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PROPERTY

French property news: Getting a property loan extension and dealing with noisy neighbours

From interest-free property loans, to noise laws in the countryside and an invitation to Nice, here is our weekly French property roundup.

French property village
Photo: Sebastian Bozon/AFP

Interest-free loans

The 2022 Budget is making its way through the French parliament, and now contains several measures to make buying or renovating property in France easier.

Included in the budget are extensions to interest-free loans for buying or renovating property, as well as a loan scheme for people in certain areas who want to renovate and then rent out property.

READ ALSO 3 ways the 2022 Budget makes it easier to buy or rent French property

‘Crisis is behind us’

After a difficult 18 months, French real estate agents have declared that “the crisis seems to be behind us”.

While lockdown made moving house largely impossible, the property market has picked up in recent months, with the health crisis even creating new markets, as people move out of the cities to get more space in rural areas.

Even within the office rental sector, which many feared would be hard-hit by ongoing trends for remote working, agents say demand is returning in the cities.

Let’s move to . . . Nice

The southern French city of Nice has a lot of obvious attractions, not least that it is the sunniest metropolis in France. But in addition to its beautiful architecture, world-famous seafront and great weather there are some other good reasons to move there, one of which is that it consistently tops polls for being among the most welcoming places in France for new arrivals.

And for Brits there is the added fact that it is the ‘most British’ town in France – that’s according to the mayor, who in 2019 wrote this delightful essay celebrating his city’s links with the UK.

Rural noises

If you prefer more of a rural location, it’s probably best not to complain about the noises and smells you encounter.

France now has a law to protect its ‘rural heritage’ which includes traditional noises like church bells,  crowing cockerels and frogs mating, as well as some of the smells that you might encounter in the countryside.

The law came after a series of legal cases where people sued their neighbours over noise or smells from animals, or lodged complaints about noisy church bells.

French property vocab

Urbanisme is key. If you’re planning a building or renovation project, then the Plan locale d’urbanisme could be an important document. This is a local policy document that sets out things like which areas can be built on and which are business and residential zones.

Not all areas have these, but if you’re buying with the intention of changing something – whether it’s an extension, a new build or converting a barn into a home – make sure you check first whether it will be allowed according to the local plan.

Property tip of the week 

If you’re buying an old property it’s highly likely that the windows will need replacing to eliminate drafts – but if you’re replacing old, ill-fitting windows with modern double-glazed ones then this will increase the energy efficiency of your property, and could mean you’re entitled to one of France’s many eco grants to cover at least some of the cost.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

Checklist: What you need to do if you move house in France

From the tax office to the post office, internet firms and pets - who you need to tell when you move house in France

Checklist: What you need to do if you move house in France

Whether you’re moving down the street, to the other side of town, or to a different département, the administrative scale of the task is almost as big as the physical side – and at least as stressful, unless  – on actual moving day – you lose the kettle and can’t make a cup of tea.

The job of moving house gets more difficult the closer you get to moving day, and it’s easy to forget or put off those administrative jobs you have to do. So, here’s a list of those annoying red tape jobs you need to consider in good time. 

1. Give notice to your landlord

If you’re renting your current property, you need to give either one month or three months’ notice – depending on the type and location of the property rental –  that you’re moving out, and arrange with your landlord a suitable time to carry out an état des lieux of the property, similar to the one carried out when you moved in.

2. Schools

Parents of school-age children attending state-run schools must notify the establishment if they move out of its catchment area, and find a new school for their children within eight days of moving. 

Under certain circumstances children will be able finish the school year in the establishment they attended before the change of residence.

The first step is to contact the town hall in the town you are moving to. The full rules, including those for children in private education or who are home schooled are here.

3.Tell the taxman – and other administrative bodies

The taxman needs to know you’re moving – if only to send your next tax form to the right address. 

You can inform tax officials of the fact and date of your move online, by logging into your Personal area on the impots.gouv.fr website

Here, at least, there’s some additional good news. France has set up a system in which you can tell a number of administrative offices – including the tax office, EDF, Pôle emploi, and Caf – that you’re moving house with one online form. Find it here.

4. Residence permit

Anyone living in France on a residence permit – such as Britons who have a post-Brexit Carte de séjour – needs to update the address on it.

The process can be completed online.

5. Driving licence and carte grise

Sadly, for technical reasons, declarations of change of contact details to the Vehicle Registration System with an effective date after June 30, 2022, aren’t currently included in the one form, all admin system mentioned above.

So, to change the registered address of your vehicle on its carte grise, you need to go to the ANTS website

Bizarrely, there is no rush to change the address on your driver’s license.  You can leave it until you apply for a new one (for example, if you lose it, or it expires) – and there’s no dedicated ‘change of address’ option on the driver’s licence application section of the ANTS website.

6. Utilities

You need to contact your electricity and gas supplier, as well as the water company and whoever operates your telephone, TV, internet package.

Be aware, if your current internet operator is unable to supply your new home, you can request the termination of your subscription free of charge.

Don’t forget your bank, either. 

7. New GP

You may want to change your GP – especially if you’re moving some distance. You will need to find a GP able to take on new patients, and they will be able to help with the process.

8. Don’t forget your pets

In France, carnivorous pets such as dogs, cats and ferrets, must be identifiable – usually by microchip, or tattoo – so that they can be returned to their owners if they get lost. This information is kept on a national database, which must be updated when you move house. Do that here

9. Get your mail forwarded

La Poste will forward any letters to your new address for up to 12 months. Click here for more information.

10. Help with the costs of moving

You may be eligible for some help with moving costs on the day itself. Those on lower incomes may be able to access help from the fonds de solidarité pour le logement towards the cost of hiring a removals firm, for example.

Parents with three children or more, or who are expecting a third child may be eligible for a moving allowance from CAF under certain conditions. More information is available here

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