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Corsican lawmakers pass 'residents only' home-buying law

Legislators in Corsica have made it compulsory for people to be permanent residents for a minimum of five years before they can buy property on the French island.

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Corsica’s Executive Council, the regional governmental body, approved the law restricting real estate transactions on Friday, with 29 votes in  favour, 18 votes against and four abstentions.

Proponents of the bill said the move would help curb speculation that has inflated the price of houses, apartments and land on the picturesque Mediterranean island.

Holiday homes owned by residents of mainland France and by foreigners now represent up to 40 percent of all Corsican real estate, according to local authorities.

France’s national statistics agency INSEE said the island had 7,000 holiday homes in 1968 but in 2007 counted as many as 71,000.

The bill sharply divided left-wing lawmakers, with most of the dissenting votes on Friday coming from members of the far-left who warned the measure would lead to the creation of a real-estate black market.

The law also contains a provision to raise taxes on vacation properties, according to local daily Corse Matin.

The new residency requirement law would provide exceptions for native Corsicans living abroad.

Debate over the law has been raging since last summer, when Paul Giacobbi, the head of Corsica’s Executive Council, began championing it.

Nationalists opposed to foreign investment in Corsican properties as second homes have sometimes resorted to using explosives to blow up houses as a warning to outsiders to leave the island.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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