5. Heritage Properties in France

Financial assistance for 'heritage' properties are awarded by the Fondation du Patrimoine, whose main role is the protection and restoration of properties of historic or architectural interest in rural areas.

As a general rule, the assistance is in the form of tax relief up to 50% of costs, during the period when the works are carried, out up to a maximum of 5 years.

If you pay little or no income tax (as is the case for nearly 50% of the population), then a grant is payable, up to 20% of the works relating to the external structure.

The grant is only payable when the work has been completed and you will need to carry out the work in compliance with the strict restorations standards of the Fondation.

There are a surprising number of modest buildings that have been awarded the classification. The buildings include not merely a house but ancillary buildings and interesting architectural features of an older property.

One important criterion is that the property should be visible to the public, so an otherwise interesting but isolated property that cannot be seen by passing traffic is unlikely to be eligible.

Accordingly, the main focus of assistance will be on the external areas of the property. Internal parts will only be considered to the extent to which the work is necessary to preserve the integrity of the property.

If you think you may qualify then you can make application to your Regional Office.

There are also grants available for properties of major historical or architectural interest through the préfecture.

The level of these grants can be quite substantial, up to 40% of the cost of works.

There are also a range of tax benefits available for such buildings.

As you might imagine the whole process of seeking financial assistance for a property of this kind is fraught with bureaucratic hurdles.

If you own such a property or you seek classification, you should make enquiries to the Service Départemental de l’Architecture or the Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles (DRAC) within your préfecture.

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