A customer brought her complaint to us after the business told her she couldn’t withdraw funds. We investigated to find out whether it was made clear that the fund was subject to a deferral period.

What happened

Several years after Bridey invested in a property fund, she decided to withdraw her money and invest elsewhere. She downloaded a withdrawal form from the website of the business concerned and followed the instructions for completing it and sent it off.

A week later, she received a letter telling her it was ‘not possible at present’ for her to withdraw her funds. The business explained that the day after she had downloaded the form it had imposed a deferral period of up to six months for all withdrawals from or surrenders out of the property fund.

Bridey rang the business to say she was concerned she couldn’t access her money immediately. The member of staff she spoke to said her request would be processed ‘as soon as cash is available in the fund’, but couldn’t tell her when that would be.

She wrote to the business to complain. She said that before downloading the withdrawal form, she’d taken care to read all the information on the business's website about withdrawals. She hadn’t seen any warning that she might have to wait up to six months before she got her money. She thought the business had behaved in a ‘misleading manner’ by not publishing a warning about the forthcoming deferral period.

Unhappy with the response she received, Bridey brought her complaint to us.

How we helped

The terms and conditions of the property fund allowed the business to apply a deferral period at its discretion. This was clearly stated in the information the business gave Bridey when she first invested in the fund.

The business provided evidence that it had applied the deferral period the day after Bridey downloaded the withdrawal form. They explained that they never made any advance announcement that a deferral period was coming into effect. Any such announcement might prompt a large number of investors to withdraw their money, to the detriment of the fund and its investors.

Putting things right

We accepted that the timing of this particular deferral period had been unfortunate for Bridey. However, the business had not acted improperly or in a ‘misleading manner’, so we didn’t uphold the complaint.