In today’s current economic climate with many homeowners losing their home to foreclosure, short sale or simply “walking away” they are finding that they are burdened by their timeshare vacation rental with their ever increasing assessments.
Some unscrupulous timeshare companies are refusing to take back their timeshare and are blocking the sale or transfer of an unwanted timeshare to third parties making timeshare not an investment but a financial liability for the life of the timeshare owner.
Because the travel and tourism is one of the most important industries in the state of California account for about 100 billion dollars annually, the legislature has enacted consumer protection statutes that are designed to protect consumers from fraudulent and deceptive timeshare tactics.
Known as the Vacation Ownership and Time- share Act of 2004, this consumer protection statute that may be utilized by a timeshare owner to regulates disclosures and representations made by timeshare salesman as well as the content found in timeshare offering brochures. In addition, it regulates the conduct of timeshare presentation as well as the availability of timeshare to owners who are often times required to compete for timeshare use with rental of their timeshare to the general public.
The Act is quite extensive in its prohibitions of representations and conduct in connection with a timeshare presentation. Some of the more frequent violations of the Act, which can be found in California Business and Professions Code 11245, are the following:
(1) Make any material misrepresentation that is false or misleading in connection with any advertisement or promotion of a time-share plan.
(2) Make a prediction of any increases in the resale price or resale value of the time-share interest.
(3) Materially misrepresent the size, nature, extent, qualities, or characteristics of the offered time-share plan.
(4) Materially misrepresent the conditions under which a purchaser may exchange the right to use accommodations in one location for the right to use accommodations in another location.
(5) Materially misrepresent the current or future availability of a resale or rental program offered by or on behalf of the developer.
(6) Materially misrepresent the nature or extent of any incidentalbenefit.
(7) Fail to deliver any item offered in connection with a promotion to a prospective purchaser upon the conclusion of the sales presentation,
(8) State that the purchase of a time-share interest constitutes a financial investment.
(9) Fail to clearly and conspicuously disclose, prior to the execution of any purchase contract, the annual maintenance and association dues or any separately billed taxes, when applicable.
(10) Fail to clearly disclose in writing any automatic charging or billing procedure.
In addition to the foregoing, the Act provides a formula which restricts the rental of timeshare units to the general public and requires a one – to – one purchaser to accommodation ratio to ensure that timeshare owners can indeed have access to the timeshare that they purchased. ( California Business & Professions Code 11245 (b), 11250 )
Violators of the Vacation Ownership and Time – share Act can be sued by owners for damages or for injunctive or declaratory relief. Moreover, the Act does not exclude other remedies provided by law, including action under California’s Unfair Competition Law.
So if I have a timeshare that you are no longer able to afford or simply want to sell it what can you do?
Call your time – share company and see if they are willing to take back their timeshare. If they are not and its seems like you will be stuck with the timeshare and its obligations to pay maintenance fees for life, you should consult with a lawyer familiar with these laws.
Remember, you do not have to be saddled with timeshare fees forever.
Author, Mitchell Reed Sussman, has been a real estate attorney and broker licensed in the state of California for the past thirty years. His firm specializes in real estate, foreclosure and bankruptcy litigation.