Under French law a 'mobile home' is defined as a vehicle designed for temporary or seasonal leisure occupation, which retains the means of mobility enabling them to be moved by being towed, but forbidden to circulate independently on the highway.
The law states, 'Les véhicules terrestres habitables qui sont destinés à une occupation temporaire ou saisonnière à usage de loisir, qui conservent des moyens de mobilité leur permettant d'être déplacés par traction mais que le code de la route interdit de faire circuler.'
The maximum surface area (surface hors oeuvre brute) of a mobile home can be no more than 40m2. Above this threshold it becomes a leisure building, for which there are different rules.
Likewise, if the mobile home loses its means of mobility, or becomes otherwise fixed to the ground, it loses its status as a mobile home. Accordingly, it should not in any way be fixed to the ground, nor should its deplacment be empeded by installations such as a cover or fencing. It it does then it becomes either a leisure building, or a new construction.
Planning laws forbid the permanent installation of a mobile home on private land, whether your own, or that of another person. They must either be installed either on a residential leisure park created for this purpose, either a parc residentiel de loisirs or a village de vacance en hebergement.
Alternatively, they may also be installed on a camping site. They cannot be installed on a caravan site, even on a temporary basis.
Since 2011, even where they are installed on an authorised site, it cannot be for a period longer than two consecutive years. This is to prevent these sites becoming used for permanent homes.
No formal permission is required to install a mobile home on private land for less than three months (15 days in a protected area), but beyond this timescale the owner must seek the approval of the planning authority. The three month period need not be consecutive.
If the external surface area of the mobile home is no greater than 20m2 then it is necessary to submit only a works declaration; above this figure then a planning application is required. As a general rule, this permission is only likely to be forthcoming for a limited period, pending the progress of renovation or other building works.
The use of mobile homes on building sites is subject to separate regulation; they are permitted to remain for the duration of the works, or for the sale of properties on the development.
If the mobile home is to be transported on the public highway, then it requires the authority of the prefecture. The mobile home must moved by a specialist transport company as a convoi exceptionnel. This requires that it must be escorted and may be required to be transported at certain times.
Mobile homes are not ordinarily subject to rates or other local taxes, provided they conserve their means of mobility and are used on a temporary or seasonal basis. This rule applies even though the mobile home may also be on support system or with electricity and water connected.
Nevertheless, since 1st Oct 2011, those who occupy a mobile home as a permanent residence are liable for an annual tax of €150 (reduced to €100 for those mobile homes at least 10 years old). This tax is called la taxe annuelle sur les résidences mobiles terrestres.
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