Second homes – an idea from France

“A council surcharge of up to 60 per cent is being imposed on second homeowners in some areas in an attempt to prompt them to sell up.”

Tax shock for Britons with second homes in cities and resorts in France

Adam Sage, Paris www.thetimes.co.uk 

Britons with second homes in cities and resorts in France are facing local tax rises after becoming caught up in a drive to lower property prices in holiday destinations.

A council surcharge of up to 60 per cent is being imposed on second homeowners in some areas in an attempt to prompt them to sell up.

Mayors hope it will increase the number of houses and flats on the market and reverse price rises. Critics accuse them of using second homeowners to top up budgets with tax increases of several hundred euros a year.

A total of 86,000 Britons have second homes in France, according to the French National Institute for Economic Studies and Statistics.

Those with properties in rural France will be unaffected by the surcharge, which can only be imposed in areas with housing “tensions” under a 2015 French law.

But the 8,600 with second homes in Alpine ski resorts are likely to be hit, as are those with properties in Biarritz and other parts of the southwest coast, Nice, Lyons and Bordeaux.

Anne Hidalgo, Paris’s Socialist party mayor, put a 60 per cent surcharge on the tax paid by owners of the 126,000 second homes in the city in 2017. The average council tax bill in France is about €1,000 a year.

She claims the measure has forced 5 per cent of second homeowners to sell. Other councils have adopted similar policies, such as Lyons, Bordeaux and resorts on the Atlantic coast.

The move is more aimed at Parisians, who have been buying second homes in record numbers since last year’s lockdowns. They are accused of making housing unaffordable for locals. In the French Basque country several estate agents have been vandalised with graffiti that says: “Parisians, go home.”

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