Anyone who has ever been wooed by a timeshare sales rep most likely already knows that there is corruption in the timeshare industry. The resorts and timeshare management companies that pull people in are often less than forthcoming about how long the timeshare contract will last.
How hard it is to legally sell a timeshare after it has been purchased, and what it will cost a buyer over the year. This article will take a look at the problems with timeshare arrangements and the industry-wide corruption at the root of them.
The Problems With Timeshares
Timeshares are often presented as being a good investment that will save buyers money on vacations and provide them with a solid return. In reality, most people use one or two of their weeks, then find themselves struggling with the question, how do I get out of a timeshare? The difficulty associated with getting out of a timeshare contract is just one of several problems buyers face.
A second serious issue pertains to hidden fees. If timeshare contracts were lifelong commitments but didn’t come with ballooning expenses, the situation might be different for some owners. However, the reality is that just about every timeshare comes with multiple hidden costs. People are led to believe that they are paying up-front for the use of the timeshare for either a set number of years or for the rest of their lives. What they don’t realize is that they will also need to pay everything from additional transaction charges to ever-growing maintenance fees, property taxes, special assessment charges, and more.
How Things Got to Be This Way
If it sounds unusual for a real estate company to be able to charge an undisclosed amount of money to people contractually bound to pay it whether they use a property or not and maintain the contract for an entire human lifespan, that’s because it certainly is. The actions taken by timeshare companies would be immediately scrutinized anywhere else in the real estate industry, but somehow, they manage to slip under the radar.
All it takes to determine why that’s the case is a look at how much money timeshare companies put towards lobbying. The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) indicates that the timeshare industry generated nearly $5 billion in revenue in 2020. Public records show that the ARDA contributed well over $1 million of that revenue to lobbying funds in just the first six months of 2021.
Few would expect strong consumer protections in an industry that has so much lobbying power, and indeed, there aren’t many. The FTC offers information about common scams and what rights buyers have when they purchase legitimate timeshares. However, the lack of regulations within the industry means that the rights of timeshare buyers and owners are few and far between. There are decent timeshare companies out there, but most exploit people with impunity.
What to Do About Unwanted Timeshares
In most cases, timeshare buyers are contractually obligated to keep their weeks and continue paying all of the associated costs, even if they don’t use the timeshare property. In some cases, though, timeshares step over the line and give owners just cause to back out of their contracts. Only a lawyer will be able to evaluate the details of a specific contract to see if any clauses can be used as loopholes to get it thrown out, so the best thing to do about unwanted timeshares is to hire a good law firm.