housing taxes?
Many second home owners have been prevented from visiting their house in France since the pandemic began last spring, due to the strict rules regulating international travel which remain in place for many countries.

IN DETAIL The rules for travelling into France from within the EU

Even so, the property tax rules remains unchanged for second homeowners, which means those in possession of an empty house in France will have to to pay their housing taxes as usual.
France has two types of property taxes: taxe d’habitation and taxe foncière. The taxe d’habitation is the tax paid by the person(s) residing in the house, while the taxe foncière is paid by the owner.
While the taxe d’habitation has disappeared for most people, second homeowners still have to pay it – even if their house has stood empty throughout the pandemic.
There are only a few ways second homeowners can escape the taxe d’habitation, as outlined on the government’s website:
  • If your job obliges you to stay in your second home due to its proximity to the workplace;
  • If you had to move into a a long term care home and your former main residence became your secondary one;
  • If your second home is inhabitable due to circumstances beyond your control (such as renovation needed to make the place habitable).

EXPLAINED: Who has to make a tax declaration in France in 2021?

If, however, you simply have been shut out of France due to travel restrictions imposed to halt the spread of Covid-19, you will still have to pay the tax.

The taxe foncière also remains in place as normal. However, remember that over-75s can get refunds on this tax in some cases. For details on that, see the government’s website (HERE).


Member comments

  1. I can accept the two property taxes ,but , it’s a bit annoying to pay the separate bin charge when not using the service !

  2. Perhaps you can write a letter asking for a reduction. On the other hand, small villages do not have many sources of income.
    We were helped by the ladies of the Tresorerie Publique when we paid our housing taxes.
    Due to all the travel restrictions we had stayed in France instead of going back to the Netherlands. In January when we did go back for a short visit, we found letters from the French tax people. Because we had not paid on time, repeatedly (we hadn’t seen the letters!) we had to pay fines. Paying at the Tresorerie, my husband explained that due to Covid restrictions we had been unable to pay. The lady consulted her colleagues, told my husband to wait as she phoned the tax people; they agreed to scrap the fines and told her how to write a short letter by hand for my husband, which he signed and she would send to the tax people. A month later we received a confirmation that the fines had been waived.
    I cannot imagine such service taking place in my home country.

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EXPLAINED: France’s new rules for advertising rental properties

France is introducing new rules for private landlords from July 1st. Anyone who wants to publish a property listing will need to include certain information that wasn't required before.

EXPLAINED: France's new rules for advertising rental properties

If you are a private landlord and have a property that you want to advertise on the rental market in France, the rules on what information you need to include on the listing have been pretty vague – up until now. 

But an official ruling means that from July 1st that changes. From this date onwards, your advertisement must contain the following information:

  • Rental costs 

Monthly rental costs must be clearly mentioned on your listing. 

READ MORE Nine things to expect when renting an apartment in France

  • Charges

You must include information on any charges that the tenant will incur and information on how these charges can be paid. These charges can include anything from heating costs, to a concierge service. If you want to do an official ‘état des lieux’ or inventory of the property, this costs money. If you want the tenant to cover the cost, you must mention this on the advertisement (as well as the amount). 

READ MORE The vital French vocab for renting property

  • Rent control information

If your property is in an area subject to rent control, you must include the following text in your listing: “zone soumise à encadrement des loyers“.  You must specify the minimum and maximum rental price in your area. 

You can find out if your property is in such a zone by using this simulator

  • Other  

You must include information the the deposit that will be required. You must list the commune or arrondissement where the property is located. You must also provide the surface area of the property as well as information on whether it is furnished or unfurnished. 

READ MORE Renting furnished accommodation in France: What should your landlord provide?

The above information must appear on any advertisement – no matter what form that advertisement takes.