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French property roundup: Second-home tax increases and one-click moving website

French property opportunities and taxes
French property opportunities and taxes. Photo: Charly Triballaud/AFP
From luxury developments of historic buildings to an increase in taxes for second homes and a guide to using the recycling centre, check out our weekly roundup of French property news.

Sanatorium conversion

If you’re looking for luxury housing in an Art Deco building with a fascinating history, check out the renovation project of this former sanatorium in Dreux in Eure-et-Loir in northern France.

The beautiful old buildings in the 40,000 sq m complex had been standing empty since the sanatorium and spa closed in the 1990s, but now work is beginning to turn them into a hotel and luxury apartments with cabins in the grounds.

The developers say the site will provide for the creation of around 200 homes in the buildings – none of which will be demolished. It is also envisaged that there will be a hotel with a restaurant, a spa, a coworking space and artists’ residences and themed gardens. 

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Building materials shortages

Global shortages of building materials have lead to increased prices, both for people planning a renovation and in the cost of new housing.

The worldwide shortage of building materials such as timber is connected to the pandemic and the resulting massive contraction and then expansion of demand, so in good news should not be a long-term problem.

But it is having an impact on the cost of new-build property in France, in conjunction with several other France-specific factors such as a shortage of vacant plots (in cities) and a freeze on building permits by local mayors in some areas.

Second-home tax increases

For many people in France, the householders’ tax – taxe d’habitation – is being phased out altogether, but for second-home owners it is not only still payable, but is increasing dramatically in some areas.

Local authorities in areas classed as zones tendues, where there is a strong pressure on housing, have the power to increase taxe d’habitiation on second homes by up to 60 percent.

The maximum rate was raised in 2017 and an increasing number of areas are choosing to use it – click here for the full list.

In addition to taxe d’habitation, second-home owners also pay the property-owners’ taxtaxe foncière – and the TV licence.

Let’s move to . . . Montpellier 

When looking at property on France’s Mediterranean coast, Nice tends to grab the attention, but nearby Montpellier is also well worth a look.

France’s seventh largest city sometimes flies under the radar, but it’s a beautiful town with an historic centre, a beach and a thriving university population which also gives it a vibrant nightlife.

Here long-time resident Marc Wisbey explains why – for him – Montpellier is the perfect town.

One-click address changes

While moving to France can be a stressful business, once you’re in France moving house just got a bit easier thanks to a helpful little website that allows you to fill in one form to change your address, which will then be communicated to all relevant bodies such as energy suppliers, the tax office and the social security offices.

Find full details here.

French property vocab

If you’re doing any kind of property renovation, you will soon become intimately familiar with la déchetterie – the local recycling centre/garbage dump.

Garbage or rubbish is known in French as les déchets or les ordures but la déchetterie is much more than a simple rubbish tip.

While normal household waste will be collected from outside your home, la déchetterie is for items that are either too large to fit in bins, or that cannot be accepted by household waste collectors such as chemicals or builders’ rubble.

The great majority of items deposited at la déchetterie are recycled, and for this reason each centre has its own system of diving up waste into different sections.

When you go you will be expected to tell staff what you have in the car, so it’s worth revising some useful terms such as les gravats (rubble or builders’ waste) le bois traité/non traité (treated/untreated wood) les déchets verts (garden waste).

READ ALSO What you need to know before going to a French recycling centre

Property tip of the week 

If you’re particularly sensitive to mosquito bites, you might want to check before you buy whether your new home is in a zone where the insects are prevalent. Fortunately there is a website that tracks where the pesky creatures hang out and where you are most likely to get bitten – check out Vigilance Moustiques

In bad news, climate change means they are increasing their range, and you are also more likely to see Tiger Mosquitoes, which bite both day and night.

MAP: Where in France has been colonised by tiger mosquitoes?


Member comments

  1. Is anyone else being pestered to reveal all income or asset details to a French bank.? I,m not resident or anything but have a share in holiday house and use a Credit Agricle account for the house expenses. I haven’t got any property or income in France. I’ve been told they must know personal details or they’ll shut the account. I think they’re a bit too nosey.
    Dave heed

    1. It was a surprise to me when I moved to France how common it is for institutions to request your intimate financial details. Not only banks, but random real estate agents for finding an apartment and the school system for determining your coefficient for lunch and extracurricular activity fees, and more.

      So if the bank is asking for your income tax statement, I wouldn’t be surprised. I’ve never had the impression that saying no is an option. It seems to be considered normal here.

    1. I cannot imagine that’s true. Nobody asked our nationality when we bought either of our cars. We did have to show our CdS, though, so there’s that.

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