Joining a Timeshare programme, the right to spend several seasons. For several years, in one or more properties, may mean you end up in a mess unless you are well aware of your rights.
Timeshare may involve heavy long-term or even permanent financial commitments. In addition, several expenses may be incurred including maintenance, taxes and insurance.
The most recent EU regulations protect the citizen against unscrupulous traders when it comes to signing multi-ownership contracts. These regulations apply to contracts signed after 23 February 2011 (or a later date in some EU countries).
The regulations also protect you if you sign:
- Resale contracts (you pay a professional who helps you to sell or buy your Timeshare).
- Exchange contracts (you pay to join a regime which offers you accommodation or other services and allows other people to make temporary use of these services or accommodation).
In addition, your rights apply to different types of Timeshare, including:
- Cruise ships.
- River boats.
Before deciding, find out about your rights:
- You must find out all of the terms of agreement before signing. You should be given them in writing and in your language (if this is an official EU language).
- You have a withdrawal period of 14 calendar days in which you may withdraw from the contract without any explication. If you are not given the standardised withdrawal form required under the EU regulation, this period is extended to 1 year and 14 calendar days.
- The withdrawal period is extended to 3 months and 14 calendar days if you are not given the full information about the product you are buying.
- The seller may never ask for an advance or deposit during the withdrawal period.
- Membership to a holiday club must be paid in equal annual instalments.
- You are also entitled to terminate the contract with the holiday club, without penalty, after the second instalment. As soon as you receive the request for the next payment, you have 14 calendar days to give notice of the termination to the trader.
- If you have also signed an exchange contract, this is automatically terminated, at no extra cost to you, if you withdraw from the Timeshare contract.
- If you turn to a professional to help you sell your Timeshare or your membership of a holiday club through a resale contract, they cannot charge you anything until the sale has been completed or until the contract has been otherwise terminated.
If you have a Timeshare contract or a long-term holiday contract, these regulations will protect you even if the seller tells you that they are not applicable.
- Misleading and illegal sales techniques, such as the "scratch card" trick: you are told you have won a prize and you have to go and collect it at a Timeshare sales act in which you are pressured to sign a contract.
- Suspicious Timeshare resale offers, especially if you are persuaded to buy another property with the promise of selling the existing property: in these cases, you may end up with two Timeshares that you do not want.
- Suspicious offers from someone who claims to be a lawyer and who, for a fee, can represent you in the conflicts with the seller in the courts of another EU country.
- Suspicious offers from someone who claims to be able to "recover" your payments to the seller of the Timeshare and changes you a fee to do so.
- The seller of the Timeshare may not unduly limit your right to sell, lease or exchange on you account your rights to Timeshare, restrict your access to services or require you to pay unsubstantiated maintenance costs. If to do so, it is based on the general conditions of the contract, it may be that these conditions breach the standards for abusive contractual clauses and you are not obliged to comply with them.
- Weigh up the long-term or indefinite consequences of committing yourself to a Timeshare regime. Think carefully about whether you will still be able or want to continue in ten or twenty years time. And about your children, who will one day inherit it and be obliged to carry on paying the maintenance costs. Will they want it for anything?.
Directive 2008/122/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 January 2009 on the protection of consumers in respect of certain aspects of timeshare, long-term holiday product, resale and exchange contracts.
Spanish legislation. Royal Decrees
Ley 4/2012, de 6 de julio, de contratos de aprovechamiento por turno de bienes de uso turístico, de adquisición de productos vacacionales de larga duración, de reventa y de intercambio y normas tributarias.
Real Decreto Legislativo 1/2007, de 16 de noviembre, por el que se aprueba el texto refundido de la Ley General para la Defensa de los Consumidores y Usuarios y otras leyes complementarias.