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© Arend Van Damen Le Figaro

© Arend Van Damen Le Figaro

President Hollande has said that the UK can “expect consequences” if it votes to leave the EU. So what might the consequences be for those who own a second home in France, or are thinking of buying or selling?

Even if the UK votes to leave on Thursday 23 June, there’s still at least 2 years before the UK will not be part of the EU. During this time, rights to work and travel across the EU will carry on as normal.

UK citizens who have already bought a property, or buy one in the 2 years following an exit, would be protected by “vested rights” under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. This means that France could not force a UK citizen to sell a property bought before “Brexit”, if France later decided the popular French Riviera was now only allowed to be bought up by EU citizens. Good news for current owners and those thinking of buying in the next 2 years. We anticipate a rush to buy if the UK does leave, so that this right to own can be exercised.

The UK/France tax treaties will remain, and continue to protect UK residents’ position in France. Even if they could, France would be reluctant to restrict any travel or future ownership on UK owners, because they would be restricting consumers of local goods and services, and their French assets would be fully liable to French tax.

The different capital gains tax rates which used to apply to EU and non EU residents no longer apply. It will make little tax difference after an exit. The 15.5% social charge (in its new form after being challenged in the European Court), charged on gains and rental income will apply to EU and non EU residents.

The EU Succession Regulation allows UK citizens to choose English Law on probate. Since the UK has opted out of this Regulation, it is already outside the EU on this issue.

Euro v GBP is the bigger issue right now as uncertainty remains, and will affect things after the referendum either way. For the bricks and mortar aspect of owning a home in France, we do not currently see there being any remarkable changes, whatever the result of the referendum.

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