French towns take action to reduce percentage of second homes

A new town is to offer ‘tiny homes’ to rent all year round from just €100 per month. Around 25 other French communes are working on similar projects

A view of someone holding a key with a small model house keyring on it
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Another French town is joining a growing trend of taking action to reduce the percentage of local second homes and boost all-year-round affordable housing.

It is building a ‘small hamlet’ of flat-pack homes that it will rent out for just €100 per month to permanent residents in a bid to reduce the growing proportion of second homes.

The homes in La Pesse in Haut-Jura (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté) will be owned by the local authority but rented to permanent residents for between €100 to €250 each per month.

The plan is intended to attract new residents while allowing the authority to retain control of its land, provide low-cost housing to people who need it, increase the permanent local population and so improve the local community, and reduce the proportion of second-home owners.

The homes - from the association Hameaux Légers - will measure under 40m2 (430.5 sq ft), with garden space of 200m2 (2,153 sq ft) and will include everything residents need to live comfortably.

By 2026, the goal is to have five to 10 homes built, with the council re-buying the land so it can rent the homes to the first owners.

Average house ‘now costs €400,000 to €500,000’

It comes after deputy mayor, Julien Carnot, said that the average house price in the area - which is close to popular ski areas - is now between €400,000 and €500,000. Around 40% of the housing stock is now made up of second homes, he told Capital.

La Pesse is not the only town to be working on a ‘Hameaux Légers’ project or similar; in fact, 25 other towns are doing the same, and the initiative is already working successfully in Brittany, the group said.

The project is related to the ‘tiny house movement’, which is growing internationally, especially in the US, Australia, and New Zealand; but also in the UK and Europe. It sees people building and living in very small spaces in a bid to save costs, go mortgage-free, use more sustainable materials, reduce their possessions, and embrace a more creative, ‘off-grid’ way of living.

Typically, a ‘tiny house’ measures no more than 37m2 (just under 400 sq ft). In a nod to the international nature of the movement, in French, living in a tiny house is often simply called ‘vivre en tiny house’.