The special low-rate ‘tarifs sociaux’ for energy bills have being phased out and replaced by a new winter benefit, the chèque énergie, which since January 1 has been paid automatically to all households that meet the earnings criteria.
These are taken from tax records and mean single people with income of less than €7,500 a year and couples with two children and income of less than €16,000 receive the aid. Averaging €150, the payment can reach €227.
It is aimed at helping to pay energy bills, no matter what type of fuel is used. It is not a bank cheque and cannot be cashed but it can be used to pay for work to improve energy efficiency if carried out by an RGE certified artisan.
Snow gives boost to mountain property
With snow arriving in ski resorts before Christmas, the mountain property market is buoyant with prices rising in Chamonix by nearly 5% in a year as buyers appreciate the year-round benefits of the site.
Chamonix has the attraction of being a town and not just a ski station. It has more visitors in summer than in winter and property rentals are booming once again but buyers who are hoping for guaranteed snow are looking more at resorts above the 1,800m mark.
Indeed, ski stations are preparing for a future without reliable snow by 2030 and those at lower altitudes, affected by the falling rain-snow line, are adding new options such as spa and therapy centres which are less dependent on snow.
Who wants to be an estate agent?
Rated one of the least trustworthy of professions for years (along with journalists), estate agents are, surprisingly, one of the most sought-after professions on French Google.
Typing ‘How to become...’ Comment devenir... into the search engine and the first response is, naturally, riche, but is followed by agent immobilier.
Industry experts feel it is because people see the housing market as a bit of a ‘get rich quick’ idea where the industry is relatively easy to get into and is beginning to take off again.
Neighbours warned to leave well alone
France’s highest appeal court, the Cour de Cassation, has said that residents sharing common spaces do not have the right to clear out other residents’ property that may be blocking access to corridors or stairs as they may face paying compensation for any damage.
It said that flowerpots, prams or other items could only be moved if the owner has been warned to do so, if the property regulations forbid them and if a judge gives the go-ahead.
The rule was that no one could substitute for the owner in fulfilling their legal obligations and that the owner should be given notice to do so and time enough to comply.
Flood tax imposed to pay for works
More councils are opting to apply a new tax, the taxe Gemapi better known as the taxe inondation, which can now be levied by them to help pay for flood prevention work.
The tax has been in place since 2015 but was little used until this year when the government transferred the responsibility for flood prevention on to councils.
Payable up to a maximum of €40 per inhabitant, the totals vary enormously from €5.90 in La Grande Motte, Hérault, to €4.90 in Forbach, Moselle, and €14-€17 in the Dunkirk area.