Looking at the Laws that Govern Timeshare Sales in the US and Internationally
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
For timeshare developers, and certainly for timeshare buyers, regulating the ways in which timeshares are marketed and sold is one of the best things that has happened to the industry – but it has also created one of the industry’s biggest challenges. Yes, tougher regulations were desperately needed in 1977 when only three states in the United States had any type of timeshare regulatory laws on their books. And during the decade that followed, when thirty-eight states implemented new laws and the other twelve designated existing laws to include timeshares, industry standards and practices improved significantly.
But the downside to the tougher legislation is that timeshare developers and timeshare resellers now face the challenge of operating global businesses while complying with regulations that vary greatly from country to country, state to state, and sometimes municipality to municipality. For consumers, it means that one-size does not fit all when it comes to timeshare laws and practices.
Overview of Timeshare Rescission Practices in the US
In the United States, most states have sets of laws specifically to regulate timeshare sales and the timeshare industry while a few states apply the same laws to timeshares that they apply to other types of real estate. Almost all states now have a rule that specifically requires buyers be given a period of time during which they can legally change their mind about the purchase of a timeshare and during which they will forfeit no payments or deposits already made. This is the rescission period, and it was created to protect buyers. But buyer beware; the rescission period means different things in different places.
The length of time and the specifics of the cancellation period for the purchase of a timeshare varies greatly from state to state. Hawaii, Florida, Nevada, and South Carolina are top timeshare sales states in the US, but all have different laws regarding the rescission of a timeshare sales contract. In Hawaii, for example, current state law gives a timeshare buyer seven days to cancel a timeshare sales contract. In Florida, the Florida Vacation Plan and Timeshare Act affords buyers ten calendar days of rescission from the date the buyer signs the purchase contract. In contrast, Nevada gives buyers only until midnight of the fifth calendar day following the date of execution of the contract to back out, while South Carolina allows only four days, not including Sunday.
In nearly every US state, and in most countries, your cooling off or rescission period cannot be waived. Someone who asks you to sign such a waiver is acting illegally and is most assuredly trying to dupe you into believing you have no period in which to reconsider your purchase. And timeshare rescission laws only get more varied when you look at them on an international level.
Looking at the Big Picture of Timeshare Sales Laws and Rescission
In blog posts later this week, The Timeshare Authority will be looking at timeshare laws in other countries and particularly the very positive changes made by Members of European Parliament last month to make British vacationers (and anyone who buys European timeshare) better informed and less at risk when buying or renting timeshare or timeshare resales.
Watch for more on this in The Timeshare Authority on Friday and Saturday.