- In 24 municipalities of the Basque Country, the inhabitants have great difficulty in finding year-round housing because of a shortage of offers and very high prices.
- Solicited during a call for contributions launched by 20 Minutes, some even explain that they had to resolve to move away or even leave this territory where they were sometimes born.
- The community of municipalities, which has just implemented a compensation measure to discourage short-term rentals, is also trying to build more social housing and limit second homes. But the effects are limited and it asks for the help of the State to go further, especially on taxation.
"From the end of 2019 to January 2022, I was faced with the impossibility of finding year-round accommodation for my two children and me," says Cécile, who works in Anglet. I had to live in a motorhome in a campsite for several months, then rent in a mobile home when possible. Even when I applied for so-called "social" housing, I could not envisage the hope of returning to live in the Basque Country. Like Carole, many Basques today say they have great difficulty finding year-round housing because of a shortage of offers and very high prices.
This is the other side of the "postcard" scenery of the region that attracts about 3,000 new inhabitants a year. Since 2018, furnished tourist rentals have increased by 130% in the most tense sectors: 24 coastal and retro-coastal municipalities (Anglet, Biarritz, Bayonne, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, etc.). The community of communes ensures that it has taken this problem, which has been accentuated since 2015, head on. Very recently, in March 2023, it has set up a compensation principle that obliges owners who would like to rent their property as a short-term tourist rental to produce another dwelling of the same surface area and in the same municipality, for a year-round rental. A deterrent measure whose effects will have to be delayed a little to measure.
"I leave the Basque Country, with a heavy and sad heart"
Thus, Patrick, who responded to our call for testimonies, also gave up living in the Basque Country, where he lived for thirty-five years with his companion. Since their separation, he simply no longer has the means to relocate there. "After months of research, I found a way to buy in the Landes, where I can buy a small house," he says. I am leaving the Basque Country in three months, with a heavy and sad heart. »
Barbara's landlord wants to take over her home. The one who has been looking for almost three years for a new apartment to rent speaks of a completely paralyzed market, having failed to get any visits. "There are almost no year-round rental ads and when there are, they are at exorbitant prices (for example 1,300 euros for a 30 m2). If we do not find within the time we have left, we will be forced to leave the Basque Country where we were born. How sad... »
The situation also discourages first-time buyers. Romain, 27, arrived in Anglet in 2019 to work with an executive status and a salary close to 2,000 euros. In 2022, he wants to buy a T2 but is disillusioned when he discovers the prices around 200,000 euros: "I had to widen my search area and leave the Basque coast to settle in Saint-Martin-de-Seignanx, twenty minutes by car. " And Romain is not the only one to move inland... "Mayors are complaining because they see more and more people arriving who have decided to move 15 to 20 kilometers from the coast and prices are rising," says Roland Hirigoyen, vice-president of housing and housing at the Basque Country Community of Municipalities.
Up to 50% second homes
According to Laurie, the confiscation of housing by seasonal rentals is no longer to be demonstrated. This owner of a T2 apartment is overwhelmed by applications as the departure of her tenant approaches, without even having placed an announcement or shown around: "It's by word of mouth, because where I work, at the hospital, some are on the street in June/July because of seasonal rentals. "
According to the Union of Furnished Tourist Rental Companies of the Basque Country, the problem does not come from short-term rentals. "The vast majority of homes are second homes that will never be put on the year-round rental market because owners will continue to want to take advantage of them," she explains on her website. In some of these 24 most attractive municipalities in the Basque Country, up to 50% of second homes are located.
Avoid the "explosion" of anger of the population
With the compensation measure with a deterrent purpose, "we could recover 11,000 housing units per year on the coastal and retro-coastal areas," says Roland Hirigoyen. And to recall that the seasonal rental would then be less lucrative (it gives right to 60% tax deduction currently). It should be noted that the agglomeration has also embarked on the construction of social housing. It is a difficult task. "The economic situation penalizes the construction of new housing because of the scarcity of land and inflation on the prices of materials, deplores the vice-president in charge of housing. The operations are very difficult to get out and some have even been stopped along the way. »
Our dossier on the Basque Country
Finally, the community of municipalities also wants to be able to quickly set up rent controls on the 24 municipalities of the tense area. "All the measures that the intercommunality could take, it has taken, we are now asking for radical measures from the State," says Roland Hirigoyen who fears, without strong national action, "an explosion" on the part of the local population, already very uplifted, and who has demonstrated twice in the last six months.
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