Local authorities are able to reduce the level of rates on properties located within the perimeter of a ‘risk zone’, of which there are many in France.
With the increased number of natural disasters occurring in France, whether from storms or drought, the government has imposed a stronger obligation on local councils to improve the management of these risks.
The primary tool at their disposal is to insist that local authorities prepare risk prevention plans, called Plan de Prévention des Risques (PPR).
In those areas particularly at risk of a natural disaster (covering many parts of the country), the PPR divides the area into three planning zones:
- Red Zone – No planning permission permitted.
- Blue Zone – Planning permission subject to particular conditions.
- White Zone – Planning permission subject to local planning regulations.
Local authorities are permitted to reduce the taxe foncière for those households living within a risk zone, provided their property was constructed in the area prior to the introduction of the risk plan.
In the past the councils were able to grant a reduction of 25% or 50% in the level of the taxe foncière, but under new regulations, these percentages have been modulated to reflect more precisely the level of risk.
The main thrust of the changes is to actually reduce the discount to 15% and 30% respectively, depending on the level of risk, although in the most serious cases the reduction can be up to 60%.
Many any areas of France are presently covered by risk plans, with wider coverage to take place over the next few years.
If you consider you are eligible, and you are not being granted the reduction in your bill, then you need to discuss with your local council. You might best to first ask to see the local risk prevention plan.
Not all councils who are required to establish such plans have done so, in the absence of which no reduction in your rates bill on these grounds is possible. There has to be a PPR in place to trigger the reduction.
The local council also need to have formally decided to grant the reduction in the rates bill; it is discretionary power imposed on local authorities, not something they are obliged to do.
If the official whom you contact is does not know anything about it, you need to quote Article 1383 G du code général des impôts, as amended by Article 96 de la loi n° 2009-1673 de finances 2010.
Where a natural disaster occurs, and your property is damaged, there are also particular rules governing your entitlement to compensation from your house insurer, more of which you can read about at House Insurance Claims in France.