Leaving the EU will not stop British people buying homes in France – either for a permanent move to France or for holidays. Plenty of non-EU citizens – Russians and Americans, for example – own property in France.
However, some different property rules apply to non-EU members. While the property owning rights of Brits who already have homes in France will not be challenged, it is possible – but unlikely – that future buyers would need permission from the Banque de France to buy in France and/or obtain a French mortgage, as they did before Britain joined Europe.
Non-EU nationals seeking a French mortgage are not allowed to borrow as much as EU nationals – French residents can borrow up to 100% of the property value, European residents up to 80%, and non-EU residents up to 60-65%. It may also become more difficult for British buyers to set up an SCI (Société Civile Immobilière) in order to use a company to buy a property.
There could be changes for British nationals who have second homes and rent them out. In 2012 French President François Hollande tried to collect a 15.5% ‘social charge’ on British landlords in France but this was ruled illegal by the European Court of Justice. Post-Brexit, however, France could try to reintroduce these charges which were set to bring in some €250 million a year.
The government could also make foreign homeowners pay higher taxes but in reality this would only happen in the unlikely event that France wanted to punish non-EU residents.
Local taxes, the taxe foncière and taxe d’habitation, are the same for EU and non-EU nationals so will remain unchanged and the previous disparity in Capital Gains Tax for EU and non-EU home owners was abolished last year.
As EU members, Brits have the right to buy property anywhere in France (or the EU). Technically, France could ban non-EU residents from buying in certain areas – on the grounds that locals are being pushed out, for example.
But this is unlikely to happen in the rural areas that are popular with British buyers. As French law professor Patrick Weil, who works with the French government on immigration issues, said in parliament after the Leave vote: ‘In France, British citizens have contributed to the revival of a great number of villages abandoned by their native population. They have voted in local elections, have been elected to municipal councils, and actively participate in the life of local communities. To all Britons who have formed such attachments to France, our message can only be one of welcome.’
He went on to recommend that France offer French citizenship to any British living in France who want it.