Strasbourg strategy against empty houses


Strasbourg strategy against empty houses

Mismatches Vacant housing
Policies and regulations Global frameworks Governance Data and monitoring Evaluation and impact

Main objectives of the project

Addressing housing concerns encompasses not only individuals without homes but also properties without occupants. In response, Strasbourg Eurométropole (Metropolitan Area of Strasbourg) initiated a strategic approach aimed at transforming vacant dwellings into accessible housing options. This initiative reflects a meticulously devised policy grounded in comprehensive data and knowledge, designed to bolster the city's social housing sector while providing viable solutions for owners of unoccupied properties.


  • 2015: Implementation


  • Strasbourg Eurométropole


Continent: Europe
Country/Region: France, Strasbourg


Strasbourg recognized the pressing issue surrounding vacant housing: many properties could easily be repurposed into social rental units. However, understanding why these properties remained unoccupied proved challenging. Thus, an assessment program was initiated. Leveraging the Ministry of Economy and Finance's list of vacant homes, city hall corresponded with listed owners, arranging interviews to delve into the reasons behind the vacancy. The focus was primarily on small landlords, who often cited concerns such as unpaid rent, property degradation, and cumbersome administrative procedures as deterrents to renting out their properties. The result of the meeting was that the existing systems lacked clarity, exacerbating the situation. Some owners had previously rented out their properties but encountered difficulties, ranging from tenant disputes to necessary but unaffordable building repairs.

Armed with insights into the issue, the city swiftly moved toward solutions. A comprehensive 'toolbox' was developed, comprising easily understandable documents and accessible financial assistance to guide owners through their options. Free advice is now available, covering property valuation, heritage significance assessment, and eligibility for grants. The National Habitat Agency steps in to assist landlords in connecting with new tenants or mediating disputes with existing ones.

To incentivize owners to make their properties available for social housing, the Eurometropole offers grants of up to €3,000. This incentive, disbursed on a 'half now, half later' basis, provides €1,500 upon removing the property from vacancy and offering it for social housing, with an additional €1,500 granted if the tenancy lasts at least two years. Each municipality within Strasbourg Eurometropole manages the disbursement, tailoring the system to local needs.

Furthermore, the city negotiated preferential rates with banks, resulting in zero-interest loans for owners undertaking building improvements to make their properties tenant-ready. To assist owners in finding suitable contractors, the city compiled a categorized list of companies operating in various service areas.

These initiatives aimed at small landlords are driving an increase in affordable rents while aiding struggling families in managing their real estate assets. Since May 2016, the Eurometropole has spent €320,000 (€1400 per dwelling). It has mobilised 230 vacant dwellings (all rented at social rental rates), 87 of which were rented through rental intermediation (40%). Ten municipalities are involved and over 500 landlords have been met.