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Saturday, December 9, 2023

“We are thinking about a new regulatory tool” (Patrice Vergriete)

LA TRIBUNE SUNDAY – Traveling to your city of Dunkirk last Thursday, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced that 6 million French people could benefit from a zero-interest loan in 2024. Does this mean that the budget will be reviewed and corrected before its passage in the Senate on November 23?

PATRICE VERGRIETE – The zero-rate loan (PTZ), which allows you to finance your first home ownership, was due to end on December 31. We preferred to keep it, not by reducing the ambition but by targeting it on the priorities of the territories and on the populations who need it the most, for example by increasing the maximum amount to 100,000 euros. More than 40,000 households should benefit from it next year.

It prevents… the dedicated envelope increases from 1.2 billion euros to 800 million.

The PTZ is refocused on new housing in tight areas – where supply is lower than demand – and on old housing with work in relaxed areas – where supply is higher than demand. For example, in Creuse, where more than 50% of housing is thermal sieves classified F or G, and where there remains a vacancy rate of 15%, it is normal for public aid to be primarily focused on the acquisition -renovation of existing housing.

YOU thus remove from the PTZ new individual houses in these relaxed areaswhile they constitute the ideal of 75% of French people.

I have nothing against individual houses and I myself live in an individual house in the heart of the city, but building new houses 80 km from people’s workplace is no longer acceptable for ecological reasons. and social. After having built cities in which the French see their purchasing power depend so much on the price of fuel, with lives that are impossible in terms of pace of life, we must stop the distancing of populations.

Except that at the same time, the PTZ for new collectives in tense areas will be synonymous with densification, already difficult to accept in these tense municipalities…

In Dunkirk, we will welcome 20,000 industrial jobs in the next 10 years. We must therefore multiply the number of new constructions per year by 2.5, to have 11,500 more housing units by 2033. Except that we do not want to create an additional square meter of urban expansion. We therefore identified everything that could be converted into housing in the already urbanized part of the city. It turns out that since I introduced free buses, a third of the parking lots in the city center are empty.

New housing: the inexorable descent into hell of real estate developers

We are therefore going to transform car parks into housing but also rehabilitate port and office wastelands, build in hollow areas and on abandoned sites… and even build on top of a museum. This disrupts habits, but it does not bother residents because we never lose sight of quality of life. We are therefore working at the same time on the renaturation of public spaces and wastelands as well as on the removal of cars from our canal banks to reconcile city-nature and the production of new housing.

It is therefore possible to carry out intelligent densification. We must also think about the issue of affordable housing in a more global way. The Prime Minister thus announced a plan of one billion euros in intermediate housing, making it possible to double annual production by 2026. The State and the Caisse des Dépôts will put 500 million euros into this plan. Institutional investors will be mobilized to make a contribution to this investment effort. And therefore naturally in communities in tension.

Certainly, but how can we do this in large cities like Nantes, Rennes or Toulouse, which welcome more and more inhabitants every year?

In these large cities, we have to think on the scale of the metropolis. Tomorrow, metropolitan RERs will provide their residents with a public transport offering on this scale to move away from the sprawling city model. Furthermore, land planning needs to be done again. For example, rather than concentrating universities in the heart of the metropolis – which poses major student housing problems – we should install more branches in medium-sized towns. The Prime Minister also announced in Dunkirk an ambitious plan to increase the production of student housing over the coming years. Let’s stop saying it’s not possible, let’s change software and have the courage to loosen these activities.

Another common point of these metropolises: long-term rental is increasingly replaced by short-term tourist rental. Mayors feel helpless to respond to their constituents who can no longer find housing…

In Dunkirk, the number of furnished tourist accommodation has jumped 47% in two years. So many habitats have replaced housing for the inhabitants of the area. I mentioned it with the Prime Minister: “You know, it’s not a question of taxation – these rentals are already profitable – but of regulation.” So I suggest that we can give mayors a new tool.

In what form ?

The registration number that cities issue to owners who wish to rent their accommodation as well as the compensation mechanisms are no longer sufficient.

We are therefore thinking about a new tool, for example on the model of the municipality of Saint-Malo which has set up a quota of furnished tourist accommodation in relation to the total number of accommodations.

I will therefore rely on the transpartisan bill which arrives at the Assembly in December. If all goes well, this text, which will aim to develop regulatory tools to make them more effective and to legally secure the practices of certain communities, will be promulgated next April.

This quota is being challenged in court…

It is actually not legally secure, but I spoke with my Quebec, Portuguese and German counterparts in order to find the most relevant tool.

What about taxation on furnished tourist accommodation ?

Personally, I have always been in favor of an alignment of taxation between furnished accommodation, tourist or not, and unfurnished rentals as a main residence. But this deserves to be carefully evaluated, taking into account in particular all the tax parameters of rental investors who can, for example, opt for a so-called “real” regime that is sometimes more advantageous than that of the flat-rate deduction.

It doesn’t say if you’re going to get the tax deduction…

In mid-October, I announced the launch of a parliamentary mission on the overhaul of rental taxation whose conclusions I await for the first quarter of 2024. MPs Annaïg Le Meur (Renaissance) and Marina Ferrari (Modem) responsible for this mission, are not intended to deal only with the case of furnished tourist accommodation, but also to succeed in bringing in more individual and institutional investors in housing as their main residence.

We want to ensure that owners, who own 4-5 homes or more, turn even more towards long-term rentals. It is therefore the whole of rental taxation that these deputies will study and not only the question of the tax reduction for taxpayers who opt for the “simplified” tax system.

At the same time, you are preparing two bills: one on substandard housing and degraded condominiums for the start of 2024, the second on the decentralization of housing policy for next spring. What can the mayors who meet in congress from November 21 to 23 expect?

We are going to hold a consultation with the associations of elected officials to find out precisely what they would be ready to take on and the legal and fiscal tools they need to ensure this responsibility. The other day, the mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, called me because after having contacted all the owners of her commune to fight against vacancy, she told me that she would have liked to be able to increase the tax on vacant housing. This is the very example that convinces me that mayors should be able to adjust the rate of this tax, as well as the rate of housing tax on second homes.

Furnished tourist accommodation: the government is delaying (again) on taxation

Some are also asking for control over the allocation of social housing.

On this, I think that we must play on both levels but this point will have to be concerted within the framework of the bill. In my opinion, mayors are perfectly legitimate to play a major role in the policies for allocating social housing, subject to contributing to the responsibilities that will have been entrusted to intermunicipalities in terms of welcoming priority populations.

In this regard, many mayors are already upset by a letter that you sent to the prefects on October 11 and which only concerns the communities of municipalities, agglomerations, metropolises and not the municipalities…

I was mayor for nine years and I was the first to want more prerogatives. If I remain president of intercommunality, it is precisely because I think that there are things to do with the municipalities concerned. Municipalities obviously have a central role in housing policies that no one seeks to call into question. On the contrary, we propose on several subjects to give them more leverage. At a time when all associations of elected officials are talking about differentiation, let’s work together to adapt housing policy to local realities rather than overreacting.