The Fonciere & Habitation taxes

Good afternoon peeps in SF.

Whilst looking at yet more properties online, and in conjunction with reading SF regarding the above…I had a couple of thoughts; and wondered if my deductions have some ground.

There are obviously properties in all states of repair from good to awesome ruins. But, there are an abundance that have only part of them achieving a habitable state ( the habitable states vary too)…many have had this “extra floor space” tidied, or to a state that is good to start a refurb from.
My guess, is that the owners past and present, have not brought these rooms up to spec because of getting hammered by their Tax Fonciere ? - would this be a fairly true summary ?

Additionally ( for a non France resident)…is there somewhere i can visit online; to find out how much a property should be paying ? ie using the current quoted floor space in sq mtr

Would I probably have to visit the local online Mairie page ? and glean it from there.



I think you’re over-thinking it (and habitation rather than foncière I think?). To be exempted from taxe d’habitation the house needs to be empty of furniture and / or totally uninhabitable as in not weatherproof and no utilities. Arguing that only part of it is inhabitable year after year would involve a fair amount of hassle I imagine, but quite apart from that, how many people would consciously choose to keep part of their property a wreck for ever just to avoid the tax? I think most people who buy houses want to turn them into nice homes, no? The cheapest way to avoid paying tax is not to buy a house in the first place. Or not to buy one that’s bigger than you need. To be honest I suspect the reason there are so many part renovated houses around is simply that the owners ran out of money or enthusiasm,

Your local tax office is the place to go, they’ll be able to tell you which communes are cheap/expensive compared to others, but as you’ve probably read the tax is based on the notional rental value of the property so it would depend on the exact location of the house you were considering. The only sure way is to ask to see the previous year’s bill - and bear in mind that if the seller is a full time resident they may have reductions, so you need to look at the calculation on the back of the bill rather than the final figure.

But at the end of the day, taxes go up and down year by year depending on the commune’s budget, so all you can do is get a rough idea of what to expect.

(Another thing to check if you’re buying a holiday home is whether that particular commune imposes a surcharge on holiday homes - some do and some don’t.)

Hope this helps.

Thank you Anna,

Possibly overthinking, but also great food for thought in not buying too big a property.

Did find some interesting things online, comparing these charges in different areas…but not a calculation tool - that one seems like a “grey” art for commune admins :wink:
Not only the charges, but also those communes who had more debt than revenues ! interesting.



If tax is the difference between buying in one area and not in another, why buy at all? What’s the sense in buying a property in an area you don’t like simply because the tax is a lot lower?. The other bit about rundown unmodernised property is quite simple to answer, owners never had the spare cash to spend on home improvement.

Not exactly a grey art, but not something that you could have a calculation tool for. Each commune sets its annual budget at a meeting of the municipal council, usually in the second quarter of the year. There’s no nationally-imposed formula that has to be followed, it’s just a case of the mayor and town councillors doing their best to find the right balance between keeping taxes at acceptable level and at the same time, providing an acceptable level of services to keep the commune a nice place to live in (highway maintenance, utilities, amenities, public services, right down to flower displays and street lighting if you have it… it all costs, and the money has to come from somewhere, most communes also have loans to pay off, and state funding is falling year by year).

A P.S. to my previous post: Macron has announced that over the next few years he wants to exempt taxpayers with low to moderate income from taxe d’habitation, I forget the figures but I think over half of French households will end up exempted. The big question that’s worrying mayors is, how are the communes going to make up the shortfall in revenue? One possible effect is that those who do continue to pay full tax - ie basically high earners and holiday home owners - will have to pay proportionally more. At present nobody has an answer but it is an issue to be aware of if property taxes are a make or break factor in your decision to purchase a holiday home.

To buy using the scale of Tax tariffs, would not be my preference of priority Trevor; I just find it interesting; although I do think there is a correlation of how many rooms someone has finished in a house…as said above it is based on the notional rental value … ie 4 bedrooms not 2 would make quite a difference ?
But anyway opinions differ.


Yes interesting points, and also on the holiday v residential main.

Honestly I doubt it would make much difference, if any at all. You can’t not include a room just because it needs renovating/you don’t use it - it’s still there and it’s still classed as a bedroom. If the entire house is uninhabitable then that’s different and you can be exempted. But if the house itself is inhabitable then I think all you could do is argue with the tax office that these rooms bring the overall standard of the house down from good to poor, and if they accept it you would be taxed on a four bedroom house in poor condition. But, as a rule people are very wary of asking the tax office to review their property taxes because in many areas the valeurs locatives cadastrales haven’t been updated for donkeys years and are way out of date, so if you ask for a review and they update the values you risk ending up paying more.

1 Like

We have improved 2 habitual houses over the years both of which attracted the attention of the authorities and both have had tax increases of about 50% following the completion of the work.

Thanks guys…

Are you sure you cannot , NOT include a room because it needs renovating ?
But surely Anna, a house that has 4 usable/habitable bedrooms would command a higher “notional” rental value than 2.
IF the house was not previously a 4 bed, but always listed as a 2…then you would pay as a 2. EVEN if there were additional rooms/ space that could be renovated, but as yet NOT.
This was where i was trying to get at.

Thanks Michael, your story gives my theory some credence, and something to be wary of. Forewarned is forearmed.

BTW am not saying i would not buy such a property, but at least know more of where i was treading :slight_smile:

Part of the Tax d’habitation charge is also based on personal revenue, so hence almost impossible to find out what it is without going to the local Marie and asking them. You cannot just ask someone what they pay…

When you build, which we have done twice, you have to provide lots of information so they can assess the ‘quality’ of your home to decide where you fall in the Taxe Fonciere stakes. Such things as number of rooms, number of baths, showers, type of heating, size of pool, sq metres of terraces (covered or otherwise), parking spaces, insulation, ceiling heights - the list is endless.

So, all together a complex subject to get an easy answer to!

A house is either inhabitable or it isn’t. It can’t be half inhabitable. If you can live in it, it’s inhabitable. If it’s only partially renovated that’s only relevant insofar as it might bring the house into a lower quality bracket. I know what you’re getting at, and I can understand why you’ve convinced yourself it’s logical from reading about it, but in practice it just doesn’t work like that. “Notional rental value” was used as a measure when the system was originally devised but the operative word is “notional”, ie, theoretical, plucked out of the air.

"La valeur locative. Les impôts locaux sont basés sur un revenu fictif de vos biens : la valeur locative cadastrale. Elle ne correspond pas au revenu que vous tirez ou pourriez tirer de leur location. "

But you don’t have to believe me or the Express if you don’t want.

Yes, that’s why I said

Not that it much sense, you’d need to ask someone to explain it!

A house can be ‘half inhabitable’ - the surface area in m2 is different from the ‘Surface Habitable’ m2 on which you pay tax. Habitable space means just that - a corridor, hallway, toilet etc is not technicaly ‘habitable’. Also if If it doesn’t have a window, it isn’t ‘habitable’, if there isn’t enough headroom, even if there are windows, it isn’t ‘habitable’. My house was built by an architect who went bankrupt and didn’t finish the house, so there are 2 full height rooms at first floor level which are just used as storage for now because the windows have not been put in (just bricks where they would be inserted), so the rooms are currently used as useful storage areas but not considered habitable! (That is how people can build kid’s rooms in the attic, or a games room in the basement (no windows) and not have to declare it for tax purposes.

Well on that basis virtually no house is 100% habitable is it, because you almost inevitably have corridors, stairwells etc - but that doesn’t mean every household only pays a percentage of the bill, because the bill is calculated on the habitable space. But the point is that whether a specific area is habitable or not, depends whether it meets the criteria for habitable space - sufficient headroom, windows, intended useage as per the plans. Not on its decorative condition It’s a paper exercise - as you say, there can be rooms you use as living space that are technicalIy non habitable because they don’t meet the criteria, and I think the same applies vice versa. So I still don’t think you would get the tax office to redesignate a bedroom as non habitable, and revise the calculations, just because the room is in need of renovation. It is still a bedroom, albeit an unrenovated one. Maybe if you bricked up the windows - but then the mairie might not give you permission to do that.

But always happy to be proved wrong.

I agree with you Anna.
Obviously corridors etc don’t count as habitable space, so they don’t for the tax people either. Otherwise if a house contains furniture and has an electricity supply it is deemed to be habitable. If you live in it, its being a dump or a building site makes no difference.

hmmm My intention here, was to keep it straightforward if I could; a simplistic view.

I did not ask how a house could be exempted, nor say that any existing bedrooms were “destroyed” or downgraded to uninhabitable space to achieve a lesser taxation.


I believe I have been miss quoted on a few things; the “habitable” status part… As Caroline said, you can have a house half habitable…a habitable “zone” if you like for all things that technically qualify as such. And a zone of areas that do not qualify…

"So I still don’t think you would get the tax office to redesignate a bedroom as non habitable, and revise the calculations, just because the room is in need of renovation."
I did not state anywhere that i was/would be re-designating bedrooms, nor bricking up windows…you seem intent on putting dialogue that I have never iterated here.

It is already stated that taxes do look at numbers of bathrooms, showers, type of heating etc… and number of bedrooms do matter. Sandra wrote this.

This is other words is exactly what i said, and people have refrained from converting loft and other spaces to keep their taxes lower.
Everyone with the exception of myself seems to have ignored what Michael wrote , on his house improvement works, which attracted additional taxes post works.

Afraid you don’t have to be proved wrong Anna, because that is not what I said.

I don’t know why this seems to have turned into an argument :frowning:

You want to know if a bedroom can be discounted from habitable space. A bedroom can’t be discounted because the regulations specify that a bedroom is classed as habitable. The only way it could be discounted if it was no longer a bedroom, ie redesignated, hence my not entirely serious reference to bricking up windows; a room with no windows, as a previous poster mentioned, is not a bedroom. I know you didn’t say this, but you were asking about in the circumstances in which a bedroom would not count towards tdh, that’s why I mentioned it. Unconverted loft space is a different issue because by definition it is not habitable, whereas a bedroom is. Every “habitable house” has zones that are included in the tdh calculation and zones that aren’t. Bedrooms always are. Unconverted roof space never is.

Michael’s increase in taxes was very likely, as said earlier, because when you’ve completed works that required a déclaration préalable you are normally asked to fill in an H1 and the tax office reassesses the property on current values, If your tax was previously based on an assessment carried out 60 years ago which is often the case if no work has been done on the house for a couple of generations, there’s likely to be a significant increase even if in essence nothing much has changed. That’s why people don’t usually go asking for a reassessment. Unfortunately if you do any work that involves notifying the mairie it happens automatically.

Hope that’s cleared things up a bit.

You are right Anna about the reassessment being done after a long time in our case over 50 years with the previous owners, We were warned by our notaries that we can expect an increase in the property taxes after the sale is concluded plus that they will also take into account any internal changes i.e adding more bathrooms or toilets.

Hi Anna,

Yes, I agree with everything you say.

What I was attempting to get across was;

Nothing to do with

I did not ask the above ?? What i asked is in the first quote.

Anyway what you say is correct, so thank you for persevering :slight_smile: I have actually gleaned lots of info , and also things to be aware of when taking a property over.