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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

what are my legal rights with timeshare

What are my legal rights with timeshare?

How timeshares work.
With timeshare, you buy a share in a property abroad for a set period of time each year.

You usually pay a one-off lump sum for the number of weeks that you want to spend in your timeshare. You will find certain weeks, eg in school holidays, are more expensive than others.

For example, you may pay £10,000 to buy the first week in April in a one-bedroom apartment in Tenerife.

You will get the right to use each week you have bought for a set number of years, eg 20 years.

On top of the lump sum, you also have to pay:
maintenance charges every year for your timeshare all other travel costs, eg for flights and car hire.

If you can't take your holiday during the dates you've paid for, you may be able to 'bank' the time so you can use it later. There will be a fee to do this.

Buying a timeshare – your rights.
If you join a timeshare scheme in the European Economic Area (EEA) or sign the contract in the UK, you have the right to:cancel for any reason within 14 days of signing your contract – it's illegal for sellers to take a deposit from you within this time, get key information before you sign the contract, including a description of the property, the contract start date, price and charges like administration fees, get a copy of your contract – if you don't get a copy, the seller can't hold you to anything in the contract, get a cancellation form with your contract have the contract written in a European language of your choice.
The EEA includes all the countries in the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
If you sign the contract outside of the EEA, your rights will depend on:the law of the country where your timeshare is (see link below) the terms and conditions in your contract Buying overseas – your rights 

How to cancel your timeshare contract.
For contracts signed in the UK and for schemes in the EEA, write to the seller within the 14 days and say you wish to ‘withdraw’ from your contract.

If you arranged with the seller to borrow money to join the scheme, they must also cancel this credit agreement (loan).

If you signed your contract more than 14 days ago, you can't usually cancel unless the seller failed to give you:
key information before you signed the contract (also known as 'pre-contract information')
a cancellation form when you signed your contract.

If this happens, the time you can cancel extends up to:
three months and 14 days if you don't get a written copy of the key information
one year and 14 days if you don't get a cancellation form with your contract

As soon as you receive the missing information, the cancellation period reduces to 14 days.
New rules for traders in › ... › Archived regulation updates - 23 Feb 2011 – timeshare - a contract of more than one year's duration giving the consumer the right to use accommodation for one or more overnight stays ...

Sales presentations.
Some timeshare companies try to pressure you to sign a contract. They will often approach you when you are on holiday and offer you a gift if you attend a presentation.

Before you sign up to any offer:
ask to take the contract away with you – get legal advice on the sale
check flight and holiday prices to the same destination if you didn't have the timeshare
make sure everything that was promised to you at the presentation is confirmed in writing

If you think the timeshare company is bogus, you can report it to Action Fraud and the police.
Report a bogus timeshare company to Action Fraud  

Selling your timeshare.
If you own a timeshare and no longer want to use it, you can usually sell the remaining years.

The company that sold you the timeshare may agree to buy it back or you may get a better price from a 'timeshare resale company'.

The price you will get for the remaining years is usually much lower than the original price you paid.

There are also bogus resale companies that may contact you and claim they have found a buyer for your timeshare. They will ask you to pay an upfront payment to cover administration costs. Once you make the payment, the company will disappear.

If a resale company contacts you, don't pay any upfront fees and do some research on the company, eg by searching online for the company name.
Report a bogus timeshare company to:
Complaints about timeshares.
If you have a complaint about your timeshare, contact the seller first.

If you don't agree with their response, you can:
complain to a trade association if your timeshare company is a member (see links below)
contact Consumer Direct, the government funded consumer advice service
Disputes about goods and services – ways to resolve a complaint
Contact Consumer Direct
More useful links.
Foreign travel (travel and transport section)Consumer rights - an introduction
Buying a service - your consumer rights
How to find a reliable business

The Timeshare Act which was written into Legislation in 1992 - and in it's original form - it was a pretty useless piece of Law for two main reasons:

1. The Government had little or no understanding of the complexity of the Timeshare Industry;

2. They also underestimated just how clever the Marketing Minds behind the Industry actually were

The Act has been revised on several occasions to strengthen it and offer more protection for Timeshare Purchasers and Owners (1997 & 2005)

The most Dramatic change was made in 2005 when the Act prevented Timeshare Companies from re-possessing most forms of Timeshare on the basis of non-payment of Annual Maintenance/Management Fees

Much as this was logical and fair - after all - why should a Company be able to take back a Timeshare that the Owner had paid thousands of Pounds for when they owed only a few hundred Pounds in outstanding fees - and then sell it again to some other unsuspecting buyer?

Unfortunately in the process - this closed the last loophole for Owners that had had enough and just wanted out

All they had to do was to stop paying the fees and the Company would re-possess - sadly this is no longer the case

Nowadays - the Timeshare Companies have only one course of action open to them if an Owner does stop paying their maintenance Fees - to come after them Legally - and very often in an aggressive manner.
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