Updated 5th Nov 2017
Peter O’Dwyer had another article in The Times (Irish edition) on 31st Oct 2017 – see Property ‘scam’ complaints passed to French watchdog.
Peter O’Dwyer had an article in The Times (Irish edition) on 10th Oct 2017, Irish Victims of Alleged French Property Scam Win Reprieve, where he outlines the view of European Commission regarding how owners can demand that a French court stay any re-possession proceedings until it is proven that the owners’ consumer rights were not violated. The statement was given to Peter by Veronica Manfredi, Head of Consumer Law Unit at the EC. Read more on EU Consumer Directives.
“If a consumer tells a court that he believes that his European rights have been violated, the court must stay the proceedings and assess whether this is the case. There is ample case law from the Court of Justice of the European Union on this, notably concerning mortgage enforcement proceedings,” the official advised.
Mr Hayes said the banks should halt their proceedings immediately: “The French banks granted mortgages to the Irish purchasers despite false and misleading information used in advertising and contracts. The guaranteed regular rental income never transpired and many of the properties halved in value.
He followed it up on 14th Oct with another piece, Irish Leaseback Buyers Get French Help.
“The DGCCRF assured us that it is committed to seek solutions for the consumers from other member states affected in this leaseback properties issue and it will contact the commission in case EU-level assistance to facilitate communications with the other authorities is needed.”
BBC2 Victoria Derbyshire
There was a fantastic film and discussion on the BBC2 Victoria Derbyshire program on 27th September 2017 by journalist James Melley. James had a great handle on the issues and the program clearly outlined the problems which Irish and UK purchasers of French leaseback properties have experienced. The program featured contributions from owners, Daniel Dalton MEP and Vicky Ford MP.
It also featured a contribution by Richard Green, head of Madame Vacances/Eurogroup, one of the leaseback operators that owners have taken issue with. His answer to Victoria Derbyshire when asked why he was demanding eviction compensation from the owner in the studio who was trying to get out of disadvantageous contracts was that it was ‘statutory’. It was as if French law required that he demand such huge compensation. Bless..he just can’t help it..
He also made reference to ‘rescuing’ the resort for owners and how it was the work of his people in France that had created such value in the resort for owners. The owner in the studio didn’t quite agree that he’d been ‘rescued’ and as for the value, well he reckoned he was down €70k.
Richard Green tried to put some spin on his message. Unfortunately for him, it went well off course.
Kudos to the BBC and James Melley for taking this issue to a national UK audience.
The program is available on the BBC Player for 30 days.
Jim Stafford answered a French leaseback owners question in the Indo on 1st October 2017, How to Handle Sale and Leaseback Mess. The news wasn’t good. The owner wanted to know what would happen if he defaulted on his French mortgage. It’s a question that many Irish purchasers of French leaseback properties have asked. See Jims response:
If you stop paying the mortgage, the bank is likely to repossess the property and sell the property as a ‘distressed property’, which would likely increase your losses. The bank would then seek to recover any residual debt from you. It would first have to obtain a judgment against you in France. You could defend the proceedings on possible grounds of mis-selling, as many of the loans were organised through the developers. If the bank does obtain a judgment against you, it could then enforce that judgment through the Irish High Court by obtaining a European enforcement order against you. The bank could effectively attack the equity in your Irish home.
Having spoken to legal experts here in Ireland it seems that they don’t come cheap and trying to attack the family home would be a very costly exercise for the French bank (or vulture fund that they might sell the debt on to).
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