A quarter of multi-owner households own two thirds of housing in France… Why this is a problem

Figures that may surprise. In France, in 2017, 24% of multi-owners owned 68% of homes owned by individuals, according to the study France portrait social of INSEE published this Thursday. Households owning three or more dwellings (11% of households) owned nearly half of the stock (46%). “We are on the continuation of a trend which shows the widening of wealth inequalities in our country”, comments Yankel Fijalkow, sociologist of housing and professor of social sciences at the National School of Architecture Paris Val-de-Seine.

“These figures prove that real estate wealth is very concentrated in France. And that the rise in real estate prices over the past thirty years has benefited households that are already owners, who have been able to continue to invest, while first-time buyers are increasingly difficult, ”emphasizes Alain Trannoy, director of study at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Marseille. “We have been waiting for this data for a long time. The myth of the small pensioner owning only one home is crumbling, ”adds Jean-Baptiste Eyraud, spokesperson for the Right to Housing (DAL).

49% of multi-owners own at least one rental property

Multi-owners have an identifiable profile: they are older and more often in a couple than all French households. And 41% of them belong to the wealthiest 20% of French people. “The others were able to become owners by benefiting from an inheritance”, comments Alain Trannoy. And the more their standard of living increases, the more households own a higher number of dwellings.

What do they do with their real estate? Do they praise some of them? Yes, for half of them, who own at least one rental accommodation. From the third home owned, the real estate ownership of individuals is mainly for rental use. But these are not always long term rentals. “However, if several cities have implemented a limitation on tourist rentals under penalty of taxes, others have not done so. In addition, there are not enough checks carried out by municipal teams to verify that the owners are on the right track, ”says Alain Trannoy.

An impact on the population of large cities

“This means that the other half of timeshare owners don’t rent out any of their properties. This partly explains the fact that in France, 4 million homes are vacant. A big problem when we know that our country has 4 million poorly housed and 1.8 million people in demand for social housing, ”underlines Yankel Fijalkow. Of course, incentives have been put in place by the various governments to encourage owners to rent their property, but it is clear that they have not borne fruit. “The taxes imposed on homeowners remain fairly moderate,” comments Yankel Fijalkow. And despite unpaid rent insurance, some landlords are still worried about finding unscrupulous tenants.

INSEE also insists on the geographic dimension of these timeshare. Because these households alone own 37% of homes located in the center of large cities, particularly in Lyon, Marseille, Paris, Toulouse and Lille. Households owning 5 or more dwellings own a high share of these urban assets. They thus own 40% of housing in Paris. This has direct consequences for the rest of the population of these large cities, as Yankel Fijalkow explains: “This contributes to reducing the rental supply in these metropolises and to making old city centers not very inhabited”.

A campaign theme?

This data may be used during the electoral campaign by charities or candidates wishing to fight against inequalities in France. “This study can reopen the debate on tax justice, in particular on the advisability or not of revising the property tax”, breathes Alain Trannoy.

For Jean-Baptiste Eyraud, this study shows the urgency to act on several fronts: “the regulation of rents, the freeze of the rent at the change of tenant, the limitation of Airbnb rentals, or the respect of the obligations related to the granting of tax assistance ”.

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