Monday, March 24, 2014

French Property News, April 2014

In this special issue of French Property News* dedicated to 'all you need to know for a new life in France' I have tried to paint a broad picture - in just a couple of pages! - of some of the issues facing France today. They include the dire state of the French economy, record levels of unemployment and general dissatisfaction with the policies of François Hollande's socialist (sort-of) government.

As I write this post, it is the morning after the first round of the French local elections, with a record level of abstentions (40% have not bothered to vote), the advance of the right over the socialists and in particular the gains by the National Front. They have topped the poll in my nearest large town, Perpignan. A lot of this may be corrected in the second round next Sunday as voters contemplate the results so far registered.

In my article I also touch on issues such as France's complex ethnic mix which results from two world wars, the Occupation and the Civil War in Spain, and the close ties of family and friendship which many 'outsiders' may not be able to understand or even be aware of.

Essential reading before yu buy your French property!

*French Property News, available at newsagents or on subscription.

Monday, March 3, 2014

New French property legislation

Then French government has finally approved legislation which offers even more security for tenants in unfurnished properties in certain designated cities, including Paris, Marseille and Lille and several designated towns where housing is considered critical. There is also some help for landlords in the private sector with plans for a state funded insurance guarantee against unpaid rentals, for a maximum of 18 months and starting from January 2016.

Within the designated towns, local authorities will determin a mean rental to be applied to different property types (studio, two rooms etc) and by quartier , which will become the standard. The housing minister Cécile Duflot predicts that this will lead to widespread rent réductions. The new leglislation clarified what information a landlord may ask a prospective tenant to supply before offering a rental contract.

Mme Duflot has also attacked the lucrative short-term rental market, composed of the many attractive furnished studios and small apartments, currently rented for as little as a seekend to tourists in cities such as Paris. These rentals are extremely popular with visitors as an alternative to hotels but have caused problems in blocks occupied by a mix of long-term residents and short-term renters. Tourist hotels have also complained of loss of trade. The right wing newspaper Le Figaro has suggested there will be a large-scale exit of investors in this type of property to countries such as Spain with more flexible regimes. If so this may free up a number of desirable small properties in central Paris.