For members


Property tax surcharge: Where in France second-home owners are liable for extra taxes

Local authorities in certain parts of France are entitled to place an extra property tax on second homes - here's how the system works and how to find out if your area is introducing such a rule.

Property tax surcharge: Where in France second-home owners are liable for extra taxes
Saint-Tropez. (Photo by CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU / AFP)

France’s householders’ tax – taxe d’habitation – has been almost completely phased out, but there is one group that it still applies to; second-home owners.

Not only do second-home owners still have to pay the tax, an increasing number of communes are imposing a ‘surcharge’ on second homes which increases the bill by up to 60 percent.

The government has given local authorities in areas where there is a housing shortage the power to increase taxes on second homes in order to fund more affordable housing for locals and an increasing number of communes are choosing to use this power.

READ ALSO Second home or main address? French property tax rules explained

Towns and cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants and “a marked imbalance between supply and demand for housing” are known as zones tendues (troubled zones) and may increase their portion of the taxe d’habitation by between five and 60 percent.

Taxe d’habitation is based on the rental value of dwellings, payable on all furnished premises used for residential purposes, in accordance with article 1407 of the CGI (French General Tax Code).

The size of your bill will therefore depend on the value of your home, and whether your local authority has imposed a surcharge for second homes.

The aim of the surcharge is to encourage second home owners to either sell the property, or rent it out long term.

Almost 10 percent of France’s housing stock is second homes, the vast majority owned by French people.

Earlier this year, we reported that the Mediterranean glamour resort of Saint-Tropez hopes to raise €3 million a year for new local housing by increasing the taxe d’habitation on second homes by 60 percent from next year.

They are far from the only town to do this. Paris decided to raise its portion of the taxe d’habitation bill on second homes by 60 percent in 2022; while some 255 towns and cities across the country – of the 1,136 eligible to do so – have taken up the option of boosting their rates. 

READ ALSO Second-home owners: What French taxes do you need to pay?

Last year, city councils in cities such as Bordeaux, Lyon, Biarritz, Arles and Saint-Jean-de-Luz voted to increase the tax to the maximum 60 percent.

Authorities must be able to demonstrate significant second-property rates and that property purchase and rental prices are higher than the national average in order to be eligible.

New rules, which do away with the 50,000 lower limit on population, come into force in 2024 (delayed from 2023) and could see the tax rises implemented in up to 4,000 additional towns.

According to the Direction générale des finances publiques (DGFiP) a total 22.4 percent of the municipalities authorised to levy a surcharge on taxe d’habitation for second homeowners did so in 2022. 

The full list of towns able to impose higher taxe d’habitation rates is here.

READ ALSO Reader question: Who has to pay France’s ‘vacant property’ tax?


There are some. You may be able to claim exemption from taxe d’habitation on second homes if:

  • Your professional activity is close to the second home and obliges you to live there;
  • Your primary residence is a long-term care facility, meaning your former primary residence is now your second home;
  • The property is uninhabitable for a reason outside of your control. For example, if work is needed to make it habitable. If this is the case – and it’s not uncommon of you have bought a property as a restoration project – you need to register it as uninhabitable with your local tax office. You will usually then benefit from a reduced or zero tax bill for a limit period – in most areas two years is the maximum time you can declare the property uninhabitable. 

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For members


Where are house prices falling and rising in France this autumn?

New data has revealed where house prices are rising and falling in France.

Where are house prices falling and rising in France this autumn?

A new study by BFM Business and the real-estate listings website, Bien’Ici, has revealed the latest trends in the French property market.

As well as showing where house prices are rising and falling, it pointed towards a difficult landscape for renters across many parts of France. 

Where are house prices falling?

According to the study, which appears to be wide-ranging but non-exhaustive, house prices are falling fastest in medium-sized towns and cities. 

The biggest price drops from September 2022 to September 2023 occurred in Amiens (-15 percent), Limoges (-10 percent) and Besançon (-9 percent). These figures are based on the per squared metre price of property listed for sale in these cities. 

Average house prices as a whole (not based on squared metres, but based on the overall valuation of properties listed for sale) also fell dramatically in Mulhouse (-21 percent) and Brest (-12 percent). 

Cities that have long been among the most expensive for buying property in France have also seen a marked decline in house prices, including in Paris (-4.7 percent), Lyon (-6.5 percent) and Bordeaux (-7.9 percent). 

READ ALSO: Why France is facing a ‘property crisis’

These dramatic declines in house prices follow a period of housing market inflation that followed the Covid pandemic. 

There is an over-supply of housing for sale in some areas, which has contributed to falling prices. The Bien’Ici listings website has never had so many properties for sale – 650,000 in September, or 68 percent more than in January 2022. 

Where are house prices rising? 

Over the same time period, prices have risen in many parts of southern France, including in Nice (+4.8 percent), Marseille (+1.9 percent) and Aix-en-Provence (+1.9 percent). 

The northern city of Rouen also registered a price increase of +3.3 percent over the course of a year. 

Experts say that cities like Marseille have long been undervalued and that rising prices in the city simply reflect the market balancing itself out. 

READ MORE: What you need to think about before buying that dream house in France

Where is the most expensive and cheapest property?

Unsurprisingly, the study indicates that the most expensive property for sale in France is in Paris, where the average rate is €11,079 per squared metre. 

The highest average prices outside the French capital are in Nice (€6,546 per squared metre), Aix-en-Provence (€6,139), Lyon (€5,219) and Bordeaux (€4,853). 

Across all the towns surveyed in the study, Saint-Etienne had the cheapest property for sale, at an average of just €1,578 per squared metre. 

After Saint-Etienne, the cheapest places to buy property were Mulhouse (€1,957 per squared metre), Le Havre (€2,637), Rouen (€2,905) and Dijon (€2,953). 

What about mortgage rates?

If you are a cash buyer, falling house prices means that now is a good time to buy in many parts of France.

But if you will need to get a mortgage, the situation is a little tricker because interest rates have continued to rise – by a factor of four in the space of barely 20-months. In September, maximum interest rates for a 20-year loan were capped at a staggering 5.56 percent, while many banks were lending at around 4 percent. 

READ MORE: How to get a mortgage in France

“When the rates are at 4 percent, shouldn’t we reflect on [putting in place] a more accessible rate for households?”, said Economy Minister, Bruno Le Maire, in a recent interview with Le Parisien

The government is looking into putting in place a scheme, known as the prêt à taux bonifié (PTB), where qualifying people would be able to access mortgages at half the market rate. But French media report that it is unlikely to come into force before 2025. 

Rental market trends 

Rental prices across the 10 largest cities in France have gone up by an average of 3.2 percent in the year to September, according to a separate study released by SeLoger, widely reported in the French media. 

“There are red signals everywhere in the rental market,” reads the report. 

Nice (+6.1 percent), Marseille (+4.9 percent) and Strasbourg (+4.6 percent) saw notable rent increases over the course of the year. 

This phenomenon largely stems from an undersupplied rental market, with many property owners now looking to sell rather than rent their asset out. In 2019, 35 percent of the properties listed on Bien’Ici were for rent. Today, that figure stands at just 16 percent. 

The SeLoger study showed that in the year running to September, the number of rental properties available in Rennes shrunk by 42.9 percent; in Paris by 38.3 percent; and in Marseilles and Bordeaux by 15.8 percent. The figure is even more dramatic if you measure the reduced rental supply in Paris since July 2021 – it has fallen by 68.2 percent. 

“Nothing suggests an improvement to the stock shortage and rising rents in the coming months,” said Barbara Castillo Rico, a SeLoger researcher cited by L’Express

She also offered a further explanation: “Households are abandoning plans to buy property because of tougher financing conditions and so are not moving out of rental properties, which leads to increased tension in the rental market.”