Timeshare Laws Are Changing for the Better in Europe
Friday, November 28, 2008
If you buy timeshares in countries other than the United States, the laws of the country in which the timeshare is located govern your transaction. The only exception to this can occur when you have dealt with a sales office that represents timeshare in other countries, but the office itself is located in the United States and your contract closes in the United States.
European Timeshare Sales Slower than in Other Destinations
While timeshare as a concept got its start in Europe, timeshare sales never took off in Europe in the same way they have in the US. Although approximately 1.5 million Europeans have bought timeshares, the consensus is that some of them have been misled in making their purchase.
One major deterrent to European timeshare sales and industry growth has been an ambiguity – a bit of a loophole – that enabled a product known as a “holiday club” to work around Europe’s original timeshare regulation, (Timeshare Directive 94/47/EC) a law that was first passed by the European Union in 1994. Holiday clubs operated outside this earlier EU timeshare law by offering a product with only a three-year duration of ownership, because until October 2008, European Union law applied to timeshare products if they involved more than a three-year period of ownership. With the door wide upon for timeshare scams at unregulated holiday clubs it was often difficult for consumers to identify which European vacation ownership products were “safe” to buy and which ones to avoid.
As Harry Taylor, CEO of TATOC (The Association of Timeshare Owners Committee; the only elected consumers association to represent the interests of timeshare owners in Europe) explains, “The previous Bill was not flexible enough to cover such products as canal boats and as usual there were companies that were able to circumvent the law. For instance, the introduction of holiday clubs … Also there was the confusing aspect of there being different rulings in different countries. This new European legislation will remove any confusion and protect consumers whether they are buying in Spain or Greece.”
Saturday’s The Timeshare Authority will fill you in on more details about the newly passed European Union legislation. And be sure to read The Timeshare Authority blog for Monday, December 1, to learn more about TATOC.