Update 16 June 2017
For details on how to submit your complaint to the CCPC see this post.
The EU Commissioner for Consumer protection, Vera Jourová, has called for the relevant national authorities to investigate complaints made to her office on cases alleging the mis-selling of French leaseback properties.
She has responded to Vicky Ford’s intervention on behalf of owners and said that:
The European Commission currently has no enforcement powers in cases where traders have acted against national rules stemming from EU Consumer law.
She advises that Vicky Ford contact the UK Competition and Market Authority, CMA:
I would therefore advise that you contact the UK Competition and Market Authority, which in cooperation with your constituents and other victims of the mis-selling, would be best placed to establish which rules are applicable to the present case.
Brian Hayes MEP has already been in contact with the Irish equivalent, CCPC (Competition and Consumer Protection Commission). They have made an initial response.
She notes that Veronica Manfredi, Head of unit responsible for EU consumer and marketing law has already met with Brian Hayes and 3 owners. She mentions that the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive 2005/29/EC, may not have been transposed into national law at the time of the mis-selling.
It seems that this EU directive was transposed into Irish law on 1 May 2007, by the Consumer Protection Act 2007. See more on this from Mason Hayes Curran. It was required to have been transposed to all member states national laws by June 2007.
She makes no explicit mention of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Directive. Directive 93/13/EEC on Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts (the UCTD) protects consumers against unfair contract terms. Under Article 6 of this Directive, member states shall lay down that unfair terms in a consumer contract shall not be binding on the consumer. This, I believe, is fundamentally applicable to the leases and subsequent lease amendments agreeing to reduced rent.
Ms Jourová also indicates that there may be national financial regulation rules to be taken account of also if the properties were advertised as investments. In most cases they were advertised as both a lifestyle product and a financial investment. Hundreds of consumers intended to use them as a kind of pension. It is for this reason that the petition calls for the Irish Central Bank to investigate also. They have taken no role thus far. Their response was that the Irish Central Bank has no role in the regulation of property investments. Jourová calls on the national consumer authorities to investigate this aspect of the alleged mis-selling also.
The French consumer authority, DGCCRF (Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes), has been contacted by the European Commission. Ms Marie-Paule Benassi, Head of unit responsible for consumer enforcement and redress has communicated with them. The DGCCRF is looking into the matter but would need more precise information about the operators involved in the leaseback schemes.
Ms Jourová suggests that:
The UK Competition and Market Authority and the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Authority share with the French DGCCRF all relevant information. DG Justice and Consumers is available to assist the co-ordination and to bring this issue also to the attention of the enforcement authorities of other Member States whose citizens may also be affected.
What should French leaseback owners do now?
The logical next step would be for all owners who believe they were mis-sold to submit the details of their case to their relevant consumer body. An initial submission might include a brief summary of the purchase with dates and what happened subsequently. Include all pertinent details from the marketing and the lease, stating the ‘guaranteed’ rent and the lack of information regarding the lease going on forever. Highlight the aspects of the sale that were mis-leading. For example, if you had known that the guaranteed rent was not in fact guaranteed in any way whatsoever, and in fact frequently was not paid at all, or if you had known that the lease went on forever, you would not have made the purchase and would not have signed such a lease contract.
Include the following (or supply at a later stage):
- your name, address and contact details
- any advertising, marketing material, newspaper articles, websites etc which initially prompted the decision to purchase the property
- any material from the selling agent, either in Ireland or in France
- any material you received from the intermediary/agent/developer in France, who assisted in the arranging of the purchase
- any material you received from the intermediary/agent in France in relation to financing the property
- any contract documentation you received on purchasing the property and the full name of the trader (development company)
- any contract documentation you received when you arranged the lease back and the full name and details for the trader (developer/sister management company)
- the new lease documentation and the full name of the trader (where a second or lease amendment was signed)
In my view it is important that the relevant consumer body are aware of all owners who believe there was mis-selling and unfair contract terms in their purchase of a French leaseback.
While there are many groups of owners within the same development there are many of these and with multiple operators. There were also multiple sales agents, notaires and banks involved.
Include a reference to the EU Commissioner for Consumer protection, Vera Jourová, and say she that after being contacted by Vicky Ford MEP, she has called for the relevant national authorities to investigate complaints made to her office on cases alleging the mis-selling of French leaseback properties.
Irish Owners – Make a Complaint to CCPC (Competition and Consumer Protection Commission)
The CCPC have requested that Irish citizens make their complaints to email@example.com.
In this way the complaint will be logged correctly.
The Consumer Helpline is available at lo-call 1890 432 432 or 01 402 5555 (opening hours are from 9:00 to 18:00 Monday to Friday)
and the postal address is:
Post: Bloom House, PO Box 12585, Railway Street, Dublin 1
For more detail go to their website.
UK Owners – Notify the CMA (Competition and Market Authority)
You can submit the details of the mis-selling you have experienced to the UK consumer authority by contacting them below:
They have a notification form you can use or you can email them directly at :
For more detail go to their website.
Owners from other EU Member States
Identify your national consumer authority and submit your case to them. Include the above.