US Timeshare Advice

ARDA-ROC http://www.arda-roc.org/roc/home.aspx is a resource for important information about the timeshare and vacation ownership industry in the US including:Consumer Advisories 
Legislative Updates Buying and Selling a Timeshare On the Secondary MarketHow to Protect Yourself from Misleading Resale, Transfer, and Marketing Scams.



Unilateral terminations/Indemnity certificates

There has been a practice being carried out by some businesses taking fees in exchange for ‘claims & relinquishment services’ that they are achieving termination of contracts through what are being termed as ‘unilateral terminations’. We do not believe these are established in law and are in fact now the subject of court challenges and investigation by the authorities for misleading practices.This also applies to the actual validity of what are claimed to be indemnities.We are therefore cautioning consumers that it is likely that any such ‘unilateral terminations’ may not be valid and their contracts are likely to still be enforceable i.e. contracts will have not been legally terminated.
In view of this we suggest you contact your timeshare company to enquire as to the current legal status of your timeshare.

Told not to contact Timeshare company

No business should deny consumers the right to make further checks themselves. Some rogue businesses use such clauses so that consumers do not discover that they can achieve a better resolution themselves. Another motive is to try and avoid negative information being given about them. If they include this in their terms and conditions it would almost certainly be a breach of the Unfair Contract Terms regulations and possibly other Consumer Protection Regulations.

How much is my timeshare worth?

In regard to the value of your timeshare/points, I’m afraid we are unable to advise on this aspect, as it really does vary depending on many factors including demand. You could check on resale sites for similar sales, but this may not reflect the actual going price as these listings will be for unsold items.

Resale

Achieving a resale of a timeshare can be difficult. There are a number of factors to consider, including of course, how in demand a particular timeshare may be. 

Our first recommendation is to contact the timeshare company / resort and ascertain whether they are providing any options, such as a buy-back or a recommended resale resource.

Although we are unable to recommend a specific company you could consider using a resale firm who is a member of the RDO which means they are governed by a certain code of conduct. http://rdo.org/timeshare-resale/

We would advise that when employing the services of any new company it is important to clarify exactly what services are being offered and to ensure that they are honest and legally compliant. It is also important not to be pressurised into signing documents or making payments until you are completely sure of this. 

There are many companies that do not offer the same levels of protection as RDO members and you should be wary if –

-A company cold calls you and claims that your telephone number was provided by your resort, an exchange company, RDO or even came from a European listing of timeshare owners. This will not be the case – your contact details are protected by law
-The company claims to have a buyer lined up
-The company promises to pay an unusually high price for your timeshare
-You are obliged to pay an upfront fee for legal, registration or administrative purposes
-You are pressured into signing up for a holiday club or discount travel club in return for your timeshare. Contrary to their promises, you may find that the resale company has not taken ownership of your timeshare and you will continue to be liable for the maintenance fee
-A firm of solicitors calls you out of the blue and asks for an upfront payment to help you obtain a refund of a sum of money you paid to a resale company which has failed to deliver the services it promised.

The value of your timeshare –
In regard to the value of your timeshare/points, I’m afraid we are unable to advise on this aspect, as it really does vary depending on many factors including demand. You could check on resale sites for similar sales, but this may not reflect the actual going price as these listings will be for unsold items.

Of course it will be important to consider how long you want to pay to have the timeshare listed/for sale as during this time you will likely be paying maintenance fees. Some consumers do make the decision it is better to relinquish to cease maintenance fees if a sale is not forthcoming.

If you do consider relinquishment rather than resale in the future we would always advise you to contact your timeshare company first to see what options might be available to you (some have updated their exit policies in recent times). We suggest you include any circumstances that affect your ability to use your timeshare, such as age, health issues or financial hardship.
We have found in our experience that these issues can be more quickly resolved and at a lower cost than that charged by so called claim/release firms or paralegals. This also helps to avoid any potential exploitation by third parties.

Paying fees to release monies

In our experience we have found all reports of purported law firms that are asking for fees to release monies for a claim to be entirely fraudulent. 
We advise against paying any monies under these circumstances.
We advise to report the matter to Action Fraud as a matter of urgency. Action Fraud online https://www.actionfraud. police.uk/report_fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040.

No win – no fee

In our experience, many no win, no fee promises are quickly reneged on, with businesses making such initial offers then seeking various payments, which are often then called ‘administration’ charges. 
The best way to deal with this is to ask them to provide their offer in writing, including guaranteeing that no fees will be charged if there is not a successful outcome – and to request the following – 1. Full written terms & conditions.2. Details as to the legal entity you will be dealing with, including identifying the owners and controllers of the business.3. A detailed description of the precise legal process that would take place, including the legal basis for the claim, the names of the lawyers who would act on your behalf, the court the claim would be filed in, an estimate of timescales and the detailing of any financial risks involved.
If you decide to pursue the above, we would be happy to help evaluate any responses you receive back.

Limitation Act 1980

Under the Limitation Act 1980 a creditor has six years to chase most unsecured unpaid debts, or twelve years for some mortgage shortfalls. This ‘limitation period’ starts from the time of your last payment or acknowledgement of the debt, not the total length of time you’ve been making payments.

Lawyer/Solicitor Information

While we are unable to specifically recommend any legal firm we do understand that often the only option in order to pursue further is to consult a solicitor/lawyer. Make certain that they are fully qualified (In the UK they should be registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, SRA) and have experience in the timeshare sector.
If you do decide to go ahead, please keep us informed of your experience so that we may continuously evaluate the service being provided to consumers.
In all cases it is important to clarify exactly what services are being offered, what methods might be used and to ensure that they are honest and legally compliant, we would recommend that you ask any legal representative to put in writing the following:

  • Their terms & conditions – including the fees they will charge both at the outset and if any further fees may become due at any stage.
  • Whether there is any potential liability for you if they should lose the case.
  • The specific laws that they intend to cite in order to bring your case.
  • The court they would file the claim with and the expected timescales involved.

If any firm does not provide this information we do not believe they are being transparent enough and would advise not to proceed.
If you have further concerns/wish to be more thorough we have also provided a legal services checklist document, which has a more comprehensive set of questions. If you decide to use this and they do provide a response then we will be pleased to help evaluate their answers.

Timeshare Laws review 2016

Authorities in the EU led by the UK conducted a review of current timeshare laws (from 2012, reviewed early 2016) and concluded there was no reason to make any amendments. However there has been increasing pressure from a consumer ethics viewpoint for timeshare companies to allow consumers to exit. The RDO in response to this created a code of conduct for it’s members to abide by allowing free exit under certain circumstances.

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