Garden pool and veranda taxes, squatters: Four French property updates

We also look at a simulator to calculate the taxe d'aménagement due on new garden constructions and when it could make sense to change mortgage insurance contract

This week we look at taxes on pools and other garden structures, a call for mayors to have squatter eviction powers, electric car charging stations and a change to mortgage insurance laws
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What taxes apply to swimming pools, verandas and pergolas?

With this summer being the second hottest in France since record began, many people have decided to utilise their gardens for shade and refreshment.

This has meant many people building swimming pools, verandas, pergolas and more.

But these installations can mean taxes, depending on what you build.

Here, we summarise what taxes you need to pay on the most popular garden constructions, roughly how much the taxes will be and also how to use the government’s price simulator to calculate the taxe d'aménagement (if it is applicable).

Swimming pools

There are two main taxes to consider for swimming pools: the taxe foncière and the taxe d’aménagement.

Swimming pools that can be described as permanent structures, meaning that they are not inflatable or cannot be easily dismantled and moved, will likely add value to the property meaning that they will increase the taxe foncière.

This includes in-ground and above-ground pools.

Some French news sources say that pools under 10 square metres will not increase the taxe foncière, but the government’s tax website does not specify this.

The Direction générale des finances publiques (DGFiP) has said that an average pool of 30 square metres will lead to an increase in the taxe foncière of around €200.

If you declare your pool to the tax authorities 90 days after the end of the construction work, you will normally benefit from a two-year taxe foncière exemption.

Read more: Undeclared swimming pool detection system to be used across France

Read more: How much of our tax bill is due to having a swimming pool?

The other tax that can apply to swimming pools is the taxe d’aménagement, the so-called ‘garden shed’ tax.

This one-off tax is paid on most constructions requiring authorisation from the council, whether formal planning permission or just prior declaration.

This tax also applies to swimming pools over 10 square metres.

Pool design company Piscinelle states that for a pool of 50 square metres the taxe d’aménagement will have cost around €425 in 2021, depending on which department the property was in.

Finally, the addition of a swimming pool could end up increasing the taxe d’habitation on a property. This tax is being phased out and by 2023, no household will pay any taxe d’habitation on their main residence.

Second-home owners are still subject to this tax.

Read more: Who still has to pay the taxe d’habitation in France in 2022?

Verandas and pergolas

The DGFiP states: “A veranda is enclosed by glass walls and often equipped with a heating system. It can be lived in and furnished. It is therefore taxable.”

It means that the addition of a veranda will increase the taxe foncière. This only applies to verandas with a surface area of above 20 square metres.

For constructions over 20 square metres, the amount it will increase the tax by varies according to the size and the commune the property is in. You can benefit from a two-year exemption from this tax if you declare it to the tax authorities within 90 days of its construction.

A veranda will also increase the taxe d’habitation if still applicable to the household.

Read more: Who still has to pay the taxe d’habitation in France in 2022?

The taxe d’aménagement applies to all verandas with a surface area greater than five square metres and a ceiling height greater than or equal to 1.80 metres.

Pergolas on the other hand are usually exempt from the taxe d’aménagement because they are not closed structures.

Note though, if the pergola can be closed up using a mechanism or fixed shutters then it could be subject to taxes.

You can read more about taxes on pergolas in a previous property round up at this link.

Taxe d’aménagement simulator

You can use this government simulator to calculate how much the taxe d’aménagement may cost you on a garden construction: Simulez la taxe d'aménagement de votre projet.

You need to provide details of your project, such as the type of construction, the dimensions, which commune you live in, etc.

It should give you an idea of how much the taxe d’aménagement will cost you.

Mayors should be able to help deal with squatters, says MP

A French MP plans to propose a draft bill that will allow mayors to intervene in case of a squatting incident.

Philippe Pradal, an MP in the third circonscription in Nice (Alpes-Maritimes), said he plans to table the bill in mid-September.

There are two different procedures in place to reclaim a property that has been taken over by squatters in France. One is by judicial means, meaning it must go through courts. This can often take a very long time.

The second procedure is administrative, which means by going through local prefectures.

While new laws have come in recently to make this administrative procedure easier, such as giving prefectures a 48-hour time limit to respond to squatter claims and also allowing bailiffs (huissiers) to help in the process, it can still be tricky.

Romain Rossi-Landi, an avocat specialising in property law, previously told The Connexion:

“I have had cases where prefects have worked hard to move squatters and it has taken a year or more. Cases are complicated because the prefect has to be sure alternative accommodation is available and check the veracity of claims made by the squatters, who might produce false rental agreements, for example.”

Read more: France’s new anti-squatter laws will be 'hard to implement'

Read more: Bailiffs use updated French law to evict squatters from second homes

Mr Pradal said he hopes that giving more powers to the commune’s mayor will help facilitate the squatter eviction process.

“What I have seen is that victims of squats will spontaneously ask their mayors for help," he told Le Figaro.

“They probably do this because they do not understand the law or because they have a close connection to the mayor but the mayor has no legislative powers to evict squatters.”

He also intends to include in the bill stricter punishments for squatters.

He wants the prison sentence for convicted squatters increased from one year to three years and the fine increased from €15,000 to €45,000.

Change mortgage insurance at any time

Mortgage insurance contracts can be changed at any time by anyone in France as of today (September 1).

This new rule was already in place for people who started their contracts on or after June 1 of this year and is now extended to include everyone with mortgage insurance.

Previously, it could only be changed once a year, on the anniversary of the contract signing.

While the new law opens up the possibility for people to change insurers more easily and potentially get better deals, it will not be the case for everyone.

Changing insurers will only suit certain people

Astrid Cousin, spokesperson for mortgage insurance comparison company Magnolia, said that changing insurers will only suit certain people.

She said changing insurers could be interesting for people who are under 50 years old, your mortgage insurance contract is less than 10 years old and you have already paid back at least half of your mortgage.

For people in a different situation, they risk ending up with higher insurance if they decide to change.

Another element to consider is health. If you have developed a long-term illness since signing your insurance contract, it is best not to change as you would risk paying more.

On the other hand, a new rule that came into effect this year means that people who have had cancer or hepatitis C no longer need to declare their illness to insurers if they have been in remission for five years. Previously, this was 10 years.

It means that for people who have now been in remission for between five to 10 years, it could be worth changing insurer.

Read more: Historic change to mortgage insurance in France starts today

Read more: Recovered cancer patients in France set to have easier access to loans

French apartment blocks ill-equipped with electric car chargers

Only around 2% of apartment blocks – the equivalent of 10,000 spaces – have an electric charging station for cars, which is having an impact on the move towards electric vehicles in France.

Clément Molizon, general delegate of Avere-France, an association for the development of electric transport options, said that 44% of people in France live in apartment buildings but 70% of private electric charging points are set up at detached or semi-detached homes.

Any landlord with a property in an apartment block can choose to install a charging station at their own cost.

But Mathias Laffont, director of studies at the Union Française de l'Electricité, says many do not know this.

“There is still a fear among some flat owners that they will have to pay for others, slowing down installation requests,” he said.

Often landlords in an apartment block have to chip in to pay for communal work or renovations to the building.

There are also certain financial aids that landlords can apply for to help cover some of the costs of installation of the charging stations, such as Logivolt Territoires or Advenir.

After the grants, it will cost a person around €700 - €900 to install a charging station.

Read more: Electric cars: northern France to become battery-making corridor

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