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Renovation aid, septic tank court case: Five French property updates

Our weekly roundup of French real estate and property news, including issues with the MaPrimeRénov’ grant

Our weekly roundup of French real estate and property news Pic: Bilanol / Hadrian / KaliAntye / Dariusz Jarzabek / Shutterstock

IT bugs plague popular MaPrimeRénov grant process

The MaPrimeRénov' grant scheme, introduced in 2020, has proved to be very popular - but the application system has been plagued by computer bugs, France’s housing minister has admitted. 

The grant helps homeowners improve energy-saving features such as insulation, ventilation and heating, and was recently revamped. 

You can read more about the updates to it in our January property roundup here

To date, 680,000 applications for the grant have been approved, with 380,000 applicants having already received the money. 

A further 800,000 applications are expected in 2022, Figaro Immobilier reports. 

However, there have been issues. So far, only an average of €3,200 has been given to each household, which is far from enough to renovate a home to make it more energy efficient. 

Housing Minister Emmanuelle Wargon has also admitted that there have been IT bugs in the process, with around 450 of them left to fix. 

These have been caused by organisational issues within the Agence nationale pour l’habitat, which manages MaPrimeRénov’, as well as Covid and landlords being difficult to reach, the minister said. 

Ms Wargon promised on January 12 that these problems would be fixed within two to three weeks. 

Who to ask for help with green renovations

Home renovation help, including grants such as MaPrimeRénov’, have now been grouped together under the France Rénov network with a dedicated website, helpline (0 808 800 700) and local centres.

Via the website or helpline you can ask for advice from an expert on what grants you are entitled to and what renovation work you can have done. The experts can guide you through all the steps involved in applying for a grant and seeing that the work is completed and you receive the money. 

Asking the help of an expert through France Rénov is not required to benefit from the MaPrimeRénov’ grant, but it may become so in the future for work costing more than €5,000. It is currently free, but may become a paid service in the future. 

Through the website you can also find approved artisans or tradespeople to receive quotes about work, and this is also the place you can submit your application for a MaPrimeRénov’ grant.

A damaged septic tank should be covered by house insurance

An insurer cannot argue that a damaged septic tank is not part of the household and therefore not covered in a policy, France’s Court of Cassation, the highest court in the French judiciary, has ruled. 

It comes after a home-owner, who had taken out flood insurance and whose septic tank was damaged by heavy rainfall, took legal action against their insurer who refused to cover the cost of the damage. 

The insurer argued that the policy only covered the main building plus certain other specified elements, such as the heating system, wall coverings and a veranda. 

They claimed that the septic tank did not fall into any of these categories as it was located outside. 

However, the French court rejected this argument, stating that the tank is inseparable from the main building as without it the home could not be lived in. 

The ruling, given on December 16, stated that the insurance contract cannot make “subtle distinctions” between parts of the building that are insured and parts that are not. 

Studio rentals on the rise

In 2021 in France, more than a third (36%) of all rentals were studio flats. This is an increase of 4% compared to 2020. Only five percent of rentals were houses. 

Richard Horbette, founder of tenant and landlord matchmaking service, said that the increase in studio rentals is “partly due to different mobility patterns,” Figaro Immobilier reported. 

“If I live in a studio, I am more likely to move more often than if I live in a four-bedroom house. There is therefore a very high demand for houses but fewer are available, meaning fewer people moving in and out,” he said. 

Another reason is linked to the Covid pandemic.

“In 2020, students did not know whether they would be doing classes remotely or in-person, so many returned to live with their parents,” he said.

“In 2021, they mostly returned to living in small flats.”

The average surface area of rented accommodation in France decreased from 46 square metres in 2020 to 42 square metres in 2021. 

The reality of rentals does not match the aspirations of people in France. 

While 36% of rentals are studios, only 25% of renters wish to live in this type of accommodation. On the other hand, 20% of renters want to live in a house, even though they are only rented by 5%. 

Paris no longer profitable

The price of flats in Paris fell by 1.7% in 2021 compared to the previous year, property estimation platform Meilleurs Agents reports. 

This is mostly linked to the Covid pandemic, the fact that working from home is more common and people being priced out of big cities. 

The third arrondissement saw the biggest drop in prices, falling 3.3% in a year. Only in the fourth arrondissement did prices increase very slightly, by 0.3%. 

“Prices in central districts usually fall the most because they are the most expensive and so the first to lose attractiveness when people start to look at other options on the outskirts,” Meilleurs Agents states. 

Thomas Lefebvre, scientific director at Meilleurs Agents, said that Paris is no longer profitable. 

“Whereas 18 months ago it was on its way to reaching €11,000 per square metre, by the end of 2021 it has ended up at less than €10,203 per square metre,” he said. 

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French property news: Our January 2022 round-up

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