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Pool taxes, auction deals: Four updates for property owners in France

We also look at a €10,000 fine for a Paris landlord for overcharging his tenant and a court ruling over couple consent at copropriété meetings

In this week’s roundup we look at swimming pool taxes, bargain homes in Brittany and a heavy fine for a landlord who set the rental price too high Pic: Robert Kneschke, LightField Studios, EricBery, fokke baarssen / Shutterstock

Swimming pools and taxes - not a negligible amount

France is the leading builder of private swimming pools in Europe with over 3.2 million in the country - but the construction of the pool is not the only cost that has to be taken into consideration. 

Pools over 10 square metres are also taken into account for the property ownership tax the taxe foncière. This does not include inflatable pools or ones that can be dismantled. 

This tax is paid annually and a swimming pool can add around €50 to €100 to owners’ bills. 

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

Read more: Taxe foncière France’s local property tax: Who pays and the exemptions

Swimming pools are also subject to the so-called ‘garden shed’ tax (taxe d’aménagement). 

This one-off tax is paid on most constructions requiring authorisation from the council, whether formal planning permission or just prior declaration. 

It is known as the garden shed tax because, unlike most property taxes, it is also payable on simple sheds, as long as they have a ground surface area of at least five square metres and a ceiling height of at least 1.8m.

Compared to last year, the tax has risen around 7%, whereas rises in the previous two years were limited to 1.1% and 0.7%

Read more: France’s ‘garden shed tax’ is up 7% on last year

Pool design company Piscinelle states that for a pool of 50 square metres the taxe d’aménagement will have cost around €425 in 2021, depending on which department the property was in. 

People who fail to declare pools in a bid to avoid paying these taxes are being targetted in various operations by the authorities.

Read more: How French tax authorities are tracking undeclared swimming pools

Paris landlord fined €10,000 for overcharging tenant

A landlord has been fined €9,700 by a Paris court for overcharging his tenant by €645 per month. 

In October 2020 a new tenant moved into the three-room, 68-square-metre flat located in the sixth arrondissement in Paris. The landlord set the rent at €2,700 (€39 per square metre).

The tenant accepted this amount despite the fact that it was €645 more than what the previous tenant was paying. 

Legally rent cannot be set at a higher rate for a new tenant in certain towns and cities in France with over 50,000 inhabitants and where the housing market is considered strained, such as is the case in Paris. 

There can be exceptions to this such as if the landlord carried out considerable renovations within the six months prior to the new tenant moving in but they are unusual.

Read more: How to know which French housing zone you live in and what it changes

One year after moving in, the tenant asked the landlord to replace three windows in the flat, but he refused. 

This led to a breakdown in relations between the two and the tenant then demanded the rent be lowered back down to €2,055. When the landlord refused, the tenant took him to court. 

The landlord claimed that he raised the rent in line with market prices, with the average price in the nearby area around €43 per square metre. 

But the court ruled in favour of the tenant. 

In addition to the €9,700, the landlord was also asked to pay €2,650 in “unjustified charges” as well as €1,000 in legal fees. 

The lawyer of the tenant claimed that the €9,700 was €800 short due to a miscalculation, and also said that the landlord should be liable to pay for the first six months of 2022 as well, with the tenant having continued to live in the flat and pay €2,700 per month. 

If those fees are added, the landlord could be liable to pay another €4,670. 

Three Brittany properties going for under €100,000 at auction

With property prices increasing almost everywhere in France, auctions can be one way to score a bargain. Here are three options in Brittany that will go under the hammer in the coming weeks. 

Seven bedrooms, five thousand euros

Credit: Screenshot / Google Maps

The first is a seven-bedroom house located in the small village of Scaër in Finistère that has a starting price of just €5,500. 

The price reflects the fact that the property is in poor condition.

It will be up for auction on June 29 in Quimper. See here for more details.

1950s doer-upper

Credit: Screenshot / Google Maps

This 86-square-metre house in Plounévez-Quintin (Côtes-d’Armor) is up for auction at just €15,000. 

Built in the 1950s, the house is listed as being in poor condition externally and in need of renovation. The paint on the gables is blackened and the roof is worn. As a plus, it does have a garden. 

The auction will take place on July 5. See here for more details

Bargain farmhouse

This 167 square-metre farmhouse in Ploemeur (Morbihan) comes with two wooden garden cottages, a workshop, a room used for storage and a garage.

It is up at auction with a starting price of €90,000 on July 7. See here for more details and pictures.

Couple consent at an assemblée générale des copropriétaires

Both members of a couple who own a flat in France do not need to be present at an assemblée générale des copropriétaires for the decisions taken there to be valid, a recent court decision confirms. 

In France, buildings divided into flats are co-owned by the individual flat owners under the copropriété system.

A copropriété includes individual private areas, ie. personal flats, and communal spaces such as hallways, lifts, gardens and even bin areas.

The syndicat des copropriétaires is a technical term for all of the owners, who hold an annual meeting called the assemblée générale (or AG) des copropriétaires. It has its own legal status, similar to a company, and takes decisions related to the building’s management.

In a recent case, a syndic took legal action against one couple to claim for charges that they had not paid. 

A syndic is an organisation, in most cases a commercial firm but in some cases an individual, who acts as the legal representative of the syndicat des copropriétaires. 

Read more: French property syndics: What can I do if mine stops responding?

But one member of the couple said that as she had not been present at the AGs there was no unanimous vote to support decisions made there, and so she claimed they were not liable to pay the charges. 

But France’s supreme court of appeal, the Cour de cassation, has rejected this idea, stating in a June 1 decision that if one member of a couple attends an AG then that person has implied consent from the other member of the couple. 

The court did, though, state that there could be some exceptions, such as if there is proof that the couple were not acting in agreement or had separated. If this is the case, then both members of the couple should be present at the AG to vote on decisions. 

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