How Consumers Can Tell if a Timeshare Contract Was Legal

When someone hands you a timeshare contract to sign, there is a certain amount of trust that you have, because the contract in there in front of you in written form. Consumers trust that all that ‘fine print’ is legitimate because they would have legal recourse (a copy of the contract) to refer to, if problems occurred in the future.

Have you ever noticed how some contracts are very long, and detailed?  For legitimate legal purposes, a contract should outline all responsibilities that the buyer has after signing.  In our experience, the combination of a high-pressure and often exhausting timeshare sales presentation, combined with a lengthy contract, is a deliberate tactic by disreputable timeshare companies.  The plain truth is that they are counting on you to trust them, without going over every aspect of the contract and liability, line by line.

It is often after problems have occurred with the relationship between the consumer and the timeshare company, that the critical review of the contract happens.  By then however, the legal liability that the consumer has is binding.  It’s a fact that the timeshare is eager to remind their members of, the minute that complaints start to arise.  Buyer beware, they will do everything they can to convince you that you are trapped in the contract for the full duration of the term, which is not always the case.

If you were sold a timeshare under fraudulent pretenses in the United States, you will have multiple contract laws that support your grievance against a timeshare company. If the contract you signed did not meet all legal requirements of disclosure, you may be able to successfully cancel the timeshare contract.

The Legal Right of Disclosure and Acknowledgement of Liability

Laws vary by state, which define how timeshare developers or sales personnel can engage with consumers in the sale process.  The first and most important aspect of the contract, is that a timeshare sales team must provide a disclosure statement to you, before you sign the timeshare agreement.

The typical timeshare disclosure statement must include the following details:

  • The type of timeshare that is being offered (deeded or leased time).
  • A duration summary, including the start and finish date of your timeshare plan.
  • A thorough description of the timeshare accommodation, weeks of entitlement, and existing accommodations and amenities. If the timeshare is new (being built) at the time of purchase, the disclosure must include planned and proposed accommodations.
  • A description of how you may book and use your timeshare, and schedule vacations at the resort.
  • Maximum occupation load (if restrictions exist) that may limit how many people or guests you can have with you, when you use your timeshare.
  • A thorough description of regular cleaning, maintenance and upkeep of the resort, and summary of current annual costs of operation and fees. Most reputable timeshare companies will provide a summary of maintenance fees historically, so that buyers can project the average annual increase to miscellaneous fees.
  • A projected common expense liability. This is the proportionate share of expenses that each unit owner is responsible for.  Common expenses are not able to be waived or exempted from liability for their share of the common expense (i.e., by offering not to use certain facilities or amenities).
  • Copies of articles of incorporation and resort and municipal bylaws.

In addition to providing a timeshare disclosure statement before the contract is signed, timeshare sales personnel must provide a separate document that indicates you received the timeshare disclosure statement.  The law requires that the contract has been thoroughly reviewed with the consumer before signing, and that the consumer has understood the liabilities and obligations involved through purchasing a membership.

If you were not provided with a disclosure statement, and if you did not sign an acknowledgement that you received a timeshare disclosure statement, your contract may be null and void, depending on the state law.

Deceptive Practices in Timeshare Sales

If at the time of signing your timeshare agreement, false or deliberately misleading statements were made to influence you to sign were provided, you may have legal grounds to cancel your contract based on fraud.

Fraudulent and misleading practices in timeshare sales can include:

  • Promises of increased value, or predicting increases in the value of a timeshare over time, without providing sales data and other data to support the claim.
  • Deliberately misrepresenting the amenities of the resort, condition and quality of the accommodations. Were you sold a three-star resort for the promise and cost of five-star timeshare accommodations?
  • Promises of bonuses, discounts, or additional week’s vacation or the ability to exchange weeks with other affiliated timeshare resorts, without any legal entitlement to the incentives.
  • Making a false statement about the ability to ‘change resorts’ or timeshare residential suites if unsatisfied, where no exchange is permitted.
  • Implying that the timeshare could be sold, rented, or transferred easily, without fees and administrative restrictions.

When communicating directly with the timeshare company, many consumers are not aware of the legal obligations involved in contract sales.  Timeshares are more than motivated to convince unhappy members that the contract is legal and binding, however when confronted with the possibility of litigation based on illegal sales practices, some timeshare companies become more cooperative and willing to cancel the contract.

It is because of our experience as the leading timeshare cancellation team (established in 2005) that we can review and recognize deceptive and illegal sales tactics.  We have helped hundreds of families cancel timeshare contracts, and we’ll do everything we can to help you win.   Call today for your free consultation: 1-800-587-EXIT