Local politicians on the French island of Corsica have voted to impose a ban on buyers unless they are permanent residents. But property legal experts believe that the move is unlikely ever to become law.
The Corsican parliament voted for the ban in a bid to cool prices on the Mediterranean island which is popular with second home owners. The number of holiday homes on Corsica has soared from 7000 in 1968 to 710,000 today, according to statistics agency INSEE.
It is estimated that as many as 40% of properties on the island are owned by people who are not residents and this has led to prices soaring and local people being priced out of the market.
Many wealthy buyers from Paris and from other countries are willing pay a premium for spectacularly beautiful locations.
But the ban would have to be approved by both the National Assembly and the Senate and even it if managed to pass those two hurdles, it would almost certainly hit a wall at the constitutional stages and could be banned by the European Union.
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Housing department officials in Paris are saying that it would be classed as discrimination under articles 225-1 of the French penal code and declared unconstitutional.
Traditionally second home owners on Corsica have tended to buy properties on the coast but in recent years they have been buying homes inland due to a shortage of coastal properties coming onto the market.
Some politicians had wanted a 10 year restriction imposed. They also argued that people born on the island who left and then returned should not be subject to the five year residency rule.
‘If one can buy land here as easily as you could buy a bar of chocolate in a supermarket, then we are heading for catastrophe. The only solution is to limit access for non residents,’ said Paul Giacobbi, head of the island’s Executive Council.
‘We need to tackle the massive appropriation of real estate as holiday homes which inflicts economic, social and even political harm in daily life,’ he added.
Corsica is a hugely popular tourist destination, but it also has high unemployment and organized crime, which has been linked to property speculation.
Marie-Dominique Roustan-Lanfranchi of the anti-nationalist association France-Corse believes that a better solution would be to release more land for building affordable homes.
‘Property prices are rising everywhere, in regions such as the south of France and in Paris. People have to stop thinking that Corsica is alone. The issue is that there is simply not enough land earmarked for construction,’ she explained.
This article was republished with permission from Property Wire.