French property updates: Point system to limit second homes, form tips

We also look at a couple’s issues over the ‘delivery guarantee’ for a newly built home and the continuing row over cooking smells from a crêperie

This week’s property wrap focuses largely on new build woes, but has some good news for first-time buyers in Brittany
Published Last updated

Points system is pushback against second-home ownership

A village in Brittany has introduced a points-based system to prevent excessive second-home ownership.

Plumaudan, north west of Rennes, implemented the system to prioritise first-time buyers that already live in the area.

First-time buyers are given additional points in the scheme, alongside younger couples with families (so as to keep the local school with a supply of pupils).

Those interested in purchasing are also invited to submit a letter of motivation explaining why they wish to move to the village.

It came after a number of plots of a new housing development in the village were snapped up as second homes.

The second tranche of sales for the development will see the points system introduced.

Since Covid the commune has become more attractive for second homes, as people seek the peace of the countryside, said the commune’s mayor, Laurance Gallée. But, she added, the priority must now be to young local first-time buyers.

Brittany is the region with the fourth-highest second-home ownership in France, but the majority of these owners come from the region itself (as Plumaudan has experienced).

Read also: Eight key takeaways from French study into second homes in Brittany

Combining people from Brittany and the nearby Pays de la Loire, over 50% of second-homes are owned by those local to the regions, dispelling the myth that second-homes in the area are exclusively for Parisian holidaymakers.

Even if the second-home owners live much closer to the properties, their general absence during the week or outside of holiday season still damages the communities where they purchase residencies.

‘It is a disaster’: Historic low of new property reservations in first quarter of 2023

Fewer than 20,000 reservations were made for newly built properties between January and March this year, according to France’s ministry of ecological transition.

The figure spells further trouble for France’s already precarious property market.

The 19,487 reservations made over the time period is down 41% in comparison with the first quarter in 2022 – and lower than even the second quarter of 2020 when France was in the midst of a full lockdown.

The lack of reservations is a further blow to building companies, which are already contending with rocketing construction costs.

“It’s a disaster,” said Pascal Boulanger, the president of the Fédération des promoteurs immobiliers (Federation of Property Developers).

“In the next few weeks, you will see problems arise very quickly. I'm starting to have companies calling me and saying 'help',” he added.

In particular, first-time buyers are being put off making reservations due to rising mortgage costs and difficulty in accessing property loans.

The fall in reservations has affected both flats and houses, and hit all parts of the country.

The hardest hit area was the ‘B1’ zone, which saw a 48% fall in reservations. This zone covers mid-sized cities such as Bordeaux, Rennes, and Strasbourg, and the outskirts of larger cities like Lille and Lyon.

Read also: How to know which French housing zone you live in and what it changes

The government announced recently that increasing the available housing stock is a priority for the 2024 budget.

Recent notaire data shows that it is not just the new property market struggling, but also established properties. The prices of non-new build houses dropped in several cities or towns in northern France during the last quarter of 2022.

Read more: Latest data on how house prices have changed in your corner of France

Advice on completing property declaration without internet

The June 30 deadline for France’s new property declaration is fast approaching but a number of homeowners are yet to complete the form due to internet access difficulties.

For the majority of people, the form is to be completed through accessing their online tax space at the website, where you can find the form under the Gérer mes biens immobiliers section.

Authorities have reminded property owners however, that there are two solutions for those in internet ‘white zones’ (with little to no internet), those without the necessary online skills, or those who do not have an online tax space.

The first of these is to call the Services des Impôts for free on 0809 401 401 – although this number only works if you call from France. An advisor will complete the form for you over the phone.

Read also: Is there a way to call French 0800 numbers from outside of France?

Alternatively, you can make a face-to-face appointment at your local France services centre, after which an advisor will complete the declaration for you during a face-to-face appointment. To do this, however, you will need to prove your identity via your numéro fiscal.

It is also possible to visit your local tax office, where someone will help you complete the form – but to do this you will need to make an appointment via the internet.

You can find The Connexion’s list of resources relating to the property declaration here.

Legal expert must assess noise and smell complaints against crêperie

A court has ruled that a legal expert must assess the claims of strong smells and loud noises coming from a Breton crêperie after continued complaints from a disgruntled neighbour.

The owners of the Crêperie du Pêcheur in Cap d'Erquy (Côtes-d'Armor) had received complaints of “smoke emanating from the kitchen and the smell of fried food” by a nearby resident – who they discovered had a history of complaining about restaurants on the site.

The neighbour had bought a property – originally used as a second home – in the area in 2000, before the building that is now the Crêperie du Pêcheur became an eatery in 2009.

Since then the resident has made a number of complaints, regarding the smell and noise coming from the restaurant.

The current owners, who purchased the building in 2019, have spent more than €170,000 on renovations to limit disturbances for the neighbour, as well as asking a mediator to amicably resolve the issue last year.

The resident was unsatisfied, however, and in January 2023 had a bailiff issue the restaurant owners a court summons over the issue.

A petition supporting the restaurant owners was created, which has been signed by more than 110,000 people.

Read our previous article: Brittany crêperie taken to court... for smelling of crêpes

As a result of the petition the story gained national media attention, with many taking the side of the restaurant owners and mocking the resident’s complaints.

The court ruled on May 11, however, the plaintiff’s request for a legal expert is valid.

“After three months of being ridiculed [on social media], the courts have ruled in our favour,” said the plaintiff Mr Boquet after the ruling.

For their part, the restaurant owners are determined to continue to fight to keep their establishment open.

“We are annoyed, but not discouraged. We'll go all the way, we won't give up: we're here to work, not to sink,” said co-owner Mr Polge.

Court rules ‘delivery guarantee’ insurance does not cover all construction costs

France’s highest level court has ruled that the garantie de livraison (delivery guarantee) taken out when purchasing a newly-built property does not cover costs such as temporary accommodation and removal if a property is deemed faulty after moving in.

The ‘delivery guarantee’ is an insurance that guarantees that you will be financially able to insure the completion of the work being carried out at your property should an issue occur.

This is generally taken out at a bank, but also through a building company. You can find out more about the garantie de livraison on the government website service public (in French).

The Court of Cassation ruling comes after a couple moved into a new property, but soon noticed a number of defects with the property so severe it had to be demolished and reconstructed.

They assumed the delivery guarantee would cover all costs associated (including short-term accommodation and moving expenses during and after reconstruction), but the court ruled the guarantee only covers construction costs “unless [extras are] specifically provided for.”

After being billed for these additional costs, the building guarantor complained that the charges were excessive – and the court agreed.

The only costs required for the insurer to pay were building costs from expert reports on the demolition and reconstruction of the property, and no other costs, even if deemed “essential” by the property owners.

Other costs – including that of construction work the couple had started themselves – were deemed outside the scope of the delivery guarantee, alongside all non-material costs relating to the property.

In light of the ruling, the court urged those purchasing a newly-built property to check what is entailed by their insurer’s contract and delivery guarantee before signing any documents.

Read also: Nine tips for managing a French home renovation project yourself

Read also

How do I get a numéro fiscal to access the French tax site?