Timeshare and Holiday Ownership
Many people feel trapped by a timeshare contract or a holiday club membership and feel that there is no way out. You may be one of those people.
• Do you have concerns about the agreement you have entered into with the timeshare company?
• Have promises that were made to you at the time you purchased your timeshare not been honoured?
• Are you struggling with ever rising maintenance fees?
• Do you no longer benefit from your timeshare?
• Have issues arisen since you first entered the agreement that have led to you wanting to relinquish your timeshare?
You are not on your own.
Many owners find themselves in this position every day and are unsure what to do about it or who to turn to for help. Some have been unsuccessfully attempting to be released from their timeshare burden for a number of years and feel that it simply cannot be achieved.
THE TIMESHARE TRAP
There is often an element of desperation and fright particularly if you have had demand letters from the timeshare company directly or bailiff’s letters or debt collectors knocking at the door attempting to collect unpaid maintenance fees. This is a debt, which for many timeshares owners becomes a yearly fear, particularly, if it remains unpaid and is accruing interest.
If you have stopped paying your management fees and no action has been taken against you, don’t assume it won’t be . In our experience most companies will wait until the debt is high enough to take action, in fact we have seen companies waiting up to 5 years before action is taken, as the debt has then built up to a level worth collecting.
Some timeshare contracts are in perpetuity, meaning there is no end date and they may pass on to your family or can force your estate into probate. There have been cases where timeshare companies have forced this to happen.
Unfortunately, scams are not uncommon in the Timeshare industry. There are a lot of organisations out there that appear to be attempting to profit from individuals desperate to escape timeshare contracts.
Many companies advertising to help people out of their timeshare contracts or offering advice are in fact timeshare companies in their own right or are funded themselves by the timeshare companies. They force you to buy a new product in order to get out of your existing contract and often still don’t get you out.
Most scams originate from a cold call.
We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and adhere to strict compliance guidelines. We will never cold call you and will not accept clients from any companies that have undertaken cold calling.
You may have received a call from a company promising to buy your timeshare or secure your release, often this can lead to further disappointment and cost when it doesn’t happen. It can also make your situation more complicated adding to your despair and frustration.
This is why securing trusted advice from an early stage is so important. You should always be thorough with anyone you choose to accept help from. If you are simply looking to sell your timeshare always deal with a credible and reputable company that you know follow the law.
If you want to legally get out of your timeshare, make sure you use a registered solicitor’s firm like TimeshareSolicitors4U. All solicitors have to be Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and you can check if a firm is officially registered at www.lawsociety.org.uk
TIMESHARE AT A GLANCE
There are a number of variations of timeshare, however most timeshare fits into two basic categories; weeks or points clubs. Ownership of Timeshare was designed to allow you to purchase holiday time in properties for the period that you as the user require each year. Ownership, as such can be tenuous as most modern timeshares are not title deeded and are therefore not owned at all but instead are a right to use for the term of the contract. This time usage could be associated with holiday resorts, individual properties, caravans, static vans, boats and yachts and each comes with different usage terms and conditions.
Weeks Clubs are generally referred to as old style timeshare, however this really isn’t the case, as new Fractional Ownerships often mirror Weeks Clubs. In a Weeks Club you would generally buy a number of weeks (either fixed or floating) and use either the same apartment or pool of apartments for the duration of your ownership.
Fixed Week Club
You would buy a specific week in a specific apartment, at a specific resort and you would be entitled to use that week of holiday, every year for the duration of the contract.
Floating Weeks Club
Works on a seasonal basis where you would buy an apartment size for a period of weeks in a resort for a specific season (high-season, mid-season or low-season) and would then have access to a pool of apartments on a booking basis.
Points Clubs tend to be more flexible than Week’s Clubs and tend to offer the ability to utilise multiple properties in multiple locations. You own a number of points which buy you holiday time each year in the club locations. You have the ability to book any apartment size; location or season based on availability and pay the appropriate points to book. Larger apartments in nicer resorts in higher season will cost more points.
REGULATIONS CONCERNING TIMESHARE AGREEMENTS
Timeshares in Europe are covered by the European Timeshare Act and the Timeshare Directive (1994). These laws were established to protect consumers from unfair practices by developers. There have been numerous amendments to both the Directive and Act with significant improvements and protection with each amendment. Although the European Commission has tried to control poor practices, there still appear to be numerous cases where the rules are not being followed.
Timeshare Law is an extremely complex and specialised area, dealing with not just multiple governing laws but also different law areas such as property contract and finance. Different country’s legislation may also need to be assessed as the property could be owned in one country, trusted in another and managed from another.
Our specialist solicitors have a wealth of knowledge in these areas and can assist you with any issues you may have with your club.
WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS
Our clients ask what their real options are with regards to getting rid of their timeshares. The real answer is, they are limited.
1) RELINQUISH IT – Although some companies will allow people to hand their timeshare back, this is not common. Most people who write to their timeshare company requesting this service are told they cannot do this and are advised to try to sell it themselves. Most resort companies do not offer an in house resale service so you are really on your own with this.
2) SELL IT – This is an option that most people try. Although your timeshare does have a value to you, it may not have a value to anybody else. At any time there are thousands of timeshares up for sale and very few actually sell. People tend to buy timeshare while they are on holiday, just like you did. By advertising timeshares for sale on resale sites or public auction sites like eBay they usually quickly realise that this will not work.
3) LEGAL ACTION – Timeshare law is complex and often covers multiple jurisdictions. This in itself often puts people off taking this course of action. We specialise in the area of timeshare claims and have successfully assisted many people in relinquishing their timeshares and in some cases received compensation for the unfair and sometimes illegal actions of the companies.
4) DISPOSAL – Many companies offer this service however, buyer beware.
It is illegal to ask for money in advance to sell or dispose of your timeshare. Under the terms of the amended Timeshare Directive of 2008 which came in to UK Law in February 2011, a timeshare relinquishment or timeshare resale company cannot charge any upfront fee. We often deal with clients who have paid – sometimes multiple times – for disposal services and now not only own their original timeshare and still have the liability they started with, but have paid out thousands for holiday packages which their timeshares were supposed to be traded in against. This then complicates the legal process with multiple actions now being required. Don’t be too alarmed if you are in this position, our team have dealt with some of the most complex cases involving many different parties and can still help.
5) STOP PAYING MANAGEMENT FEES – This is a course of action we will not suggest. Most companies have a clause in their contract that they reserve the right to repossess, however, rarely act on this. In fact more often than not we hear of debt collection agencies harassing people. You have signed an agreement (regardless of how one sided) and are generally liable for management fees.
We are confident that we can help you with the best course of action, whether that is relinquishment or a claim.
Talk to us for a free, no obligation assessment of your circumstances.