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Shutters, apartment prices: Five updates for property owners in France

We also look at government intentions to extend energy efficiency-related rental bans to holiday lets, the demolition of an illegal house and more

We look at news affecting property owners in France this week Pic: DedMityay / Olivier Le Moal / Yulia Kupeli / NeydtStock / Shutterstock

Mairie demands that resident change shutter colour 

A mairie in Oise has required a local resident who had just repainted their shutters to change the colour, as the shade of turquoise they had chosen went against the commune’s Plan local d’urbanisme (development plan). 

Stéphane Fitère of Vieux-Moulin told Le Parisien: “I got planning permission to build the house and I did not think that I would also need authorisation to change the colour of the shutters!”.  

He received seven letters from the mairie and more from the local community of communes authority, as well as an architect from Bâtiments de France. One of the letters stated that the case would be passed onto a public prosecutor if he did not change the shutters. 

Bâtiments de France architects are experts in conserving French architectural heritage, who must be consulted when work is planned on or near listed buildings. 

Read more: Make sense of... Bâtiments de France

Mr Fitère’s house is located next to a church and it is for this reason that Bâtiments de France became involved, as it has the power to decide the colour the shutters should be. 

However, the mairie is currently allowing Mr Fitère to choose the colour from a specific palette which varies depending on the type of building. 

“My house could be described as a forester’s lodge, a farmhouse and a property in the soissonnais style… It ticks several boxes in the architectural recommendations document for the Pays compiégnois,” Mr Fitère said, adding that the shade he chose is included in those recommended. 

He said that he would not be changing his shutters. 

French law states that each region has specific requirements with regards to colours. In addition, any modification to the external appearance of a building is subject to a déclaration préalable de travaux (prior approval). 

When work involves repainting shutters with the same colour, no authorisation is required. 

This does not apply if the colour is to be changed.

In addition, if the house is near a historic monument, heritage site or within a national park, Bâtiments de France must be consulted.  

In copropriétés, each apartment must have the same colour shutters to avoid clashes.

Over 80% of Paris residents could not buy a 50m² flat

More than 82% of the people who live in Paris would not be able to afford a 50m² apartment, a new study by the Meilleurs Agents property price estimation website has suggested. 

The average price of a Paris flat exceeds €10,000 per square metre, and mortgage interest rates are expected to go beyond 3% in 2023, which only compounds this inaccessibility. 

The proportion of Parisian residents who cannot afford to buy has risen by 1.8% since the beginning of the year, and is estimated to reach 84% in 2023. 

“The rise in interest rates remains significant in the capital, while property buying power [the number of square metres a household can afford] is among the lowest rates in France at 24m²,” Meilleurs Agents states. 

Largely as a result of people’s inability to buy, properties are now spending longer on the market. Currently, a home would be sold after around 68 days on average, compared to 44 days in August 2020.

Prefecture orders demolition of illegally built house and pool

A prefecture in Gard has arranged for the demolition of a house, swimming pool and double garage which were all built illegally in a restricted area. 

A court ruled in 2019 that the development – situated in the commune of Bernis, near Nîmes – was not permitted as it was in a zone naturelle (green belt). 

The court ordered that the land be returned to its previous state, but this was not carried out, and so the departmental prefect Marie-Françoise Lecaillon, took matters into her own hands.

Demolition vehicles were sent to the site on October 20. 

Ms Lecaillon commented that this type of illegal construction wreaks “sometimes irreversible damage” on the local environment. 

Gard has formed a Comité de lutte contre des constructions illégales (Committee fighting against illegal buildings), which is charged with educating local residents and officials. 

Further demolitions are planned in the coming months. 

France wants to extend passoire thermique rental ban to holiday lets 

France’s government could seek to extend the incoming ban on renting out properties with the lowest energy efficiency ratings to holiday lets, which have thus far been excluded.

This was announced by Minister Delegate for Housing Olivier Klein on BFM Business

Under the Loi Climat et résilience, people who own properties which consume over 450kWH per square metre per year – described as ‘passoires thermiques’ in France, will no longer be able to rent them out on long-term contracts. 

This rule will extend to all properties with an energy efficiency rating (Diagnostic de performance énergétique) of G – the lowest possible score – from 2025, all F-rated properties from 2028 and all E-rated properties from 2034.

So far, holiday rentals have not been included in the measures. 

Read more: Home energy efficiency: Key dates for property owners in France

Mr Klein said that he wants to prevent the landlords of G- and F-rated properties from converting them to holiday lets so that they can keep renting them out.

“The owners of passoires thermiques cannot be allowed to hide. The rules will be the same for furnished and unfurnished properties,” he said. 

Hanging out laundry from balconies banned in another commune 

The residents of Valbonne, a commune near Nice (Alpes-Maritimes), are no longer allowed to hang their washing out from their windows or balconies between 09:00 and 22:00. 

The local authority says that it has taken this decision to keep the historic centre of the town looking neat. 

People breaking the new rule will risk a €35 fine. Residents have launched a petition against the decision. 

Bans on hanging laundry from balconies and windows are not uncommon in France, with Béziers, Fontainebleau and other towns having already introduced such measures. 

It is also generally forbidden to hang laundry out from flats within copropriétés

Related articles 

9 changes for residents and second-home owners in France November 2022

Time to sell not buy property in France advise majority of notaires

Paris sells French chateau and holiday village for just over €200,000

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