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An unsellable house, garden sharing: Four French property updates

We also look at where flat prices have stagnated in the past year and how people are trying to cool down their properties in this summer’s soaring temperatures

In this week’s roundup we look at garden sharing services, an unusual property anomaly involving Enedis, hot homes and flat prices in Paris Pic: Impact Photography, sylv1rob1, fizkes, Thomas Dekiere / Shutterstock

Decades-old mistake makes Lyon house ‘unsellable’

The owner of a house in the centre of Lyon has been trying to sell up for 10 years but is unable to because of a decades-old administrative error that attributed a small section of his land to France’s electricity network operator, Enedis. 

Jean-François’s farmhouse has a 500 square metre garden but on the city’s cadastral map - the map that depicts the boundaries of registered plots of land - a small part of it is labelled as belonging to Enedis. This map was updated at the end of the 1970s, before Jean-François bought the property. 

“It went under the radar of the notaires and so it remained a mistake. They themselves admit that it’s a mistake,” Jean-François, who only gave his first name, told RMC. 

“There are days when it makes me smile because I think it's completely absurd, there are days when it makes me despair a little bit because I think I'm getting close to retirement and I'd like to sell and I can't. 

“Buyers say to themselves, ‘We're buying a piece of land, we're buying a house, but there's a mystery’,” Jean-François said, adding that it meant that no one wanted to buy the property. 

And the mystery gets more complicated. 

Jean-François contacted Enedis about the problem and they wrote to the city administration renouncing the plot of land and also agreeing to pay the notaire’s fees involved in resolving the case. 

The most probable source of the mistake is that when the cadastral plan was drawn up in the 1970s, there was a utility pole on the pavement beside the plot of land, which was mistakenly thought to be on the plot of land. Because of that, a little plot where the pole was was attributed eventually to Enedis. 

Even though the plot of land is attributed to Enedis on the cadastral plan, it does not give the electricity company ownership rights, as that is separate. So it means that technically no one owns the plot of land. 

And in order for the city administration to update the map to put it all in Jean-François’ name, they need the permission of the previous owner of the property. 

The problem is that that person is almost certainly dead, as he was already very old when Jean-François bought the house nearly 30 years ago. 

One potential saving grace for Jean-François is that in two years it will be 30 years since he bought the house and if no one claims the small plot of land in that time, he will automatically inherit it, allowing him to sell his house without this anomaly. 

“Vive the French administration,” Jean-François said sardonically. 

Read more: The Londoners who ‘fell into the trap’ of buying a big French property

Rent a garden services growing in popularity

Services that allow homeowners to rent out their gardens to people for private events or to rent out vegetable gardens for longer periods are growing in popularity in France. 

There are two main websites in France offering this, Jardins Privés, launched in 2016, and We Peps, launched in 2017. 

Through these sites, people can rent a garden space to enjoy a BBQ among friends, use a private swimming pool for a few hours, find a space for a personal wedding or even just relax in a shady place. 

Prices are either offered by the hour, at daily rates or when it comes to renting a vegetable plot, possibly longer term rates. 

The prices can range from €10 an hour up to several hundred euros per hour. 

Gardens with swimming pools or other unique amenities cost more. 

People who wish to rent out their garden should list all the amenities they have, including if there is access to a toilet or bathroom. The websites will take a small cut of the fee that you charge. 

Read more: Rent-a-pool: grain containers inspired French mobile pool business

Read more: ‘I get €3,000 a year’: Heatwave sees spike in garden rentals in France

Seven in 10 people say their houses or flats are too hot

Sixty-nine percent of people in France say that they are too hot in their home, according to a new study carried out by Ifop at the request of Actibaie, a grouping that represents the doors, gates, shutter and blinds trades. 

The survey was carried out between June 22 and 24 and involved 1,010 respondents. 

Of those, 88% said it was important to find solutions to reduce the temperatures in homes. 

France has had three heatwaves this summer, in June, July and now at the beginning of August. 

Several temperature records were broken and climate experts have warned that this will become the norm in the coming years. 

Read more: French TV predicted hot weather for 2050…but we’re almost there now

Hervé Lamy, general delegate of Actibaie, said the issue of overly hot homes was not limited to those with low energy efficiency ratings. 

“Even homes that are very efficient in terms of winter heating can be uncomfortable during periods of high heat,” he said. 

“It is time for the public authorities to take this issue on board for existing housing, as they did for new builds in 2020.”

The survey also looked into how people try to reduce the temperature in their homes. 

It found that 82% close shutters or blinds, 77% air out their homes at night, 62% close their windows when it is too sunny, 41% use a fan and 21% use air conditioners. 

A 2021 study by Ademe, the agency of the government’s ecological transition ministry, found that of the people who do not have AC, 19% were thinking of installing one. 

AC is currently responsible for almost 5% of CO2 equivalent emissions in the building sector in France.

“It is urgent to renovate housing to limit the use of air conditioning, which is too energy-consuming. We must think about environmental impact and energy-saving measures," Mr Lamy said.

Read more: June heatwave in France prompts huge ‘cool cities’ budget, but no plan

The cities where flat prices are stagnating

The median price per square metre of a non-new build flat in France is up 4.7% year-on-year, the latest data by France’s official network of notaires shows. 

But prices are not up everywhere. 

In some of France’s major cities, such as Paris, Lyon and Bordeaux, prices are stagnating or even decreasing. 

This is likely linked to the fact that prices in these places are already extremely high, pushing buyers further out into the suburbs, and also the rise in popularity of working from home, meaning fewer people need to be located in cities. 

In Paris, the median price per square metre was 1.2% lower in the first quarter of this year compared to Q1 2021. But the median cost per square metre of a flat in Paris is still the highest in the country, at a huge €10,520. 

In Lyon, prices have only increased by 1% year-on-year. The median price per square metre for a flat there is €5,050. 

In Toulouse, prices are up just 1.8% year-on-year for a median price per square metre of €3,200 and in Bordeaux they are up 1.9% year-on-year for a median price per square metre of €4,510. 

The biggest drop is in Corse-du-Sud, with prices 3.4% lower year-on-year for a median price per square metre of €3,480. 

On the other end of the scale, flat prices have shot up in the past year in Bourges (Cher), up 23.2%, in Besançon (Doubs), up 12.3% and in Metz (Moselle), up 12.1%. 

Read more: MAP: French house price rises continue - how is your area faring?

Read more: ‘Slowdown ahead’: Five French property trends from latest notaire data

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