One of the reasons why timeshares have garnered such an unsavoury reputation over the last few years is that they are notoriously difficult to get out of, once you’ve signed that contract.
Many timeshare resorts include ‘in perpetuity’ clauses in their contracts, which means that you’re essentially tied in for life, so how can you legally exit a timeshare, if at all?
We’re going to quickly run through some of the exit routes available if you do find yourself trapped in a timeshare.
What is an ‘in perpetuity’ contract?
Many timeshare contracts are what is known as ‘in perpetuity’, which means that they essentially last for the entirety of the customer’s life, and can even carry on to their spouse or children once they die.
Of course, this is a highly controversial topic and has left some elderly customers, and even ones who are ill and in care homes, stuck paying maintenance fees on properties which they clearly can’t use.
Can they be cancelled?
Most timeshare agreements will have a ‘cooling off period’ of around 14 days during which time you should be able to cancel the agreement without incurring any costs.
If you’ve passed this point, a timeshare contract may be able to be legally cancelled if you can prove that you are unable to keep up with the payments on it.
For example, if you have been made redundant, declared bankrupt, or your circumstances have otherwise changed in a major way, then you may have grounds to terminate the timeshare agreement.
This is obviously the most straightforward route out of a timeshare, although while some resorts will let you relinquish the property (perhaps in exchange for a period of maintenance fees), unfortunately, many resorts will not be willing to come to such an agreement.
If this is the case, then you may have to sell or donate the timeshare, however, before this point, we recommend getting in touch with legal experts who are well versed in timeshare law at the Timeshare Consumer Association or at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
New court cases are always setting precedents and more and more people are being relieved of their timeshare obligations through legal routes, as you can see in this article from the Telegraph.
Depending on the circumstances, you may even be able to recoup some of the money which you paid in the past to the timeshare company too.
Selling a timeshare
If you’re forced into selling your timeshare on, this can be easier said than done. Firstly, the timeshare resale market is full of people wanting to sell, and not that many wanting to buy, meaning that you likely won’t get anywhere close to the amount that you paid for the timeshare back.
It’s also important to know that it can be a long process trying to sell a timeshare, and could wind up taking a number of months or years.
The other danger is that, unfortunately, the timeshare market is rife with scammers. Many companies which pose as resellers have actually been set up to defraud consumers, requesting upfront payments, then disappearing with the money (never give money upfront to a company which claims to be able to sell your timeshare).