The Timeshare Directive Gets a Makeover

A strong standard of timeshare control is about to get even tougher.

The European Commission has launched a public consultation regarding its Timeshare Directive, seeking to plug loopholes that have become evident since the Directive’s 1994 release. The original intent of the Timeshare Directive was to create a standardized cooling off or rescission period for timeshare buyers wishing to change their minds. Additionally the Directive sought to reduce pressure sales techniques, while ensuring that timeshare buyers receive adequate information about the properties they purchase. The Directive addresses timeshare contracts that are 36 months in duration or longer.

During the years that the Timeshare Directive has already been in place, timeshare sales practices in Europe have improved greatly. Yet some new timeshare-like products have been developed seeking to take advantage of gaps or loopholes in the Directive’s language. New products are being sold for 35-month memberships along with certain vacation clubs that also fall outside the guidelines established by the original Commission action. The 9-week consultation, which began earlier this month, seeks to plug these gaps, as well as prevent future problems from developing.

The Timeshare Directive is presently applicable to any contract made for timeshare purchase (36 months or longer) under the law of a European Union country or when the property is in the European Economic Area. The European Union countries include: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, all of which grant timeshare buyers a 10-day rescission period. The United Kingdom, (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) has an additional specific ruling that typically gives buyers a full 14 days to change their minds.