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Air-con restrictions? Tax foncière rates: Five French property updates

We also look at a four-year legal battle over a BBQ, delays to energy audit obligations and a landmark court ruling against a Parisian estate agency

This week we are looking at a €8,000 for a Paris estate agency, energy-saving plans in the housing sector, a BBQ court case and France’s property tax rates Pic: Enciktepstudio, Tero Vesalainen, Pasko Maksim, Rido / Shutterstock

Government’s energy-saving plan will also impact homeowners

The government has launched a consultation process with key actors in the housing sector to discuss how to reduce energy waste in line with a broader nationwide energy-saving plan (un plan de sobriété énergétique). 

Read more: France prepares measures to prevent winter energy shortages

Representatives of public and private landlords, housing developers, property associations and industry professionals will come together to work on a series of recommendations, which they will present to the government in September. 

Among the possible recommendations are plans to limit using indoor air conditioning when temperatures are below 26C or to limit using heating when temperatures are above 19C. 

Read more: French shops to be required to keep doors closed while aircon is on

“We are exploring with these various actors how to take concrete measures to enable the people in France to reduce their electricity and gas bills and to cut down on waste in their homes", France’s energy transition minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said. 

“Housing is a very important area in terms of heating and natural gas use. An effort is therefore needed to deal with the energy crisis that France is going through.

“This consultation will also enable us to act and find solutions to deal with the climate emergency.”

Ms Pannier-Runacher has also mentioned wishing to amplify tools that are already available to help make homes more energy efficient, such as the home renovation grant scheme MaPrimeRénov’. 

Read more: Explained: How to apply for a renovation grant for your French home

Read more: Extra €1,000 available in grants to replace a gas boiler in France

The minister also said she would soon announce details of a €150million project to finance innovative tools to tackle fuel poverty. 

The goal of the government’s plan de sobriété énergétique is to reduce energy consumption in France by 10% compared to 2019 levels.  

As part of this, six working groups have been established that will work with key actors in their assigned sectors to introduce energy-saving measures. 

Aside from the housing group there is also one for public administration, companies, public-receiving businesses and supermarkets and local authorities. 

Read more: Property renovation: new 0% loan to top-up French ‘MaPrimeRénov’ grant

Energy audit obligation delayed

In related news, the obligation for homeowners selling low-energy performing properties to get an energy audit (audit énergétique) has been delayed until January 1, 2023. 

This obligation was set to come into force on September 1 for owners of properties classed as F or G on France’s diagnostic de performance énergétique (DPE) scale. 

The rule has been delayed due to a lack of preparedness on behalf of the auditors. This is the second time the ruling has been pushed back after it was first supposed to come into effect in January this year. 

An energy audit gives a more complete breakdown of a property’s energy efficiency and also contains recommendations on how to improve the property. The DPE is similar but is a less thorough report of a property’s efficiency. 

The obligation for people selling properties classed E on the DPE to get an energy audit is set to come into effect from January 1, 2025. This will be extended to D-classed properties on January 1, 2034. 

Read more: Local taxes, energy audit: Four updates for property owners in France

In which French city is the taxe foncière highest compared to  monthly mortgage payments?

France’s annual property ownership tax (taxe foncière) has increased by 14% on average since 2018, a study by the property brokerage company Meilleurtaux shows. 

Their report shows that it is now €105 per month on average (€1,270 per year), compared to €92 in 2018.

The study looked at the 20 biggest cities in France and found that the tax is highest in comparison to monthly mortgage payments in Nîmes and Saint-Étienne. 

In both these cities, the annual tax is 2.1 times more than the average monthly mortgage payment. 

For example, the average monthly mortgage payment on a 70-square-metre property in Nîmes is €723. The average taxe foncière for a property that size in the city is €1,551 per year, or €129 per month. 

“It is as if people in Nîmes are paying 14 months of mortgage payments per year instead of 12,” Maêl Bernier, director of communication and spokeswoman for Meilleurtaux, told BFM Immo. 

The taxe foncière is also comparatively high in Le Havre, where it is 1.8 times higher than the average monthly mortgage payment on a 70-square-metre property, and also in Le Mans, where it is 1.7 times higher. 

Montpelier has the out-and-out highest average annual taxe foncière charge, at €1,585. This is 1.3 times the average monthly mortgage payment on a 70-square-metre flat, which is €1,248. 

The tax is the lowest in Paris, where it is just 0.2 times the average monthly mortgage payment, making it on average €770 per year for a 70-square-metre flat. 

The average monthly mortgage payment for a 70-square-metre flat in Paris is €3,932. 

The annual property tax is calculated based on inflation and other elements, including rates set by local authorities. The amount is reviewed each year.

With inflation soaring, the tax is increasing. 

The government is reported to be considering placing limits on increases to the taxe foncière by capping the annual increse to the theoretical rental values that the tax is based on.

Read more: Taxe foncière rise limits?: Five updates for property owners in France

Read more: Taxe foncière bills rising by over 10% in several French towns

Tenants face expulsion for installing BBQ in shared garden

A family renting a flat in Hérault has been ordered to remove a fixed BBQ set up in a shared garden after the owners complained that it was inconveniencing the neighbours. 

The problems started in 2018 when the owner of the property asked a couple - the man has since moved out - to take down the BBQ they had set up. 

French law states that tenants must use shared premises “peacefully” and the owners of the property said that the BBQ should not be installed without permission from the building’s committee. 

The tenants refused to take down the grill and the owner took them to court. 

The tenants argued that the BBQ was necessary because their daughter has food allergies “that require them to prepare meals over a wood fire on a fixed barbecue, as a mobile barbecue could be dangerous”. 

The judge at the court in Béziers did not buy this and ruled in favour of the owner, giving the tenants four months to remove the BBQ or their lease would be terminated. 

The tenants appealed but a judge at the court of appeal in Montpellier came to the same conclusion and again gave the tenants four months to remove the BBQ or face eviction. 

Read more: Can I have an outdoor fire pit or chiminea in my French garden?

First case of Parisien estate agent being fined for illegal holiday let

A landlord and an estate agency in Paris have been fined €8,000 each for renting out a flat on Airbnb and Booking.com without permission from the local mairie. A third-party concierge company hired by the agency has also been fined €2,500. 

The flat, located in the 20th arrondissement, was rented out for short-term stays between October 2018 and August 2020 without authorisation. 

The neighbours complained about the noise and the disruption caused by guests and put up banners protesting against Airbnb. 

It is the first case of an estate agency in Paris being fined for illegal holiday rentals.

Ian Brossat, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of housing, welcomed the fines.

“This is a signal to the whole of the informal housing market that is exploiting our housing to make illegal hotels,” he tweeted. 

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