The European Commission has a legal representative in Ireland. I put the French leaseback problem to her and this is the response:
Unfortunately, property matters such as leasebacks are not regulated by EU law. The sale of these leasebacks appears to be a matter of French contract and conveyancing law and beyond the competence of EU law. In fact, since this is a commercial lease, none of the consumer protection legislation can apply. Therefore, this is a matter of French law and must be pursued through the French legal system. The issues raised are outside the scope of EU law. Only if you can successfully demonstrate that non-French citizens are being discriminated against by the French authorities by comparison with French citizens in breach of Article 18 TFEU, could the matter become one in which EU law could possibly intervene.
I further queried the law noting that there is an EU Directive in relation to timeshare properties (a scandal some years back with similar sharp practice and mis-selling to consumers) and how we can pressure for the creation of a similar directive. This is the response:
Thank you for your email, which was sent to Siobhan Duffy. Her advice is as indicated below.
Ms. Duffy advises that you contact your local Member of the European Parliament, as MEPs can put pressure on the Commission to introduce legislation.
I have attached a linked to Your Europe Advice where you may get a more detailed response. However, your enquiry may be rejected as such matters are beyond the scope of the remit of the EU.
You may need to employ the services of a lawyer in France.
All roads appear to be pointing back to taking a French legal action – torturously slow, expensive and, frankly, I have little confidence in the French judiciary (on past experience)…
Take your own query to the Your Europe Legal Advice service.