À un fraction du coût

I would absolutely love to own an apartment in Paris. Considering that it is the most expensive city in the world in which to buy, however, that’s a dream that seems rather remote. The idea of buying an apartment and then renting it during the weeks I’m not there seems like one way of defraying the cost. But there’s a catch beyond the practical difficulty of finding suitable tenants who won’t trash the place. There’s been a law on the books in France since 2005 making it illegal to rent out a residential apartment in a city with a population over 200,000 without a lease of at least one year’s duration. Why? Foreigners with un pied à terre in Paris are perceived to be one of the reasons that it’s so hard to find a suitable apartment, especially in that most desirable corridor known as Paris Ouest.

The way around that is to declare the apartment as a commercial property, but that isn’t particularly straightforward either. Zoning laws don’t always permit this transformation and it makes it more complicated to resell the property later.  Although the law has rarely been enforced, there’s been an uptick in such cases since 2010. Uneasy lies the head that sleeps on the pillow of the illegal Paris apartment.

If you’re not particularly concerned about income from your apartment, you might want to consider fractional ownership. Much like a time share, the ownership is divided among ten or more owners as are the costs of professional management. Owners buy blocks of weeks, with the most appealing summer and holiday weeks costing about twice as much as weeks during the low-season.

There are a number of Paris-based firms that specialize in fractional ownership:

There are differences in how many weeks you need to buy, in the quality and appeal of the décor, in the size of the apartments, and in location, location, location. There are legal distinctions as well, such as whether the law of France or the US will apply.

Today’s expression à un fraction du coût (ah uhn frak-see-ohn due koo) means “at a fraction of the price.” Careful homework is obviously called for before taking the plunge into fractional ownership. I think I’ll need at least a year in Paris to make sure I get it just right.

Buying a Piece of Paris: A Memoir

About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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