Two holiday homes in Brittany have been sprayed with graffiti protesting against secondary residences as tensions continue in the region.
One of the houses is situated in Saint-Gildas de Rhuys (Morbihan), and was covered with messages including ‘Finis les riches’ (no more rich people) and ‘La BZH aux BZH’, which translates loosely to Brittany for the Bretons. BZH is an abbreviation of Breizh, which is Breton for Brittany.
The gendarmerie in Sarzeau has opened an investigation into the vandalism.
The number of second homes has multiplied in Brittany over recent years, with national statistics institute Insee stating that between 1968 and 2018, the total increased by 360% on the Brittany coastline.
The situation was accelerated by the Covid crisis when people became eager to move out of big cities or at least find a more rural or coastal place to spend weekends.
Holiday lets are also on the increase, provoking tensions in the local housing market.
Four organisations advocating greater access to housing took part in a protest on September 10 in Douarnenez and Concarneau (Finistère), Vannes (Morbihan) and Lannion (Côtes-d’Armor), calling for the region to be classed as a ‘zone tendue’ (area under housing strain).
This label would enable local authorities to impose additional taxes on empty and second homes, as well as regulating holiday lets and rental rates.
“No Breton commune is in a zone tendue, which is intensifying the discontent. Officials and citizens are powerless against the speculative property frenzy,” Gaël Roblin, member of the Tregor Argoat Goelo Zone Tendue collective. “Local buyers cannot keep up”.
“People working on the coast are therefore pushed very far inland, with extremely long journeys to work,” Mr Roblin added.
In Saint-Malo, more than one property in four (26.2%) is a second home. There, the mairie has imposed a quota on the number of short-term rentals that could exist within different areas.
Therefore, in the town, only 12.5% of properties can be rented out as a tourist let. However, this prompted a group of property owners to launch legal action against the mairie, claiming that this regulation was “unprecedented” in the whole of France.