1. Audits for selling energy-inefficient homes
Rules change on April 1 for those selling homes with low energy-efficiency ratings in France.
This applies to individual family homes with the lowest two ‘F’ or ‘G’ rankings on the Diagnostic de performance énergétique scale.
You will now need to get an audit that explains the work - and the cost - needed to undertake renovations allowing the property to reach a higher ‘C’ categorisation.
Those selling homes in the “E” bracket have until January 1, 2025, before the need to have an audit.
Audits will include two renovation suggestions to bring up the energy efficiency levels, including an estimation of the cost.
If selling a property, you can find an approved auditor online using the government search site.
It comes after rules were introduced on January 1 that stopped homes with the lowest G ranking from being rented out.
Read more: Make sense of new energy audits for property in France
Read more: 10 questions about France’s new energy audits for homes
2. Changes to France’s fund for eco-friendly renovations
The MaPrimeRénov’ scheme, aimed at helping homeowners carry out eco-friendly, energy-saving improvements, sees two changes from April 1.
First, high-income households will no longer be eligible to apply to the scheme for ‘single task’ projects, including attic renovations, roof insulation and wall insulation of any kind.
To find out who is no longer eligible, you can use the income details list on the Agence nationale de l’habitat website here.
The second change is the end of the €1,000 bonus for replacing an oil or gas burner with a renewable energy source, and this applies to all households regardless of income.
Read more: France ups aid for geothermal heat pumps to minimum of €5,000 for all
3. Monthly top-up increased to help with inflation
A monthly top-up given to those from low-income households is being raised on April 1.
The RSA (revenu de solidarité active, or active solidarity income) helps support nearly two million people in France.
To help tackle rising prices, the RSA is going to rise 5.6% compared with this time last year, according to Merci pour l'info.
Other benefits for low-income households - including the prime d’activité, or activity bonus, and family and disabled adult allowances - are also increasing.
Read more: How France's free CCAS centres can help residents
4. New wood heater regulations in some areas
To help combat energy inefficiency and pollution, restrictions are being introduced to wood heaters in a number of areas of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.
From next month, homes with existing appliances will need to meet new regulations, and you will only be able to install new appliances with the ‘green flame’ logo, denoting very good energy efficiency.
The use of open fireplaces will be banned in Lyon from this date, too.
Full information on the changes can be found on the official website of the region.
Read more here: Can I get France’s wood fuel support payment as well as that for oil?
5. End of snow tyre requirements
The beginning of April also sees the end of mandatory snow tyre usage, with motorists no longer required to use them unless weather conditions are extreme and warning signs are in place.
In 48 departments across France (particularly in mountainous areas), drivers have to equip vehicles with snow tyres in the winter.
Read more: Snow tyre law could be used by French car insurers to refuse claims
6. Changes to sexist contempt infractions
Categorised as infractions when they were introduced in 2018, actions classed as aggravated sexist contempt will - from April 1 - be classed as offences, carrying a maximum fine of €3,750.
Actions of this nature include undermining or humiliating somebody because of their sex, public sexual propositions, gestures imitating or suggesting a sexual act, whistling and catcalling, degrading somebody in public, and continuous sexual pursuit, amongst others.
One of the objectives of the change is to reduce harassment, especially in public places, by having stricter penalties.
Read more: A French perspective on sexism to mark International Women’s Day
7. Unemployment benefits increase
Usually only revised once a year in July, an increase in unemployment benefits will occur from April.
After negotiations between unions and Unédic (which manages France’s unemployment benefits), a raise of 1.9% was agreed - although some unions like the CGT asked for a raise of 6% in the face of rising prices.
The increase will apply to those who have been receiving unemployment for more than six months.
The annual July revision for the benefit will still take place, however, meaning a second raise is likely later in the year.
Read more: Unemployed in France must promise to do weekly activity in new trial
8. Winter evictions ban ends
The trêve hivernale, a period of time during which landlords cannot evict tenants who do not pay their rent due to the cold weather condition, has now ended.
It runs from November 1 to March 31.
There are certain exceptions where the rule does not apply, for example in the case of squatters.
Read more: French MPs vote for tougher anti-squatting rules to protect Homeowners
9. End of the fuel aid scheme
Applications for €100 of government aid to help people with higher petrol or diesel costs close on March 31.
The scheme aims to help those who use their vehicle to commute to work (or for work-related purposes).
As of last week, the government said millions of eligible people had not yet applied for the one-off payment.
You can check if you are eligible and apply via the impots.gouv website, in the section entitled ‘indemnité carburant’.
Read more: Reminder: Only 11 days left to apply for France’s €100 fuel aid
10. Deadline to use 2022’s energy vouchers
You have until March 31 to use last year’s energy vouchers, as 2023’s will be sent out starting from April 21.
Each year, around five million low-income households receive an energy voucher.
They can be worth up to €277 and be used on energy bills, heating costs, and ecologically friendly home renovations.
Damaged, lost, or stolen vouchers from 2022 can be exchanged until the end of April, if unused.
Read more: Reminder: You have until March 31 to spend last year’s energy vouchers
11. Extensions to wood and oil heating voucher deadline
The deadline to apply for additional energy vouchers, specifically for traditional heating methods, have been pushed back.
Wood heating vouchers, for homes heated with wooden pellets (granulés) can receive vouchers up to €200, depending on household income, and the deadline for applying is now May 31.
A voucher for €100 is available for households with an income of less than €14,400 who use logs, or wood chips for heating.
Fuel oil vouchers for homes that use fioul for heating can also reach a value of €200, for households with a maximum income of less than €20,000, and the deadline to apply is now April 30.
You can apply for the vouchers here, through the official site.
Read more here: Rising energy bills in France: we recap the aid available in 2023
Key dates to remember
Here are also some important dates to remember, alongside some already mentioned in the article:
- Start of Zone A school holidays: Saturday, April 8
- Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques): Monday, April 10
- Impots.gouv.fr website opens for tax declarations: Thursday, April 13
- Start of Zone B school holidays: Saturday, April 15
- Start of Zone C school holidays: Saturday, April 22
France travel wrap: New Ryanair route, ferry boost, free rail pass
12 changes for residents and homeowners in France in March 2023