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Timeshares and Your Rights

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 17 Aug 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Consumer Rights Timeshare Trading

Like so many people up and down the country, you might well receive an invitation to a timeshare presentation offering a prize or a free holiday. If it happens to you and you decide to attend and buy a timeshare, you have a number of rights that the seller has to respect. As defined in law, when you buy a timeshare, you're buying the right to spend time, usually one or two weeks each year, in a particular property, for three years or more. The law doesn't apply to holiday packs and vacation clubs schemes, to timeshares under 36 months to floating vessels like narrow or canal boats.

What You Should Do

Be very wary of any kid of hard sell. Don't sign on the spot. Insist on time to think it over and get advice from others. Walk out if the situation seems pressured, and never sign anything you don't understand. If you're made any promises that aren't in the contract, insist on having them written down explicitly and plainly, with no room for ambiguity. The seller shouldn't ask for money from you at the time of signing.

Before you buy, ask yourself if the offer represents good value for money, consider what you'll also have to pay in maintenance costs, whether you have a say in how the timeshare operates and whether exchanges with other owners are possible (if so, where are they and when are they available). Understand too that the value of timeshares goes down, and that you might have difficulty re-selling yours, and that any money-back guarantees you're given could actually prove to be difficult to claim in practice.

You might consider contacting the Organisation for Timeshare in Europe, which can advise of reputable timeshare companies.

You're Rights

If you're buying a timeshare anywhere in the European Economic Area, you have these minimum rights:

  • A 10-day (14 calendar days under U.K. law) cooling-off period, which begins when you sign the timeshare contract. During that time you can cancel the contract for any reason at all without paying a penalty.
  • No seller can ask you for or accept money from a buyer during the cooling-off period.
  • If you've signed a credit agreement linked to the timeshare purchase, if you cancel the timeshare contract then that will also be cancelled.
  • You must be given a written contract and documentary information in your own language, and key information from the timeshare brochure must be included in the contract if the purchase goes ahead.
  • Your contract must include the names and addresses of the parties to the contract, an accurate description and completion date for the property, as well as the purchase price and other charges relating to the use of common facilities, as well as any taxes, fees and administrative charges.

Problems

If you have a problem with a timeshare company, contact Trading Standards (www.tradingstandards.gov.uk), which is responsible for enforcing timeshare law in the UK. The Office of Fair Trading (www.oft.gov.uk) will act where there's evidence of malpractice, and the Association of British Travel Agents (www.abta.com) runs an advice scheme and a conciliation service for disputes.

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