How can British expats and French property owners help Ukrainian refugees?

Flag of France and flag of ukraine crossed with each other

France stands with Ukraine - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

All around the world people are donating money, clothing and medical supplies to help Ukrainian refugees, giving to international organisations such as the Red Cross as well as local fundraising initiatives. How can you help if you’re a British expat living in France or a British owner of a French property? 

Donating funds 

The French government has put together a list of reputable organisations online, including the United Nations Refugee Agency, Unicef, Médecins Sans Frontières and Aide médicale et caritative France-Ukraine. 

Please take care when making monetary donations as, sadly, fake fundraising/volunteering schemes have already been spotted. For example, a member of our team saw an official post shared on Twitter where the bank account number had been overwritten.  

Eiffel Tower lit with colours of Ukraine flag

Many French buildings and monuments have been lit with the colours of the Ukranian flag to show solidarity with Ukraine - Credit: Pierre Blaché/Creative Commons

Donating basic necessities, medical equipment and medicines 

Many associations and municipalities have launched collections, providing lists of the items required. The NGOs recommend hygiene and health products or canned food. 

The national mayors association in France (La Protection Civile et l'Association des maires de France) has also drawn up a list (campbeds, sleeping bags, wipes, preserves, haemostatic dressings, antiseptic solutions etc) with collection points throughout France.  

You can also check locally to see where you can drop off donations - consult the website of your local town hall for collection places and times.  

Welcoming Ukrainian refugees in France and offering accommodation 

You can contact your local municipality or associations helping people in difficulty (Secours Populaire, Red Cross, Secours Catholique etc). 

The official platform Je m'engage pour l'Ukraine launched on 8 March 2022 by the French government supports people living in France who wish to host Ukrainian refugees.  

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Are there any risks to loaning my French holiday home to a refugee? 

Unless the French State were to change rules on residential leases, there is a risk that a tenancy agreement of anything more than a year is likely to be treated as a standard residential lease. This would mean that the lease would run for three years, and the occupant would have a right to renew at the end of the period. It would only be possible to take back possession if the owner needs to sell or needs to occupy it for their own permanent residence. 

Loaning the property for shorter period, say three or six months, would provide better protection, but you should discuss the proposal with a notaire or avocat who specialises in property law before entering into any formal agreement. It would also be advisable to check whether there would be any tax consequences or local restrictions on letting out property.