THLV--tax on unoccupied properties

Hello all, I’m just wondering whether any other forum member has advice to offer. I own a house in a very dilapidated condition–basically leaks to all water pipes, meaning we’ve had to cut the supply at the mains, electric and gas supply likewise cut at the inlet to the house, pending some renovations that hopefully will begin next year. I can’t afford to do it all up, but I had been hoping to install a bathroom (no kitchen) and a new electricity supply, so that I might be able to stay there in very basic conditions. This is because hotels cost a bomb and every time I stay with my family, it costs about €1300 for a week.

So, I’ve just had a letter from the tax people locally, saying that an uninhabited house after two years is liable to tax. The level they are quoting is around €1500. For the current year, it’s contestable on the grounds that the house lacks the ‘minimum elements of comfort’, i.e. no running water or electricity, no bathroom. It’s exactly those elements that I’m installing next year. But as this will not render the house ‘habitable’ in the sense of holiday lettings or tenancies, for example, a lack of cooking facilities, etc., I’m looking for advice about which features of a house make it liable to this particular tax, the THLV. If I can work out a way to allow occasional visits by me without tipping it into the realms of this tax, I would like to do so. I’ve contemplated doing without electricity, for example, but if not having a kitchen would be enough, it would be preferable.

Thanks for any experience/advice you may have.

Habitable doesn’t mean comfortable or suitable for holiday lettings, it just means you can live in it - the level of comfort is up to you. The two year rule is to encourage people to get on with doing up properties so they don’t become ruins.


The rule used to be as long as it had a roof and four walls then it was habitable regardless of any utilities or comfort. You had to get the mairie to visit, inspect and do an attestation saying it was not habitable if you wanted exoneration but I think things may have changed and in my old commune, they are taxing unoccupied buildings regardless of state to make the owners do something about them or sell them because people are looking for homes in the village to keep it going.


In some communes they would class a property as uninhabitable if it was not connected to the utilities and had no furrniture at all in it. But I suppose that would now be classed as an empty property and as such still taxable.

Thanks for these replies–the tax document actually states that if it has no running water/electric supply and is lacking in ‘éléments de confort’ then it is not taxable, but the thing I can’t figure out is that this rule actually is conducive to not doing up your place, because as soon as you can stay in it, it becomes taxable! And as long as it remains without basic supply, you’re covered. I mean my local mairie can visit if they want to see the state it’s in. I’d prefer though to get it into better shape, but am wondering if I should proceed if it’s going to cost me more than staying in a hotel each year.

There is another clause about the cost of the renovations costing more than 25% of the taxable value, or similar–I haven’t the letter directly to hand–this would apply to me, if my interpretation is correct, because the renovations are going to cost several 100K € to complete…

I’m interested by people’s comments that seem to be suggesting that the exact policy may vary by commune.

You could try looking at Searching for thlv comes up with useful information.

Another point to remember is that it is not your principal home and is therefore regarded as a maison secondaire which is considered a luxury and therefore very taxable regardless. More and more communes are getting stricter with unoccupied non-principal residences as they lost the taxe d’habitation on main residences and need to recoup some of the loss elsewhere.

@Shiba – you are right and I agree with the principle of taxing rich absentee owners. It’s frustrating for my case, though, because I am not particularly rich, bought the house during Brexit as an escape, but can’t afford to live there until I retire in 10 years’ time. It had been standing empty for some years, so in fact people in my town have been looking forward to progress on the renovations–now the tax changes mean it is harder, not easier, to make a difference, and the pinch is definitely there at my end as I’m pouring an increasing amount of my monthly earnings into keeping things afloat at the French end… Still, we’ve all heard that story a million times before :laughing:

Isn’t the two-year thing to do with the time limit on déclaration de travaux or permis de construire? No idea obv if this applies to you.

1 Like

There are full details here and it explains exactly what the exemptions are. This is where the 25% comes in. It looks as if it the work needed to make the house habitable has to meet at least one of the two stated conditions. in order to claim an exemption.

I believe that the issue of whether you have water, electricity etc is not simply whether you are connected to the supply, it is usually taken to be a question of whether the plumbing or wiring is in place and basically operational, regardless of whether the supply is connected up or not. This seems to be saying that leaking pipes would not be enough to claim you have no running water unless you have a quote saying that the entire system needs to be replaced at great cost.

"Les travaux nécessaires pour rendre un logement habitable s’entendent de ceux qui remplissent au moins l’une des conditions suivantes :

  • avoir pour objet d’assurer la stabilité des murs, charpentes et toitures, planchers ou circulations intérieures (notamment les escaliers) ;

  • avoir pour objet l’installation, dans un logement qui en est dépourvu ou, dans le cas contraire, la réfection complète de l’un ou l’autre des éléments suivants : équipement sanitaire élémentaire, chauffage, électricité, eau courante, ensemble des fenêtres et portes extérieures.

Par ailleurs, les travaux doivent être importants. La production de devis devrait permettre, la plupart du temps, d’apprécier l’importance des travaux. A titre de règle pratique, il peut être admis que cette condition est remplie lorsque le montant des travaux nécessaires pour rendre le logement habitable excède 25 % de la valeur vénale du logement au 1er janvier de l’année d’imposition."

IF - AUT - Taxes et prélèvements additionnels aux impôts fonciers - Taxe annuelle sur les logements vacants |

Thanks so much, @Sandcastle, this is really helpful. The work I’m planning does meet all of these criteria, but getting a devis will be the fiddly part as I haven’t reached the stage of formal estimates, I have only had email communications with the plumber about the need to replace the entire water supply and heating system, and verbal discussions with the electrician about the need to rewire and change all the sockets etc to bring the property to current safety standards (it was last rewired in the 1950s). I will have to see if I can get proper devis out of them with figures. I have a budget of 100K at the moment, which is only just enough to cover these basic renovations (besides the electrics and plumbing, I’ll need to put in an entirely new bathroom), and the house cost 315K so the changes will certainly exceed the threshold. But proving it all will be the laborious part…

Your workmen will give you a devis, or even several if there are options, if they don’t they are dodgy. Is your house amazing? Or in an amazing location? It seems quite expensive if you have all that work to do on top.

As véro says, tradesmen will provide devis, it is what they do. Although actually shaking one out of them if they are not keen on the job, is sometimes easier said than done. Getting a devis does not commit you to anything, just do not sign it unless you want to go ahead. It does look like the devis is going to be critical if that is what the tax office bases its decision on.