As many people know, timeshare law can be extremely complicated. There have been laws overruled in recent years that are in favour of the owners of timeshare. People who have fallen victim to the unscrupulous practices of timeshare companies have now been given some power to fight back. Here at Timeshare Advice we want you to better understand and identify what your legal standing may be. Although we strongly advise seeking help from an expert in timeshare law, we feel that it is helpful for you to be informed on the possible unlawful clauses that may be in your timeshare contract.
More and more timeshare owners are taking their timeshare resorts to court due to being sold an unlawful product. In many cases the courts are ruling against the timeshare companies and finding the timeshare agreements are unlawful, deeming the contract null and void.
The four most common clauses are:-
A perpetuity clause
A cooling off period
Floating weeks or flextime
Although timeshare contracts are very complex, these four clauses are easily identified and we have detailed them below to give you a better understanding to help acknowledge if you have been mis-sold your timeshare.
Clear language is very important in a timeshare contract but unfortunately it is less clear-cut than some of the other clauses.
The language used in a timeshare contract cannot intentionally be used to confuse the buyer. There have been many cases where timeshare companies have encouraged customers to sign the contract without them questioning the content. These companies use the fact that customers have very little knowledge on timeshare law and try to keep them excited about the deal they have been promised. Obviously, as with many contracts out there, timeshare contracts will included complicated legal language but it is unlawful to specifically have a contract drawn up with the purpose of misleading people.
As of 1998, contracts that include a perpetuity clause have been deemed illegal and will be null and void. A timeshare contract can no longer exceed a period of 50 years.
Many timeshare contracts were sold on the basis that it would be an investment for yours and your families future. The clever sales tactics used by the timeshare representatives meant that paying yearly maintenance fees for the rest of your life seemed quite minor in the grand scale of things. In some circumstances a contract containing a perpetuity clause could mean that the burden of your timeshare is passed onto your family after death, whether they want it or not. If you signed your timeshare agreement after 1998 and it includes a perpetuity clause it could mean that you have an illegal contract.
The cooling off period
The laws state that no monies should be handed over during the cooling off period.
The cooling off period is a 14 day period, longer if needed, where the client can take their time to read and understand their contract and then decide if they are still happy to go along with the deal that was proposed to them. It may be that you signed the contract without knowing much about the law or you were in an uncomfortable situation where you felt too much pressure from the sales representative implying that the deal was to good to miss. The law protects people who, after having thought about things clearly, want to back out of the timeshare deal.
It is illegal for timeshare companies to take any money from you during the cooling off period, if they do it is a breach of the law. It has also been found that timeshare companies have made it difficult for people to cancel during this time, which again is unlawful.
Floating weeks or flextime is when you have the freedom to select a week of your choosing each year. Many people’s timeshare agreements were ‘upgraded’ to floating weeks, after originally purchasing a specific week. Where were others bought with that intention.
Timeshare companies convinced many people that this was an excellent opportunity as your holidays would be more flexible. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case for many owners as they found they couldn’t get the weeks or units they wanted and often missed out on holidays, still having to pay their yearly maintenance fees regardless.
The law has now also, along with the other clauses mentioned, deemed contracts with this provision illegal.
We advise all timeshare owners to make sure they read through their contracts thoroughly, and if you find that they contain any of the clauses mentioned it may be that timeshare law dictates that compensation is payable from the timeshare company.
The clauses mentioned above are only the most common unlawful practices. You really should contact a timeshare expert and have them examine your contract to advise you on what to do next. Contact Timeshare Advice on 0800 0124683 or www.timeshare-advice.co.uk today for further information.
See our recent post regarding timeshare & divorce.