News Digest: New Laws for French Land Owners & A Special Event for US Buyers



News Digest: New Laws for French Land Owners & A Special Event for US Buyers

The state of emergency has been lifted in New Caledonia, the penultimate tax return deadline is upon us, and there are changes to the legal requirements for selling or renting out some French properties. Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.

1. New Laws for Land Owners

A new law will be coming into action in 2025 that affects land owners looking to rent or sell their properties in areas of France at risk of wildfires. The law concerns the obligations légales de débroussaillement – the legal forest fire prevention obligations that homeowners are subject to if their land is located in certain areas of France, notably parts of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Corsica, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitanie, and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (you can find a searchable map of all affected departments here). The laws require homeowners to clear and maintain their land, following strict guidelines of pruning, mowing, etc, to prevent additional risk of wildfires.

While these laws are already enforceable, the new requirement affects those looking to rent or sell their property and dictates that the renter or buyer must be made aware of these obligations at each stage of the process. In other words, they must be declared from the offset.

The diagnostic immobilier: état des risques is already part of the comprehensive DDT or diagnostic tests that all sellers must provide when selling a property. The Etat des Risques Naturels et Technologiques is designed to give buyers a detailed overview of any risks of natural disasters in the area, one of which is the risk of wildfires. This amendment, however, means that buyers should be made aware of any known risks and obligations much earlier in the buying process.

2. State of Emergency lifted in New Caledonia

Last week, we reported on the violent protests gripping the French overseas territory of New Caledonia. Yesterday, it was announced that French President Macron would not be extending the state of emergency beyond the 12-day period, and it was lifted this morning (Tuesday 28th) at 5am. The state of emergency included a strict evening curfew and a ban on TikTok, among other measures.

However, police are still struggling with blockades and protests in some areas of the New Caledonian capital of Noumea, and a further 480 French gendarmes have been deployed to the region to help get the situation under control. Although evacuation flights by military airports have begun, many French tourists still remain stranded in the country, and Noumea’s international airport is not expected to reopen until at least June 2nd.

3. Voting in the UK election

Last week, the date for the next UK General Election was announced, and the vote will take place on 4th July 2024. If you’re a British citizen living in France (or any other country), you still have the right to vote and, as of January 2024, overseas residents who have been out of the UK for more than 15 years are now also allowed to vote (previously, voting rights were lost after more than 15 years abroad).

You will need to register to vote, and it’s a good idea to do this sooner rather than later – while the cut-off for registering is 12 days before the election, this is aimed at British residents and will not leave enough time for an overseas postal vote.

You can register online by following the instructions here and have the choice of a postal vote or a proxy vote.

4. French tax declaration deadlines

The second of the online French tax declaration deadlines is this Thursday. If you live in French départements 20-54, you have until midnight on the 30th of May – this Thursday – to submit your annual tax return.

The final deadline, for those living in départements 50-101 and French overseas territories, will be next week (6th June).

In 2024, you’ll need to declare all of your worldwide income from 2023. Remember that all French residents must file an annual tax return, even if you didn’t earn any income or have no French taxes to pay!

Editor’s Pick: 11 French Tax Articles to Get You Through Tax Season

5. Final call for our Americans in France webinar!

This week’s FrenchEntrée webinar will be focussing on Americans moving to and buying in France. I’ll be joined by a panel of experts who will be talking us through the property purchase process for US buyers, what Americans need to know about getting a French visa, and how to maximise your budget by understanding the currency exchange market.

Make sure to sign up for the free event now, and I look forward to seeing you all there!

Finally, don’t forget that you can send me your questions in advance to put to our experts here: [email protected].

What Americans Need to Know Before Buying & Moving to France

Thursday 30th May
18:00 Paris / 12:00 New York / 9:00 Los Angeles

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FrenchEntrée's Digital Editor, Zoë is also a freelance journalist who has written for the Telegraph, HuffPost, and CNN, and a guidebook updater for the Rough Guide to France and Rough Guide to Dordogne & Lot. She lives in the French countryside just outside of Nantes.

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