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in the Basque Country, the compensation rejected

[CA du Pays basque (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) 158 communes • 312 300 hab.] The agglomeration community of the Basque Country is the first inter-municipality to set up the strict system of “compensation” for furnished tourist accommodation. Until then, only metropolises had launched: Paris, Bordeaux and Nice. The regulation adopted on March 5, but attacked before the administrative court of Pau, applies to the 24 municipalities of the tense zone. The principle: a main residence can be rented as tourist accommodation for a maximum of 120 days per year; beyond that, its owner will have to offer, from June, compensation. As for the owners of second homes, they will have to institute this compensation from the first night.

However, the judges of the administrative court of Pau, in an order of June 3, suspended this regulation. The court noted that the terms of the compensation provided for are particularly restrictive, making this obligation difficult to access and leading to a breach of the principle of proportionality. The judges also considered that this regulation requires legal persons operating in the short-term rental sector of furnished tourist accommodation to submit, from 1er June, to a very strict authorization regime, without being accompanied by transitional measures: this violates the principle of legal certainty. The condition of urgency is also met: the applicants, players in the sector, have demonstrated the serious and immediate harm that the deliberation in dispute causes to their interests.

On June 7, the urban community reacted by announcing its intention to appeal to the Council of State.

drastic method

The intermunicipal regulations provide that by asking the town hall to change the use of his accommodation to make it a furnished tourist accommodation, the owner must offer in return a room – office, business, garage… – which he has transformed into a dwelling. year round. This system makes it possible to “reconstitute the ‘loss’ of a dwelling by creating another”, indicates the deliberation adopted at the beginning of March, and this, without drawing on the available stock. In addition, “the accommodation placed on the year-round rental market must have the same surface area and be located in the same municipality as the furnished tourist accommodation, specifies Marie-Hélène Hourquet, director of housing at the interco . These rules apply to both natural and legal persons, in particular civil real estate companies”.

For secondary residences, the compensation is set up from the first night. The method is drastic because only real estate professionals or multi-owners can “create” a new home in return. But the elected representatives of the Basque Country wanted to strike hard. And for good reason: rentals of furnished tourist accommodation jumped 130% between 2016 and 2020. And the local population is finding it increasingly difficult to find accommodation accessible all year round.

Control needed

However, exemptions are granted in two cases. On the one hand, in order to facilitate student housing, it is possible to rent out your property to a student for nine months, then as tourist accommodation for three months in summer. On the other hand, the regulations authorize the conversion of a room into furnished accommodation if it is located in the main residence of the owner. Indeed, these premises are not suitable for annual rental (non-differentiated access, non-individualised charges, etc.).

To define this regulation, “a dozen meetings were organized over a period of one year between elected officials and agents of the 24 municipalities concerned”, relates Roland Hirigoyen, vice-president in charge of habitat, housing and the policy of the town.

The regulations are currently suspended, pending a judgment on the merits. And there remains a major project to undertake to ensure the success of the measure, if it is ultimately validated: control. This will aim to verify that the short-term rental accommodation has indeed obtained the change of use and fulfilled the conditions requested. “This requires human resources. In order to set up effective control, we are considering a shared service at the level of the conurbation”, adds Roland Hirigoyen.

A controversial measure

The compensation for furnished tourist accommodation displeases some town councilors in the Basque Country. For the mayor of Hendaye, quoted by “Sud-Ouest”, this measure could harm the local economy and households who have bought a property to supplement their income. On the other hand, a mayor of a municipality located at the back of the coast, in a non-tense area, wishes to be able to adopt the regulation – he must request an exemption from the prefect. The effects of the device can be evaluated within two years. “According to our projections, the regulation is likely to concern 11,000 second homes, or 6.5% of the overall housing stock in the Basque Country, assesses Marie-Hélène Hourquet, the director of housing. The idea is that part of it will be put back on the classic rental market. In Bordeaux, the compensation has led to a sharp reduction in the number of ads for furnished tourist accommodation: 4,000 of them have disappeared.

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