Eco-renovations, Airbnb: Five updates for property owners in France

We also look at how mortgages are becoming longer and harder to obtain, many Ile-de-France properties risk being banned from rental market and more

We look at five updates affecting property owners in France
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Mortgages are growing longer and harder to obtain

The average length of a mortgage in France rose to a record 241.1 months (just over 20 years) in the third quarter of 2022, according to a new study from the Observatoire Crédit Logement/CSA.

This average had been at 238.1 months in the second quarter and 234 months between July and September 2021.

Last month, 65% of bank property loans were for a period of 20-25 years, which is a higher proportion than has ever been seen before. It was 46% in 2019, 47% in 2020 and 55% in 2021.

“No one, or hardly anyone has a loan for 10 years or even for 15 years,” Maël Bernier of comparison website told Merci pour l’info.

He also said that having a longer mortgage has often helped borrowers to reduce their monthly payments but that the rise in property prices and mortgage rates has diminished this benefit.

The Observatoire Crédit Logement/CSA study also found that mortgage rates were at 1.78% in the third quarter, against 1.4% in the second, 1.13% in the first and 1.05% in the third and fourth quarters of 2021.

In addition, the study stated that the number of loans being granted dropped by nearly 35% over a year in August and September.

This is largely due to the fact that banks are prevented from increasing their interest rates as much as they would like to because of the taux d’usure, which is the maximum rate at which interest and other associated fees can be applied to a mortgage.

However, this rate was increased at the beginning of October, which should make it easier for borrowers to find a mortgage, even if their interest rate is higher.

Many Ile-de-France properties will soon be off rental market without eco-renovations

Homes with the lowest energy efficiency ratings will soon be banned from the rental market unless they undergo renovations to make them more eco-friendly, and this new rule will have a significant effect on the Ile-de-France region.

From January 1, 2023, people who own properties with an energy efficiency rating (diagnostic de performance énergétique) of G – the lowest score possible – and which consume over 450kWH per square metre per year, will no longer be able to rent them out.

This rule will extend to all G-rated properties from 2025, all F-rated properties from 2028 and all E-rated properties from 2034.

A study carried out by the Institut Paris région and Insee and published on October 13 suggests that without energy renovation works, nearly one Ile-de-France home in two will soon be banned from the rental market by 2034.

Paris has more inefficient properties than other regions of France, at 45% compared to a national average of 40%.

In the capital region, nearly two thirds of homes under 40m² which were built before 1974 – the year that regulation came in to control the energy performance of homes – have an E, F or G rating, compared to 16% of those built after 2001.

“Legislators have very ambitious goals with regards to reducing property energy emissions, but little vision as to how it will happen,” Martin Omhovère of the Habitat et société department of the Institut Paris région told Le Monde.

“We need a huge education campaign for owners. Action is needed with real urgency.”

Another study carried out in September by the Fédération nationale de l’immobilier (Fnaim) found that less than a third of the owners of inefficient properties were choosing to carry out renovation works, largely because of the cost, but also because many needed approval from the Assemblée générale of their copropriété.

If they cannot rent out their properties, owners may choose to sell them, and Fnaim predicts that 500,000 homes with poor energy ratings, which are currently being rented out, are likely to be sold in the next six years.

Read more: Energy certificate rules could see house prices fall in France

Airbnb hosts can soon install noise alert systems

Airbnb is collaborating with noise sensor company Mînut to help its hosts install monitoring systems in their properties if they wish to.

Hosts will be able to obtain a sensor box for free and will have three months’ free subscription to the Mînut service, so that they can better anticipate disturbances and other problems and prevent neighbour complaints.

The property owner will receive an alert on their phone if the noise created by their guests exceeds a certain decibel level, and will therefore be able to act quickly.

“Mînut believes in the need to be good neighbours, wherever you are,” the company states.

A trial of this scheme was recently carried out in Prague, and found that in 100% of cases a solution to the noise was found within 20 minutes.

The sensors do not pick up or record conversations or other sounds, but are only triggered when the noise reaches a certain threshold.

Hosts are also obliged to tell their guests about the presence of the monitor in their Airbnb advert and are not allowed to put them in the bedrooms.

Defender of Rights criticises ‘serious, recurrent MaPrimeRénov’ malfunctions’

France’s Défenseure des droits (Defender of Rights) has received 500 complaints about the state’s MaPrimeRénov’ scheme in two years, and has criticised “serious, recurrent technical malfunctions” in the system.

France’s Defender of Rights is the head of an independent authority of the government, charged with defending the best interests of the population as well as fighting against conscious and inadvertant discrimination.

The current Défenseure des droits is Claire Hédon.

MaPrimeRénov’ was set up by the Agence nationale de l’habitat (Anah) in 2020, and aims to help people on low incomes to renovate their homes so that they are more energy efficient.

In its 2023 budget, the government has given €2.5billion over to the scheme, but people who use it often encounter problems when trying to access its digital portal.

Having to go through a website already creates issues for some people without access to the internet, and even those who do have a smartphone or computer experience problems with making an account, for example.

Some people were not able to file their grant applications before the renovation work began as a result of this problem, and were then told when they finally managed to create an account that they were too late.

Pauline Blanckaert made a claim for works costing €50,000 on a house she had just acquired in Oise. She was expecting to be paid €7,450 by Anah, but was then informed that she no longer had a right to the grant because of a “change in her geographical location”.

“That put us in a difficult, precarious situation, and it was tough mentally,” she told AFP.

Other people reported issues with editing their saved details once they had been entered, and not being able to access help over the phone.

Ms Hédon also made reference to “extremely long waiting times”.

Anah told AFP that it has taken the Defender of Rights’ comments into account, but added that an “immense majority of applications are processed without issues”, and that the scheme is a “success” which has benefited 1.25 million people.

It said that the average processing time is 15 working days.

19 people convicted of wide-scale property fraud

Some 19 people who acquired over 80 properties by obtaining loans using fake documents have been convicted to sentences going up to five years in prison by a Marseille court.

The frauds took place between 2007 and 2015, and the properties were quickly resold after often uncompleted work seeming to add to their value.

Sébastien Celea, 41, is seen as the leader of the activities. He was sentenced to five years in prison and banned from managing a business or practising a commercial or industrial profession in France.

His wife was sentenced to a year in prison, to be served under house arrest with an electronic tag, and a fine of €15,000.

Several properties have been seized, and two notaires from the south west of France have been given a suspended prison sentence of one year for complicity in money laundering.

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