Timeshare law is an historically complicated practice. In recent years, we have seen laws passed in an attempt to hand some power back to the victims of the immoral practices of timeshare companies. However, knowing about timeshare law in the first place is something that’s usually just the domain of the professionals. Here at Timeshare.Lawyer, though, we like to ensure that you are as informed as possible about aspects of timeshare law that might apply to you.
What you need to know about timeshare law
Throughout European courts, not least in Spain, time and again cases are being ruled in favour of those trying to escape from, or at least receive compensation for, being sold timeshare agreements which can now be deemed unlawful.
Many of these court rulings have been based on one or more of four clauses commonly found in timeshare agreements. Despite the law’s complexity, these four clauses are easy to identify and will give you a much better understanding of your legal standing if you suspect you have been sold an unlawful timeshare.
If a timeshare agreement states that the contract exceeds the length of 50 years, it is often labelled as a perpetuity clause. As of 1998, such contracts have been labelled as unlawful.
Perpetuity clauses can often mean that people are paying annual fees for their entire lives; in some extreme circumstances, it could even mean that after death, the burden of the payments is passed on to the family.
Such behaviour from timeshare companies is now no longer acceptable. If you signed an agreement after 1998 which includes a perpetuity clause, you should pursue a legal case immediately.
Floating week / flex-time
Whilst most timeshare agreements entitle you to a specific, set week every year in which you have access to the property, floating weeks, otherwise known as Flex-Time, supposedly give you the freedom to select a week of your choosing every year.
The timeshare companies will use this promise of flexibility to justify a floating week clause but what they fail to reveal is the major headaches that such agreements can cause.
In practice, Flex-Time does not offer freedom. Instead, it results in a messy, unpredictable battle between owners of the same timeshare property. These conflicts often result in people not being able to access the property at all. It goes without saying that you will still be expected to pay your fees. In fact, as anyone who knows about timeshare law will tell you, such floating weeks are actually illegal now.
The cooling off period is an agreed amount of time, starting upon the signing of a contract, in which the signee is allowed to change their mind. A person may sign in a high-pressure environment, but on reflection, or upon finding out more about timeshare law, they decide that they’ve made a mistake. This law protects people who find themselves in this situation.
During this period, which must legally be at least 14 days, it is illegal for timeshare companies to take any money from you at all. They are supposed to be giving you the time and space to contemplate the agreement you have signed and to ensure that it’s in your best interests to continue with the agreement.
If, however, they do not honour this agreement and come pursuing any sort of money from you, they are doing so in breach of the law. As a result, it might be that the contract is deemed entirely null and void. Equally, if the timeshare company made it difficult for you to cancel during the cooling off period, for example by failing to furnish you with appropriate paperwork or dodging your attempts to contact them to change your mind, they are also breaking the law.
Clear and honest language
Finally, something a little less clear-cut the previous three points but still helpful to know about timeshare law, is the importance of clear and honest language.
Timeshare companies are not allowed to fill their contracts with language and discourse specifically designed to confuse the customer into submission. Their hope is most people, rather than questioning the terms, will be coerced into signing without question because what’s being said on the paper is too daunting to grasp, and that most people simply do not know about timeshare law.
There is always going to be certain elements of jargon in complicated legal documents, but that is different to intentionally bamboozling people. If a timeshare agreement is deemed by the courts to be misleading or dishonest, there is a good chance that timeshare law will dictate that compensation is in order.
These four points are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to timeshare law. It is very strongly recommended that, if you suspect you may have fallen victim to any of these unlawful practices, you get in touch with a good timeshare lawyer. Someone who is experienced in contract law and knows exactly what needs to be done to ensure you’re no longer at the mercy of timeshare companies.