Hundreds of homeowners have sued France's national housing agency, the Agence nationale pour l’habitat (Anah), over unpaid claims from the MaPrimeRenov’ scheme.
The scheme - which sees Ahah subsidise wholly or in part ecologically-friendly home renovations - is facing a number of problems.
In April the Defender of Rights in France attended a hearing in the Senate over the scheme’s online failures, which was shortly followed by the court case.
The majority of the cases included late unpaid subsidies but also cases where the scheme had promised to subsidise work before later revoking payment.
More than one thousand ‘unjustified’ refusals
“The objective is to resolve the dramatic situations caused by processing delays and unjustified rejections that both individuals and professionals in the sector suffer," said Joyce Pitcher, one of the lawyers who help homeowners with cases via the justice.cool platform.
The lawyer claims out of the 15,000 MaPrimeRenov’ applications they have looked at, 22% were denied a payment on “unjustified” grounds, and subsidies were paid out on average seven months after construction work as opposed to the promised three weeks.
For users who pay for work upfront (which can sometimes cost tens of thousands of euros), the wait times can hit hard, especially for ‘modest income’ households who the largest grants are directed towards.
Echoing the Defender of Rights in April, the lawyer also bemoaned “computer malfunctions” and “strong disorganisation” within the scheme.
There are around 3,300 cases- totalling around €19 million subsidies - that are yet to be paid according to justice.cool.
The case ‘Does not reflect our efforts’
Housing Minister Olivier Klein has denied the claims, saying the figures “do not reflect the efforts made by Anah”.
“The average time for payment of the aid of MaPrimeRénov' is five weeks, less than three weeks if the file is complete and three months maximum in case of reinforced controls,” he added.
He also highlighted that over 340,000 have already received a premium from the scheme, and asked those with issues to seek “free and neutral” advice through France Renov’ advisors.
The minister’s comments have not reassured everybody, however.
“A crisis is underway," said Nicolas Moulin, founder of PrimesEnergie.fr, a company that specialises in helping people gain eco-renovation subsidies.
“Incentives are being cut (editor’s note: such as the removal of wall insulation or boiler installation), Aid is too complicated, the level of Anah advisors is very poor,” he added.
The scheme currently “benefits the wealthiest households more. If confirmed, this trend goes against the objective that the government had set itself when launching [MaPrimeRenov’],” he concluded.