Timeshares and Holiday Clubs
This information applies to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
What are Timeshares and Holiday Clubs
Timeshares allow you the right to use a holiday accommodation for a set period of time each year. You are able to purchase accommodation that is part of a resort along with other timeshare accommodations and in most cases communal facilities such as Tennis, Gym and Golf etc. There are also companies which sell vacation / timeshare ownership in caravans and canal boats. There is in most cases a one-off lump sum and annual charges that will vary depending on the timeshare property you own at.
You have certain rights to protect you when buying a vacation / timeshare ownership. However, not all timeshare programs fall within the current laws that have been put in place to protect the consumer. A vacation / timeshare agreement will only protect you if the following applies: -
- Lasts for three years or more, and
- allows you to stay in a specific building or caravan for a set period to time each year, and
- was made in a European Economic Area (EEA) country (for countries in the EEA), and
- was made either with a company or with an individuals during the course of their business. Agreements made with individuals on a private basis are not covered.
If you are purchasing a timeshare and the agreement seems not to fall within the guidelines and categories above, you are probably not protected by timeshare laws. If in any doubt check with an authority, solicitor or lawyer, or Timeshare Resales company such as Visions of the World to be sure before signing any agreement to purchase. It is unclear whether timeshare laws cover timeshares for canal boats or not.
Becoming an owner of a Holiday Club allows the owner the right to discount holidays through their membership. The Holiday Club usually promises to allow the member an opportunity to book their holidays or vacation through their program over a certain amount of time. The member may choose availability at a certain resort or anywhere in the World. In most cases there will be an initial membership fee to become a member and then an annual subscription.
Holiday Clubs are not protected by the same laws as timeshare are, as you are not buying the right to use a specific property for a set period of the year. It is advised that you satisfy yourself to the legal requirements, through an independent source to confirm your rights and privileges.
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High pressure selling to buy Timeshares or Holiday Clubs
High-pressure Sales techniques can sometimes be found when attending a Sales presentation for Timeshares and Holiday Clubs to get you to sign an agreement. Some examples of these techniques are: -
- an invitation to a Sales presentation where you are put under pressure to sign up on the day before leaving. In some cases separating you from your partner so that you are unable to discuss the opportunity
- in some cases you will be taken to a location which is far from where you were, and there will be pressure on you to sign, and in some cases they will not provide you with a return trip unless you sign the contract
- some marketing strategies, discount specials and prizes, are sometimes only given if you sign the contract
- offering free travel or accommodation, in some cases this is not all what it seems. Sometimes these prizes are out of stock, or you find that the prize is not worth what you were led to believe, you may have to pay for flights and booking fees in order to claim your prize.
You may, or may not find yourself in this situation, however if you do following the advice below may safe you from making a decision that you may later regret.
- don't sign anything, however much you are pressured by the salesperson, unless you really are sure its what you want
- if you don't understand it, don't sign it
- if you want to leave the presentation, do so however uncomfortable you are made to feel
- always think your decision through, and if unsure take a few days to think about it
- check your rights of cancellation and make sure you have them in writing with your contract
- make sure that everything that has been promised in the presentation is in writing with your contract
- get advice from an independent source before signing the contract
High pressure selling is a criminal offence in England Wales and Scotland, you could report this to the following bodies, Consumer Direct on 0845 4040 0506. In Northern Ireland, you could report them to the Consumer line on 0845 600 6262.
If you would like more information regarding your right to cancel a timeshare or holiday club contract, see cancelling a timeshare agreement.
If you believe that you have been miss sold a timeshare or holiday club product, or had the product misrepresented to you, seek advice from someone like the Citizens Advice Bureau.
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Buying a timeshare or holiday club membership
If you are buying a timeshare that is covered by the timeshare laws (to check whether your timeshare is protected by timeshare laws, see heading What are Timeshares and Holiday Clubs), you must be provided with certain information in writing. This includes the following: -
- the name of the company or person selling the timeshare
- the timeshare development or resort name and address of the owner
- where the property is located
- the length of time that the ownership will last
- your legal rights and obligations in the country where the purchased timeshare is located
- a description of the property and its location
- if you have the right to join an exchange or resale program and if there is any costs involved
- the purchase price of the timeshare you have purchased including all additional fees, and an estimate of the charges for maintenance and repairs, and the management of the development
- the date and place where you signed the agreement
Again if you feel that you need further details regarding the written information that you are permitted to have when you buy a timeshare protected by timeshare laws, you should contact an independent consultant, for example, the Citizens Advice Bureau. To obtain you're nearest Citizens Advice Bureau, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB
If the timeshare you buy does not come within the timeshare laws, or if you have purchased a membership to a holiday club, you will not be entitled to the same rights and privileges under the timeshare laws.
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Cancelling a timeshare agreement or contract
To see whether you are able to cancel a timeshare agreement or contract after signing, will ultimately depend on whether the timeshare purchase is covered within the timeshare laws. As a guideline to whether your timeshare purchase is covered within the timeshare laws, please read information headed what are Timeshares and Holiday Clubs.
For Timeshares covered by the timeshare laws
If you have entered into an agreement to buy a timeshare that is covered within the timeshare laws, you will be entitled to a cooling-off period so that you can cancel within the guidelines of the agreement, with no financial penalty. The period of time will be 14 days if:
- you have signed the agreement to purchase the timeshare in the UK; or
- the location of the timeshare resort accommodation is in the UK; or
- you are a resident typically in the UK and the timeshare accommodation purchased is in an EEA country.
If you believe that you were not supplied with the full written information that you should have received when you signed your purchase agreement (see information given headed Buying a timeshare or Holiday Club membership), you maybe able to extend the cancellation period or void the agreement due to the absence of said information.
When purchasing a timeshare in the UK and EEA, the sellers must inform you about the cooling-off period before you sign the agreement or contract. If they do not, the cooling-off period will be extended. The law states that the seller may not, during the period of cancellation, take any money what so ever, until the cooling-off period has expired.
In some cases the agreement or contract may allow the purchaser to cancel the purchase after the cooling-off period, if stated clearing within the terms.
If you have been offered credit or finance to fund the purchase, the credit or finance will automatically be cancelled when you cancel the contract for the purchase of the timeshare using the cancellation notice provided by the seller.
If you have entered into an agreement which is not covered by timeshare laws, and you have not been afforded a cooling-off period, and have used your credit card to purchase the timeshare, you maybe able to get them to agree to refund you the money, but only if they have signed up to a voluntary code of practice. In this case, it is imperative that you write to both the timeshare seller and the credit company notifying them of your intent to cancel the agreement, within a period of 10 days from signing the timeshare agreement. You can check whether your credit card company offers this type of protection.
The Rules regarding cancelling a timeshare agreement can be very complex. If you wish to cancel a timeshare agreement or contract, we would advise you to seek professional advice from a reputable Timeshare Resales company like Visions of the World, or an independent solicitor of your own choice.
Timeshares that are not protected by timeshare laws, and memberships of holiday clubs
If you believe that you have bought a membership to a holiday club, or have purchased a timeshare through an agreement that does not fall within the timeshare laws, you may not be entitled to a cooling-off period within which you can cancel the contract or agreement. However, in some cases you may still be able to cancel the contract or agreement, if it is stated in writing within the terms and conditions.
In some cases there are special circumstances whereby you maybe able to cancel a holiday club membership or timeshare agreement or contract that does not come within the guidelines of the timeshare laws. If you believe that your contract does not come within the timeshare laws you should seek an experienced advisor to talk to regarding cancelling the agreement, for example, the Citizens Advice Bureau or a trusted Timeshare Resales Company like Visions of the World.
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Selling a timeshare or holiday club
In some cases timeshares can be difficult to sell on the resale market and the price may often be lower than the price you were contracted for when you purchased it. Timeshare Resale Companies maybe able to help. You should think carefully when looking to sell your timeshare or vacation ownership, and ask several reputable timeshare resale organisations how much your ownership is worth to get some idea of the resale value.
Ask the resale company to provide you with their terms and conditions and check them thoroughly before signing the agreement, so that you are comfortable with their procedures. Some resale organisations will not deal with all forms of shared ownership, for example, there are certain companies that will not deal with points club or escritura timeshares. Some timeshare resale companies may ask you for an up front fee, if they do be clear on the reasons and the service that you are paying for. If a resale company or organisation is a member of a trade body or association this may give you extra protection through the associations code or conduct, and member rules and regulations.
If you receive an unsolicited phone call or communication from a timeshare organisation saying they have a buyer waiting to purchase your timeshare resale be wary. These companies usually require a huge upfront fee before the sale is concluded. After you have paid the fee, the organisation may disappear, the sale may fall through, or the sale price maybe much lower than promised, or just cover the fee you have already paid. These type of companies are not members of any recognised governing bodies and do not trade within the European Timeshare Directive. When you have a genuine offer from a recommended timeshare resales company, you should consider it thoroughly as offers maybe hard to acquire.
If you are a timeshare owner already, you maybe approached by a company or organisation that may try to persuade you to purchase a better one or a different program, on the understanding that they will sell your existing ownership. If entering into an agreement of this nature you should be certain that the ownership you currently own has definitely been sold, and that you do not end up with a second timeshare.
If you have a timeshare or holiday club that you wish to sell, you should contact an experienced Timeshare Resales company like Visions of the World for our expert advice. You could also contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for details.
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Exchanging a Timeshare
If you own a timeshare and you wish to take a vacation or holiday elsewhere in the World, you should use an exchange organisation such as Resort Condominiums International (RCI) or Interval International (II). In most cases exchange companies will charge an annual membership fee and an additional fee whenever you make an exchange.
For further information regarding exchanging through an exchange network, you should contact either Resort Condominiums International (RCI) or Interval International (II) direct, either by telephone or via email.
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Problems with timeshares and holiday clubs
It will depend on the terms and conditions of the agreement and the law that applies, to the options that you have to resolve any problems; you may have with your purchase of a timeshare or holiday club agreement. The law that applies to your agreement could be: -
- the law in the country where the agreement was signed
- the law in the country where the timeshare company is based
- the law of a third country which the agreement says applies to it.
You should seek advice from a specialist solicitor to decide which law applies to the contract that you have signed.
If you need further information on a problem with a timeshare agreement you may have signed, and how you may go about resolving it, see the information provided under the heading Organisations that can help with timeshares or holiday clubs. You could also consult an experienced timeshare resales company like Visions of the World or the Citizens Advice Bureau.
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Organisations that can help with timeshares or holiday clubs
The Timeshare Association (TATOC) is based in the United Kingdom and gives advice and help to owners of timeshares that maybe having some difficulties or problems, and helps them where possible resolve them. TATOC also helps owners committees exchange information and supports them with any issues they may have with their clubs. Their contact information is: -
84-86 Princess Street
Tel: 0845 230 2430
UK European Consumer Centre
There are many useful tips and information about timeshares, holiday clubs and timeshare resales on the website of the UK European Consumer Centre at: www.ukecc.net
Resort Development Organisation (RDO) formerly the OTE
The Resort Development Organisation is the only recognised European trade association for timeshare in Europe. The RDO has information on their website regarding procedures for buying timeshare, and useful tips on selling timeshare and companies that they recommend. The website also explains current laws in the United Kingdom and Europe.
Resort Development Organisation (RDO)
Cours St Michel 100/3
Tel (Consumers): +32 (0) 2533 3069
Fax: +32 (0) 2533 3061
The Office of Fair Trading
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is always eager to hear information regarding any problems you may have experienced with the purchase or sale of a timeshare or holiday club based in Europe. The OFT collects evidence, which it maybe able to use against the trader if based in Europe, to stop them breaking the law in future. However, the OFT can only act when it is in the interests of the British consumer. The OFT cannot get involved in individual cases or help you to resolve your problem.
Office of Fair Trading
2-6 Salisbury Square
Tel: 0845 722 4499
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Countries in the European Economic Area
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