Why timeshare laws came into force
Back in 1994, the world saw some groundbreaking changes in timeshare laws.
The laws were introduced in order to protect the public from falling victim to the immoral and damaging timeshare companies, many of whom sneak clauses into their contracts that haunt those who sign them for the rest of their lives.
The courts took a series of drastic measures in order instantly outlaw a number of the most damaging timeshare contract clauses; the ones which were causing the most damage, psychologically as well as financially, to the people who sign them.
Timeshare companies are so ruthless that, according to The Telegraph, ‘reports have surfaced of people in care homes being forced to pay for timeshares they could not use, as well as relatives of deceased owners being hounded for money.’
Timeshare laws about ‘In Perpetuity’ contracts
The first major change in timeshare law to mention is regarding the infamous perpetuity clause.
A perpetuity clause means that the contract has infinite length. Even after the signee dies, the debt of the contract might even be passed to their family.
In recognition of how unreasonable such a clause is, the Spanish courts ruled that, from 1999 onwards, no timeshare contract can lawfully last for more than 50 years.
Remarkably, or perhaps not, the passing of this law has not always deterred the timeshare companies from trying their luck, and perpetuity contracts have been found in contracts signed much later than 1999.
Timeshare laws about Floating Weeks
The Spanish Supreme Court has also found in favour for the plaintiffs in lawsuits based upon the concept of floating-week contracts.
Floating, or Flex-Time, timeshare clauses are sold to customers as a more flexible option to the usual fixed week contracts. However, those who have fallen victim to them in the past have reported that floating weeks become an impossible nightmare. Because the certainty of a fixed week is gone, there is a frantic rush to book your desired week far in advance. Even then, there is no guarantee that you will be able to book a spot at all.
The courts ruled that this was inefficient, immoral and deserving of a change to the law, stating that such lack of determination is no longer acceptable.
Timeshare Laws about Cooling-Off Periods
The cooling-off period starts from the moment a contract is signed and lasts for a predetermined length of time, and must legally be at least fourteen days.
The purpose of such a period is to allow the person who has signed the contract the time to step back and consider the agreement they have just entered. If, during that time, they decide that they have made a mistake, they are entitled to back out of the contract without consequence.
It was becoming obvious that timeshare companies were insisting that payments and fees be paid by the customers before the end of the cooling-off period. In cases such as these, even if someone decides against continuing with the contract, they have already given money to the timeshare provider.
The courts ruled that this behaviour was unlawful and that the customer should be left alone and given space during their cooling-off period. If they are forced to make payments during this time, the contract could very well be ruled null and void with the timeshare company ordered to refund all fees in full.
Don’t hesitate to act
The three laws mentioned above are only the tip of the iceberg.
Timeshare law is incredibly complex and intricate. If you are involved in a timeshare agreement that you think may be in violation to the law, it is recommended that you employ the help of a good timeshare lawyer. They will be able to examine your case, tell you whether or not you’re entitled to compensation and then take your case through the court process with you.