60% increase in vacant housing in France since 1990

The number of vacant homes reached 3.1 million in France in 2023, an increase of 60% since 1990, according to a study by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Insee), published Tuesday January 16. In 2023, these unoccupied homes – as distinguished from second homes – represented 8.2% of the total housing stock in France excluding Mayotte, or 1.2 million more than in 1990.

“The share of vacant housing is higher in areas with the least population density (…). Conversely, it remains lower in the areas of attraction of the most populated cities, in areas with demographic growth or in those known for their tourist attraction.adds INSEE, whose work is based on tax data and the population census.

This increase occurred mainly “from 2005” and has since reached “2.5% on average per year”notes the study, which means that the number of vacant housing units has increased “2.3 times faster than the total number of housing units between 2005 and 2023”. The increase concerns “almost all departments”, with the exception of Corsica and Hérault.

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Rural departments particularly affected

Long vacancy generally reflects a “demographic decline, a mismatch between supply and demand, age or even unsanitary housing, disputes between tenants and owners or even inheritance problems”, further details INSEE. Among the multiple causes of the increase observed, the study mentions “the evolution of the population and construction”, but also the “effects of the economic situation or tax and regulatory developments”.

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Rural departments located along the “empty diagonal” this line of low population density which runs from the Ardennes to Ariège – as well as the Orne are particularly affected, unlike the Alpine departments and those located “along the Atlantic, in Ile-de-France and in the Var”. In Paris, and in cities with more than 700,000 inhabitants, the proportion of unoccupied housing is lower (7%), although with disparities.

The situations are contrasted in areas of cities with between 200,000 and 700,000 inhabitants, with a low vacancy rate in Bayonne or Cannes, and a high rate in Pau, Avignon or Saint-Etienne. It is in towns with less than 50,000 inhabitants that the housing vacancy rate is on average the highest, at 9.6% in 2020, also with marked differences, specifies INSEE.

The World with AFP