Squatters moving into expat second homes in Brittany

Published:  29 Jun at 6 PM
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Expats with second homes in Brittany were horrified to hear squatters are moving into their unoccupied properties.

The controversy over British expats’ second homes in Brittany is accelerating after activists promised to force Britons to sell their holiday and second homes. The protestors have promised an entire summer of what they call ‘spectacular actions’ and seem to have started already by plastering posters bearing their message ‘’Brittany is not a second home - villages in ruins – young people leaving’ all over unoccupied properties. It seems squatters unable to afford to buy or rent homes in the region are now breaking into expat owned houses and taking them over.

The activist group’s name means ‘revolution’, and feeling has been running high in the region for a good while as some villages shut down almost entirely once the summer visitors have come and gone. In this popular northwestern corner of France, some 14 per cent of all properties are owned by either expats from the UK, Belgium and Germany or weekenders from Paris. Second homes in Brittany sell for around €120,000, unaffordable for locals.

According to Ewan Thebaud, a member of the activist group, his people don’t squat unoccupied second homes, but if young locals who can’t afford to either rent or buy do so, that’s fine. One 69-year old British expat owner of a second home in the region believes it would be a shame if protests became violent as Bretons are genuinely friendly towards incomers. One major problem is that, when homes are empty for most of the year, public services tend to disappear.

The mayor of Carnac, however, disagrees with the activists, saying locals are more than pleased to sell their homes at extortionate prices to incomers, but they then complain they can’t find new homes for themselves. He also points out second home owners spend a great deal of money updating their properties, giving work and wages to local builders. Getting rid of all second home owners, he adds, would be shooting ourselves in the foot.
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