Shed tax rise, renovation aid, rental prices: French property updates

We also look at the introduction of a mandatory logbook for home eco-renovations and how a chateau once visited by General de Gaulle is on sale for just €550,000

We look at five updates affecting property owners in France
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‘Garden shed tax’ hits all-time high

Putting up a garden shed is likely to be pricier this year after the government increased the base figure used to calculate its tax on installing these by 8%.

Any additions to a home or garden of more than 5m² and higher than (or equal to) 1m80 are subject to a so-called ‘garden shed tax’ in France (real name taxe d’aménagement).

This tax applies to extensions, sheds or swimming pools (as well as some outdoor parking areas and solar panels) requiring planning permission or a prior declaration of work.

Residents with existing buildings and sheds do not have to pay again – it is a one-off tax.

Read more: New shed or pool at your French home? Remember the taxe d’aménagement

To calculate the amount owed there is a 'base' fixed by the government.

It is this part of the tax that has risen, in line with the construction cost index established by the national statistics institute Insee.

The 'bases' for the period January 1 to December 31, 2023 are €1,004 for communes in the Ile-de-France region (up from €929 in 2022) and €886 everywhere else (up from €820 in 2022).

This is the seventh time the tax has increased since it was introduced in 2012. Back then, the amounts were €748 and €660 respectively.

To arrive at the final tax bill this base is multiplied by the number of square metres of surface area, then a percentage rate (set by the commune, usually at around 1-5%) is applied to the figure obtained.

To help you calculate the amount of the tax, the government provides an online simulator.

Note that some kinds of work have other, specific rates, such as swimming pools and solar panels.

However, last November it was announced that the flat rate to build pools will also rise – from €200 to €250 per square metre.

The legislation was initially intended to affect other ‘installations spécifiques’, including caravan and tent pitches, ground-based photovoltaic panels and wind turbines.

However, an amendment approved on the same day excluded these from the increase, pointing out that in the context of soaring raw material and energy costs any rise could be detrimental to campsites and other holiday businesses.

Given the government’s commitment to sustainability, it was also deemed “contradictory” to increase taxation of renewable energy installations.

Renovation grants get more generous to reflect price rises

From February 1, ceilings on the work that can be financed by government grants under France’s MaPrimeRénov' home renovation grant scheme will increase.

Minister for Ecological Transition Christophe Béchu said in a statement that the move was “to take account of inflation and to encourage comprehensive renovations".

Energy renovation on communal areas of shared ownership blocks, which falls under the MaPrimeRénov’ Copropriétés scheme, will see the maximum cost of work that can be financed rise from €15,000 to €25,000.

The MaPrimeRénov’ Sérénité scheme, which is intended for low-income homeowners who carry out renovation work that results in an energy saving of at least 35%, will see its ceiling raised from €30,000 to €35,000.

Finally, aid for comprehensive renovation (rénovations globales) for households with middle and higher incomes will be raised to €10,000 and €5,000 respectively.

Read more: Explained: How to apply for a renovation grant for your French home

Another change this year is that as of January 1, MaPrimeRénov' will no longer subsidise the purchase of gas boilers including those with very high energy performance.

The government said the decision was made "with the objective of gradually reducing our dependence on fossil fuels".

The MaPrimeRénov' scheme was set up in 2020 and is managed by the National Housing Agency (Anah). It has a budget of €2.5billion for 2023.

Read more: Grant to renovate French homes is extended with a bigger budget

It is now the main state aid for renovating properties to make them more energy efficient, with almost 1.5 million households benefiting since its launch.

However, the scheme has attracted criticism in recent months for being overly complex, slow to pay out and difficult for people to contact.

The official consumer watchdog, the Défenseur des droits, revealed last October that it has received nearly 500 complaints by applicants since MaPrimeRénov' was launched, and said the issues had caused grave difficulties for the most vulnerable people.

Why you now need a house ‘logbook’ for energy renovations

Homeowners looking to carry out work on their property to boost its energy performance will now have to record the changes in a logbook.

The book, called a carnet d'information du logement or CIL, should track details of all significant energy improvement works carried out since January 1, 2023, when it became mandatory.

Read more: Energy audits, tax, grants: What is new for property in France in 2023

Renovation work considered to have a significant impact on energy performance includes:

  • thermal insulation of roofs, external walls, low floors and doors leading outside;

  • the installation, regulation or replacement of heating or cooling systems, including any associated energy-efficient ventilation systems;

  • the installation of heating or domestic hot water equipment using a renewable energy source.

All new residential buildings and extensions built from January 1, 2023 must also come with a CIL.

The aim of the book is to let future buyers see what work has been carried out on a property to enhance energy performance and what remains to be done.

It is in addition to the mandatory diagnoses required when a property is put up for sale or rent, including the diagnostic de performance énergétique (DPE) for energy performance.

The onus is on builders to convey details for the logbook when they finish the renovation work.

"It is a good thing for tenants, for people who buy, but it is also good for us, the building companies," David Morales, vice-president of Capeb, an association representing tradespersons, told BFM.

"It is not always easy, once the interior is inhabited, to see what has been done or not done without making holes everywhere.”

Details in the logbook might include: a list and characteristics of the materials used when they have a direct impact on energy performance; operating, maintenance and servicing instructions for relevant equipment installed; an energy audit of the property.

Dates and a description of the work carried out should be included.

For new buildings, the information booklet contains: surface plans of the property; diagrams and descriptions of the water, electricity, gas and ventilation systems; and operating, maintenance and servicing instructions for the works that have a direct impact on the energy performance of the dwelling.

It is the owner or building manager’s responsibility to update the logbook, and it must be passed on to new owners when the property is sold.

Depending on the owner's choice, the CIL can take the form of a notebook, a binder or a digital document.

The logbook is one of a raft of measures introduced as part of the 2021 Loi climat et résilience.

It applies to shared ownership residential buildings (copropriétés) as well as houses and flats.

Interactive maps let you to see average rental prices near you

It is now possible to see the average rental income of properties per commune, thanks to a series of interactive online maps.

Published by the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion last month (December 15), the maps are useful not only for tenants and those looking for property to let but also landlords to help them decide on a fair rental price.

The maps provide information on the price per square metre, including charges, for houses and flats in the private rental sector across the country.

The prices are based on properties put up for rent in the third quarter of 2022, the ministry says on its website.

Read more: How to find the price of a property that has sold near you in France

The maps give an overview of the average amounts per square metre for: a typical flat; a typical studio or one-bedroom flat; and a typical flat with three rooms or more; and a typical house.

"Until now, there has been no rent indicator covering the whole of France with a transparent calculation methodology", says the ministry.

It worked with the National Agency for Housing Information (Anil) to create the maps as part of "an unprecedented partnership with the SeLoger group and LeBonCoin".

In France, the average monthly rent for a house is €8.20 per square metre, compared with €9.38 for a flat, according to Anil figures.

Read more: Rent prices in France frozen for least energy efficient properties

The steepest rents are in Paris, where a house in the 16th arrondissement will fetch €28.35 per square metre per month, reports BFM, as well as in six communes in the Hauts-de-Seine department.

Some 48 communes in the Vosges and Haute-Marne share the bottom of the house rankings, with an estimated price per square metre of €5.18.

For flats, the cheapest are in Darney in the Vosges (€5.75 per square metre) and the most expensive in Paris’s 4th arrondissement (€33.07 per square metre).

Read also: Why French property prices are expected to fall 5-10% in 2023

Normandy chateau frequented by General de Gaulle on sale for €550,000

The 19th century chateau is near Louviers in Eure. Photo credit: Denniel Immobilier

Not many properties can boast a presidential pedigree, which is why a French estate agent is making the most of a tenuous link to Charles de Gaulle in one of its listings.

It is said the late statesman stayed one night at the chateau near Louviers (Eure), occupying one of nine bedrooms on the second floor.

Even without the political connection, the 19th century property has more than enough features to woo house-hunters looking for some historic appeal.

It is on the market for €550,000, for which buyers will get three additional bedrooms, bringing the total to 12, plus cellars, storerooms, a workshop, fruit store, dovecote, carriage house, stables and a park set in one hectare of land behind attractive entrance gates.

The outbuildings also include a smaller property with three bedrooms and a bathroom.

The design of the house borrows much from earlier centuries, including a pair of oeil-de-boeuf windows (small circular or oval windows) on the brick-and-stone façade.

Why the low price? The property is in need of complete restoration, having been unoccupied for several years.

Dry rot has also been spotted and a masonry problem on the façade needs to be “resolved quickly”.

Denniel Immobilier, an agency specialising in the sale of atypical properties with historic or artistic cachet, says a promesse de vente has already been signed, but they nevertheless encourage anyone interested to contact them to see how the sale is progressing.

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