Property grants available in France

A guide to the grants or funding available in France with regard to property

Property grants in France

Buying property in England can be a minefield, but at least you have a good idea of what you are dealing with in your native land and your native tongue. Buying property abroad can be more daunting, especially if you are hoping to take advantage of financial schemes designed to help regenerate certain areas, to create rental properties for a particular market (Letting property in France), to help with agricultural purchases and other similar possibilities. In the UK, you know what to do to discover the benefits available to you. There are grants available in France, in certain circumstances, but it is all dependant on knowing who to ask, and indeed, having a clear idea of the criteria necessary to receive such grants.

What sort of projects might attract a grant in France?

There are a few different types of project for which you may be able to obtain financial help in France. It is important to remember, however, that schemes may only apply to certain areas or be viable at certain times, therefore the suggestions made here can only be a guide to the type of help that may be available. Projects which may attract financial support include the following:

1. Home-improvement grants, usually for older properties.
2. Purchase of and renovations to property to turn it into gîtes.
3. Buying or renovating a property for business purposes.
4. Renovation of properties in eco friendly forms, e.g. solar heating installation etc.
5. Renovation of listed buildings, historical monuments or architecturally important buildings.
6. Property purchased in areas ear marked by the government as in need of in need of regeneration.
7. Purchase of agricultural properties for farming purposes.
8. Property bought to provide rental accommodation for clients on welfare benefits.

Property grants - how do you apply in France?

There are several different bodies that are responsible for the various grants for different purposes. The first port of call should probably be your local Mairie or the Préfecture, where you will be able to obtain information specific to your area. Other than that, you will need to contact the relevant organisation directly to discuss the possibilities for your specific project.

Home improvement grants in France

You may be eligible for a "Prime pour l'Amélioration de l'Habitat" (home improvement grant) depending on certain criteria, including the age of your property and your level of income. For example if you are renovating a farmhouse (House Renovations in France, Building or extending property in France), it must be more than twenty years old, no grants can have been allocated to the property within the last ten years, you must not earn more than a certain amount a year, and it must be your main residence. For further information on these grants, look at www.anah.fr (Agence National pour l'Amélioration de l'Habitat), where the agency's regional and departmental offices are listed. You can then contact the relevant ones. (If you are awarded this grant, you may be entitled up to 40% of the renovation cost, though there is a maximum amount which is normally paid out. Bear in mind too, that you must apply for this grant before you start work on your renovation.)

Grants available in France for renovating a property to turn it into gîtes

Gîtes de France and regional and departmental councils offer a grant system for the renovation of properties that are to be used as gîtes (Owning Gîtes and Chambres D'Hotes (B&Bs) in France), rental apartments and other rental accommodation or chambre d'hotes and registered with their organisations. In order to benefit from this type of assistance, the property must be totally or partly rented out for a period of three to ten years. The amount will vary from department to department. For information on these grants, and for more specific requirements, you can apply directly to Gîtes de France (www.gites-de-france.fr), or contact the Comités Departmentaux de Tourisme et aux Conseils Généraux.

Grants for buying or renovating a property for business purposes in France

This is another area which can attract financial help. If you are setting up a new business you may be eligible for a grant to help with the purchase or alteration of the property which will form the business premises. It is advisable to use the services of an experienced local accountant, and to set up a limited company. Grants for these purposes are known as "Aide à la création d'enterprise", and you should approach the Chambre de Commerce in your area for details. Once more, amounts are impossible to predict as some areas have more money to spare than others, and some will give higher priority to new businesses than others. Make sure that you help your own cause as much as possible by having all the relevant information to hand about your plans, and remember that you will need to have more paperwork for this than you ever thought possible!

Grants available for eco friendly projects in France... go green!

France is becoming very eco aware, and there are a proliferation of "green" projects that may attract financial aid. Up until January 1st 2006, there were grants available for these type of projects (solar heating, solar heating for water, renewable energy sources etc.) through ADEME (Agence de Environment et de la Maîtrise de l'Energie), but these have now been replaced with a system of tax credits. This aid consists of a credit of 50%, (as opposed to 40% in 2005) on the purchase and fitting of solar or other non polluting energies. There may be other conditions attached, however, so make sure that you look into all the implications before you embark on a project. Once more, this type of help is regionally based, so approach the ADEME of your department, the Conseil Générale or Conseil Régionale. And if you are planning to build an eco house, perhaps using straw bale technology and other green approaches, there may be further assistance available.

Grants available for listed buildings and historical monuments in France

If the property you own or are purchasing is a national or historical treasure, there may be additional help available for the renovation process, although you need to be aware that there can be long delays on this. Listed buildings that are classified as historical monuments can and do attract financial aid, but the constraints are significant, so it is not to be undertaken lightly! Amounts payable can range from 20-80% of the cost of the work. If you think you may be eligible for this help, contact your Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles (DRAC) or look at www.habitat-developpement.tm.fr. There is also a possibility of financial assistance if you are restoring an architecturally important building. The amounts are entirely subjective to individual departments, so you should contact your Direction Départmentale de l'Équipement (DDE).

Grants available for regional development and incentives

If the area in which you live or are considering for property purchase is subject to local incentives you may also be able to obtain assistance through your Ministère de Tourisme, et de l'Écologie du Développement et de L'améneagement Durable. Areas that may benefit from this type of help include places such as the Nord-Pas-de-Calais (Nord-Pas-de-Calais Property Guide), which have relinquished the heavy industries of the past and been smartened up to attract more tourism and new investment.

Agricultural grants in France

If you are a farmer wishing to relocate from the UK to France to continue in the farming business, or if you are interested in beginning an agricultural career there are many possibilities for help. The rules are however, very specific and you must adhere to all the conditions. For more information you should apply to SAFER, which is France's equivalent of DEFRA in the UK.

Are property grants useful in France?

Are grants on property useful or are they so restrictive that they are more bother than they are worth? It seems at first glance that any financial help offered to you should be snapped up... but look before you leap. For every person who reports having found invaluable financial assistance through property grants, there is another who reports that it was all a bit of a waste of time.

Property grant for renovating a farmhouse and two gîtes in France

Gill Masters, who renovated an old farmhouse and two gîtes in the Aude, in the foothills of the Pyrénées (Midi-Pyrénées Property Guide, Languedoc-Roussillon Property Guide), says that when she used a grant to install solar water heating in her properties it proved to be an expensive mistake! The criteria that had to be met were extremely exacting. Gill had to use the services of a French plumbing engineer who was registered with the grants board, and unfortunately he didn't do a very good job (Connecting utilities (water, gas, electricity, telephone and sewage) in France). Gill is at pains to point out that this is not say that all French engineers/plumbers do not do good work... but that in this instance costly mistakes were made and the project ended up costing more than was reimbursed. The reimbursement took the form of a reduction in the Taxe d'Habitation.

Property grants are worth considering in France

The allowances and grants available in France for property purchase and development are definitely worth considering, although you should carefully weigh up all the pros and cons before committing. Further general information can be obtained from www.anil.org/guide/Accession /pretaid.htm or www.anil.org.

Additional articles which may be of interest:

Tax in France
Learning French
Jobs in France
Banking in France

Much of the information supplied in this article has been kindly supplied by Solange Escargueil who has a property finding and management business in the Aude department of Languedoc-Roussillon. All information is, to the best of the knowledge of the author, correct at the time of writing but is subject to change at any time.

About the author

Joanna Simm moved to the Languedoc area of south-west France in October 2004 having found her property through French Property Links.

your questions...

1. A question about grants available to those renting property (added 27/11/12)...

We are starting a business in France, and have come to realize that the place we are renting may have signifiant historic importance. As renters, we are wondering if we can get help to restore our shop?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would suggest you contact those bodies we mention in our article, to find this out, as I am afraid I don't know. Perhaps if the owner of the property and yourselves came to some arrangement, some financial help might be possible.

2. A question about pheasant farming in France (added 18/10/13)...

Hello - would you know if there are any grants available for the setting up of a pheasant farm, rearing, export to UK etc? Any information would be appreciated - many thanks.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. As the above article states:

"There are several different bodies that are responsible for the various grants for different purposes. The first port of call should probably be your local Mairie or the Préfecture, where you will be able to obtain information specific to your area. Other than that, you will need to contact the relevant organisation directly to discuss the possibilities for your specific project."

You may be entitled to help with a new business grant:

"If you are setting up a new business you may be eligible for a grant to help with the purchase or alteration of the property which will form the business premises. It is advisable to use the services of an experienced local accountant, and to set up a limited company. Grants for these purposes are known as "Aide à la création d'enterprise", and you should approach the Chambre de Commerce in your area for details."

I'm afraid I don't know of any other grant which may help you.

Should anyone reading this be able to offer further advice, please do get in touch.

3. A question about entitlement to grants (added 15/10/14)...

I have a property in Brittany France, the property is in Plemet La Cheze. Would I be entitled to any grants and if so, how much? The property still has a septic tank and it needs everything doing to it. Thanks.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. Though the above should give you all the information you need, regarding who to contact to see if you would be eligible for any grants. It really depends on the type of property, what you want to do with it etc. As we say, the first port of call should probably be your local Mairie or the Préfecture, where you will be able to obtain information specific to your area.

4. Questions about grants and planning permission (added 23/4/15)...

I would be truly grateful if you could point my son, Joe in the right direction in who it is he has to ask for planning permission and also he would like to obtain financial help (a grant) for the renovations which he would like to get started and go ahead with asap. I would be truly grateful if you could give Joe some advice in which society it is he has to contact so they can guide him in the right order of events to how the system works and also to see if he will be eligible/accepted for help financially. If you can give him guidance on who it is specifically he has to ask for planning permission for the house he is currently living in. He would like to renovated it into three gites, and the small barn he would like to renovate it into a home (for himself to live in), and the second barn he would like to renovate into a small school, consisting of kitchen/s with six-eight cookers, a toilet and small office space. (He has his CAP and BP in business management and a diploma to teach as a chef). He would prefer to run the project as a holiday/cooking course. This would include normal hearing folk, but mainly focusing on helping teach the hard of hearing and deaf people on how to cook as part of their fun-filled holiday! Just a little note - Joe is profoundly deaf. He took all of his exams and apprenticeship here in France. He is 28 yrs old. The reality of his dream is almost in reach and there is nothing more I would like to see, than him finally be rewarded for all of his hard earned efforts, so with heart felt thanks I would appreciate any advice we can get from yourselves. Thank you.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us, though I am unsure what more information I can give you, other than that provided in our articles. For sake of ease, I would suggest Joe goes to see the people at his Mairie, who should be able to advise on planning permission and where he should go for grants, if he indeed is eligible for any. I wish him luck with his endeavours - his plans sound wonderful!

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