When the weather in the UK is especially gloomy, it is only natural to dream of owning your own little slice of paradise that you can escape to when you want to remember what the sun looks like. Though for a lot of us this is just a pipedream, many people have been targeted by timeshare sales people offering them just this.
In the 1960s particularly families and retirees were targeted and offered timeshares that were marketed as a cost-effective way of owning a holiday home and the market was soon booming. Today it is estimated that 22 million households own timeshares worldwide after being drawn in by the claims.
But sadly, these aggressively sold contracts turned out to be too good to be true for many people, and what was sold as a dream became a financial burden that they are locked into for life. People soon realised that they could book a week or two in the sun without buying a timeshare and that beyond that there were no real perks to the deal.
With maintenance fees being hiked at the whim of developers and the fact that you still have to pay for your flights and transport to get there, your annual holiday can actually work out pretty expensive after a while. So it’s no surprise that so many people are now trying to get out of their contracts.
But the law around timeshares is somewhat murky, and people are finding that as keen as developers were to sign them up quickly, they’re far less keen to release people from their contracts.
So what are your options? We’ve put together this guide to help you understand what your options are for exiting your timeshare legally.
Make use of the cooling off period
Most countries have now introduced legislation that requires timeshare agreements to legally require a cooling off period in which you can cancel without any repercussions. You don’t even need to give a reason!
In the EU this is 14 days and sellers are banned from taking payment during this time. In America, most states have their own legislation and the cooling off period will vary in length. Be sure to cancel in writing during this time if you do want to.
Sell it on
There are a number of resale companies who do the hard work for you by working to sell your timeshare on your behalf, which can be an option for having yours taken off your hands. Unfortunately, the resale market is oversaturated, with people all trying to shift their timeshares but far fewer willing to buy, so you’ll almost definitely have to settle for far less money than you paid for it.
What was sold as a great investment is actually far from it, as you won’t be able to make a profit by selling it on. Some people even resort to giving theirs away for free as they just want to be free from the extortionate maintenance fees!
You should also be aware that there are plenty of scammers out there who are preying on those desperate to get rid of their timeshares, and they have even been known to cold call so it is important to be vigilant if you own a timeshare. This post is helpful when it comes to identifying scam companies.
Your other options
Selling or donating your timeshare is probably your best bet for ridding yourself of it, as the other options are to go down the legal route, or to speak to the developer and see whether they would agree to release you from your contract and take back the timeshare.
Typically developers are only willing to take back timeshares from certain people, occasionally the over 75s or those who are unable to travel, and legal proceedings tend to wind up being expensive and stressful.
You will need to prove to a court that your timeshare was mis-sold, or that the company used fraudulent tactics or is in breach of contract. Proving that you are unable to pay the fees may be possible too, but it is advised that you seek advice from a lawyer or a consumer group before going down the legal route to see what your chances of success are.