Area of Law:
Everything You Need to Know Before Regretting That Timeshare Property
Before you sign your life away to one property in one part of the country, learn all you can about the laws behind timeshare properties.
Whether you’re looking to cancel your timeshare contract or browsing the best vacation deals regarding property investment, you should know the laws--and the legal relief--that will apply before you pledge the next twenty years and more than $30,000 into a “shared property” that you don't own outright.
First, the “deal” that most people regret
Timeshare property owners count on financial hardship and an overwhelmed consumer to not complain or seek legal counsel regarding their contract. Large hospitality businesses and corporations like the Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, and Disney have become trusted names in the 9 billion dollar industry. Most vacationers don’t expect to be paying taxes, special assessments, utilities, and underreported fees during the parts of the year that they’re not using their timeshare, but many middle-class citizens go along and pay all the while.
Most timeshares will have an upfront cost and then yearly maintenance fees up to $1,000, which means that you’ll be paying for 1/52 of a property and responsible for paying for fees and special utilities that shouldn’t cost what they’ll include in the price. Renting out your share or re-selling your claim to partial property is difficult, and consumers will need timeshare remediators or legal counsel to help them end a deal that was made after a promising weekend at an attractive resort or hotel-owned property. According to the contract you sign, you are never free from timeshare financial risk if you’re unable to make your vacation week, even though many resorts have switched to “points” instead of weeks.
Negligence will cost you
Just like credit card, house, car, and college debt, the assets and liabilities of a timeshare property will follow you if you walk away or neglect your responsibilities as a consumer. Creditors will hound you and your credit rating will suffer, which could cost you concerning real and actual property investment. There are strict limits on the time--whether it’s weeks or “points”-- during which you can occupy your share. A hospitality study by EY (Ernst & Young) claims 56 percent of “reclaimed” timeshares that go back to the developer stem from foreclosure--mostly from consumers who couldn’t keep up with the lawful requirement of their end of the contract.
The United States Uniform Commercial Code, section 2106(3) and 2106(4) outline what is accepted as a breach of contract--for example services not provide, unavailability of certain amenities and featured attractions, increase of fees, and negligence of promised incentives. Consumers can always seek help in the remedy for a breach in contract or a refund, but this is a lengthy process and most vacationers do not go through with it, although they are well within their rights to do so.
There’s plenty of help from professionals in the know
There are several consumer advocate agencies for those who need advice on canceling their contract with a timeshare company or planning a timeshare exit strategy. Some professionals offer free consultation to get rid of a timeshare contract. If a layman were to read the list of their state’s timeshare laws, then they’d find that there is more to their contract, but consumer protection laws are always on their side.