Timeshares can be an attractive option for folks who love taking vacations.
Timeshare owners can lock in future trips at today's prices. They also might give travelers access to a variety of onsite amenities. These are some of the reasons that the timeshare industry grew by 7% last year.
But in some cases, people end up with a timeshare they no longer want. Perhaps they purchased it on impulse and didn't consider the cost of the maintenance fees. Or they might have inherited a timeshare that they don't want to keep.
While timeshare cancellation can be complicated, it doesn't have to bankrupt you.
If you have a Florida timeshare you're looking to exit, keep reading to find out what steps you'll need to take.
Right to Timeshare Cancellation Laws in Florida
Many consumers purchase timeshares during a high-pressure sales pitch. The company offers a deal that they claim is only available for one day. Then, if you reject the pitch, they offer additional incentives to make the package seem more desirable.
In many cases, the buyer doesn't realize what all of the fine print entails until after they sign the contract. Once they've had time to reflect, they start experiencing buyer's remorse and wonder if it's too late to get out of the deal.
Laws regarding timeshare cancellation vary from state to state. Some states only allow for cancellation under certain circumstances. Other states only give consumers 3 business days after signing to cancel their timeshare.
Luckily, Florida has some of the most consumer-friendly timeshare cancellation laws in the country.
In Florida, consumers have 10 calendar days to cancel their timeshare. The timeline is calculated from either the day the contract is signed or the day the buyer received all required documents, whichever occurred later.
Canceling Your Timeshare
Cancellations that fall within the 10-day cancellation period are the easiest to process. If you decide to cancel your timeshare, you will need to notify the seller.
Requests for timeshare cancellation must be submitted to the seller in writing. Make sure your letter includes your legal name as it appears on the contract, as well as your phone number, address, and email. You should also include the name of the timeshare company, the date you purchased the timeshare, and a statement that you are canceling the contract.
Check your contract for instructions on sending the timeshare cancellation letter. For example, some contracts require that the letter is sent by certified mail. If you don't follow the instructions listed in the contract, the seller may be able to argue that your cancellation is invalid.
The seller is then required to refund all payments either 20 days after they receive or written notice or 5 days after the funds from your check have cleared. Whichever event occurs later will be used as the standard.
In some cases, buyers receive incentives as part of the timeshare package they purchase. If you cancel your timeshare, the value of these incentives will be subtracted from your refund.
Canceling Afer the Cancellation Period
Once the cancellation period has passed, canceling the timeshare becomes more complicated. When you purchase a timeshare, you are signing a contract that you are legally required to uphold. That said, it is still possible to get out of the contract.
Obligations of the Timeshare Seller
Under Florida law, timeshare sellers must meet certain disclosure obligations. If these obligations are not fulfilled, it may be easier to get out of your contract.
Together, these disclosures are called the "Public Offering Statement." This statement is a detailed history of the timeshare property or program that you're buying into.
At a minimum, the public offering statement should include a description of the timeshare and the duration of the timeshare. It should also indicate whether the purchaser will have any interest in an actual property, and should detail what accommodations the timeshare holder is entitled to.
Finally, the disclosure must outline how the seller apportions shared expenses among timeshare holders. Failing to include any of this information could make the contract invalid.
When to Consult an Attorney
In most cases, canceling a timeshare after the cancellation period will require legal action, and maybe even a lawsuit. Consulting with an attorney is your best bet in this situation. Make sure to choose a lawyer who has experience working with contracts in general and timeshares specifically.
An experienced attorney will be able to navigate consumer protection laws on your behalf. Also, an attorney might be able to identify a loophole in your contract that renders the agreement void. This is the most effective way to be relieved of your contractual obligations.
In rare cases, you may even be able to recover some of the money you have already invested. Keep in mind, however, that it is very difficult to recover funds from a timeshare company after the cancellation period has passed.
What if You're in Foreclosure?
Since timeshares typically cost upwards of $20,000, most people do not pay for them in cash. Instead, they take out a mortgage that they make monthly payments on. These payments are in addition to a yearly maintenance fee.
But just like with a mortgage on a home, there are consequences if you don't make your monthly payments on your timeshare. If you fall behind on payments, your timeshare will go into foreclosure.
There are two types of foreclosure: judicial and nonjudicial. Judicial foreclosures are settled through a court, whereas nonjudicial foreclosures are settled out of court.
Luckily, in the state of Florida, timeshare foreclosures are handled through a nonjudicial process. So, if you go into foreclosure on your timeshare, you can settle the issue with the seller out of court. Typically, when you enter foreclosure, the seller will send you a notice that they intend to resell your timeshare, and then they will place it up for auction.
While this might seem like an easy way to get out of your timeshare, it's not necessarily that simple. Foreclosing on a timeshare will tank your credit score. For this reason, it's much better to consult with an attorney before it gets to this point.
If you need help with timeshare cancellation, contact us
. Our timeshare exit experts will work with you to make sure your rights as a consumer are protected.