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If you are Looking to buy a second home on the French Riviera then we have good news for you! The mayors of both Nice and Cannes have just declared that they will not be implementing a weighty new increase in the taxe d’habitation.

The new bill purports to free up housing but opponents suggest it will further damage an already struggling property market.

A popular site for second homes, the French Riviera would be significantly affected by the new property tax. Fortunately, the application of the tax is down to the municipal authorities. This has allowed Nice and Cannes to opt out.

Speaking to France 3. David Lisnard, Mayor of Cannes stated: “I have not applied this measure to Cannes; I think it would be extremely detrimental.”

A spokesperson for Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi, today told The Riviera Times that “The City of Nice is categorically opposed to this tax.”

Both states come following Finance Minister Michael Sapin’s announcement that affected communities are allowed to opt out of the tax.

“The principle is simple, the tax goes into the funds of the community; if they do not want the tax then a simple vote will be sufficient to ensure that it is not applicable in that area,” said the finance minister, adding, “the State is not forcing this upon anyone.”

The bill, included in amendments to the end-budget for 2014, allows communities to enforce a tax increase of 20% upon owners of furnished accommodation which is not their principal residence. The aim is to encourage the huge numbers of predominantly empty second homes to be “freed up” in areas of housing shortage.

The tax increase concerns 1,150 towns including Ajaccio, Bastia, Menton, Draguignan, Fréjus and Toulon – if the respective authorities do not choose to opt out.

In certain circumstances, exemption from the tax on second-home owners may be a possibility. For example, those who settle permanently in a nursing home or institution of long-term care will be eligible for a rebate, according to Nice Matin. The same will apply to those who can prove that they are unable to use their second home for reasons beyond their control.

Opinion is deeply divided on the tax. With many doubting the hypothesised impact the housing shortage. At the hearing of Budget, held on Wednesday by the commission of the National Assembly, Vice President Charles de Courson said he was concerned by plan.

“Do you think for one moment that this measure will help to free up some of the stock [of empty housing]? … Do you think that people, for 300 to 400 euros per month, will even temporarily rent out their apartment?” the vice president said, according to Nice Matin.

The most severe effects are expected to be felt in Paris and the surrounding area,as well as the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts.

“Obviously these are areas where Brits will ordinarily have their second home. The result will be a 20 per cent increase for Brits with holiday homes in these areas and this could be applied from this year,” said Graeme Perry, a London-based French property expert with Sykes Anderson Perry.

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