Empty home tax, tree fine, free home audit: French property round up

Our round-up sees a man fined €6,000 for cutting down a neighbour’s tree, rising home insurance costs and a new notaire initiative in the south-west

We look at four property stories from the last week
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More communes vote to charge ‘empty property’ tax

Hundreds of new communes have voted to levy tax on empty homes.

Known as the taxe d'habitation sur les logements vacants, it is levied on homes that have been unused and unfurnished (so not ready to live in) for at least two years.

Unlike some other local taxes, it is not based on housing shortages, and can be levied in any commune, providing local authorities vote for it.

One area where the tax is expected to be applied en masse in 2024 is the Pays-Basque, where over 100 communes as part of the larger communal agglomeration voted to enact it.

Read more: Hundreds more areas in France to levy ‘vacant home’ tax: what is this?

Fine for cutting down tree on neighbour’s land

A man has been fined €6,000 for cutting down a tree on his neighbour’s property – because it ‘spoiled his view of the sea.’

The neighbour who owned the land where the tree stood took the neighbour to court. The tree had been planted by her grandfather 70 years ago.

The court ruled the man broke strict biodiversity laws in cutting the tree down.

A new tree has been planted in its place.

Read more: Man fined €6,000 for cutting down neighbour’s tree in northern France

Toulouse notaires offer free auditing service

Notaires in the south-west of France have set up ‘Mon Bilan Immo’, a free auditing service to help people selling their home.

The free service offers a ‘mini-audit’ by a notaire with expertise in the local area, and includes help with compiling the necessary documents to sell the home.

Notaires can also put sellers in contact with trusted local estate agents.

It is available in four departments in the south-west including Haute-Garonne (in which Toulouse is situated), but could expand if successful.

It is hoped the service will kickstart the local property market, giving sellers the confidence to put their home up for sale.

Read more: Notaires offer free auditing service for French properties

Home insurance rises 5%, with regional variations

The average annual cost of home insurance has risen by 5%, although variations of up to €30 are found between different regions.

Alongside costs that affect all regions (inflation in the prices of fuel and materials, more expensive labour costs), regional differences including the risk of adverse weather phenomena contributes to the variation in local prices.

The south-west has the highest average cost due in part to the high number of homes at risk of drought damage; Brittany has the lowest.

Read more: 5% rise in home insurance but wide variations across France