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  • Report
  • 13th Mar 2024

Encouraging owners of empty homes to put them back on the property market

As of January 1, 2020, INSEE reported more than 3 million empty homes in France. Faced with growing housing needs and seeking alternatives that do not entail construction, the tool “Zéro logement vacant” was created by DGALN and to help local authorities to identify and reach out to the owners of these homes. 

Working alongside the DITP, we sought to understand the main barriers preventing owners of empty homes from putting them back on the market, and assessed the potential of behavioural science to help local authorities communicate effectively with these owners, and encourage them to put their properties back on the market. 

Our work identified (1) barriers linked to the communications themselves (which are found in many official communications), such as a lack of clarity in certain communications, complexity in the language used, etc., and (2) obstacles directly linked to the issue of vacancy itself (apprehensions about the time, effort and financial cost of returning properties to the market, concerns about renting them out, etc.). 

We have identified a long list of behavioural levers that could be mobilised to overcome them. By focusing on the levers that could be used in local authority communications with these landlords, we have produced a guide for local authorities to equip them with communications tools and practical advice to effectively communicate with owners. 

The guide was co-designed with partner local authorities. We then ran a pilot to test it: most of the letters sent out included our recommendations for attractive and simple communications. They appear to have helped boost response rates, but these results remain a preliminary analysis, with no implication of causality.

Download the report on the DITP website