Demand a path out of timeshare contracts right now for consumers struggling amid COVID-19

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Right now, Americans are facing an unprecedented crisis unlike any other we’ve seen in our lifetime. Many have lost loved ones from COVID-19, while others are faced with medical or financial hardships. They have also lost their freedom to travel, including their ability to use their timeshare.

The need for consumers to exit their timeshares is more relevant now than ever, yet their ability to exit is stifled by the red tape put up by the timeshare industry. We have already heard far too many stories of consumers being stuck paying maintenance fees despite not being able to travel, or even feeling torn between being safe and using the timeshare they’ve paid so much for.

Here are some ways that timeshare developers can take action right now to ease the financial and psychological burden on owners:

1) Allow owners to unilaterally terminate an unencumbered, non-deeded timeshare interest with written notice to the developer

2) Give timeshare owners a one-year hiatus on all maintenance fees. If they can’t safely use the property, please do not charge them for it.

3) Provide responsible exits for all timeshare owners facing a hardship, whether medical, financial or other.

4) All paid-in-full timeshares should be able to be transferred back to the resort at no cost.

5) Resorts must establish a mortgage forgiveness program. The average timeshare this past year was sold for more than $20,000. At the typical interest rate of 17%, that’s almost $350 per month that many of these owners can no longer afford.

If you’d like to see developers adopt these common-sense solutions for consumers in crisis, we urge you to share this petition to help raise awareness; and if you or someone you know has felt wronged by the timeshare industry, we urge you to contact your state and local lawmakers as well as consumer advocates like the Better Business Bureau.

No one should feel trapped in a timeshare – especially right now.

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Demand reform of the timeshare industry’s unfair and deceptive practices:

The timeshare industry is infamous for its perceived high-pressure sales techniques, for locking millions of people in perpetuity with non-cancelable contracts, and for practices that can make it difficult for owners to vacation where and when they want.

Just read this recent Arizona Republic feature for a heartbreaking look at how these practices affect real people.

Dozens of lawsuits have alleged that consumers are subjected to fraud, deception and preying on the elderly, along with violations of numerous local, state and federal regulations. Concurrently, state legislatures in Arizona, Florida and Nevada have introduced bills that would either increase or lessen the rights of timeshare owners.

Now, the Coalition to Reform Timeshare (CRT) has been launched to advocate for the rights of more than 9 million timeshare owners in the U.S. By signing this petition, you will be helping CRT expose the industry's dark underbelly by forcefully advocating for a strict code of ethics for timeshare companies, transparency in its sales techniques, and for the rights of all timeshare owners.

Signing this petition will also signal your support for establishing a Timeshare Bill of Rights that will promote fair and ethical business practices. The Timeshare Bill of Rights aims to enhance the owner-developer relationship in the long-run by promoting healthy, respectful communication and business practices:

1) The right to a 24-hour cooling-off period prior to signing a timeshare contract to allow for the review of all sales and contract information including, but not limited to, other governing documents, public offering statements and covenants that run with the land.

2) The right to receive complete disclosure of the true market value of the timeshare, prior to the timeshare being purchased.  

3) The right to be free of any high-pressure sales techniques and verbal misrepresentations intended to circumvent the assessment period. For example, “Today Only” offers or the requirement of any form of advance payment to attend a timeshare presentation. Developers would be prohibited from collecting and withholding a credit card, driver’s license or other item before or during the timeshare presentation.

4) The right to record the entire sales presentation or to require the developer to record the entire sales presentation, including the closing of the sale, and to retain the recording for a period of 24 months with no waiver.

5) The right to full transparency during the sales presentation without any waiver of verbal representations during the closing of the sale. This right also prevents owners from being required to attend “update meetings” or similar meetings if a sales presentation is conducted during this meeting.

6) The right to full disclosure of the resort owners’ association financials, as well as disclosure of any and all HOA fees, including indirect resort costs imposed on owners which may increase maintenance fees and special assessments. This right also includes yearly owner roster notifications that disclose the number of weeks or points under developer control with the HOA, not excluding resale and rentals the HOA has control over.

7) The right to have the rescission period for a contract extended to one week after a person returns from their vacation to allow appropriate family and/or legal counsel review. The rescission date would be clearly noted in the contract based on input from the consumer on when they return home.

8) The right to be free of sales calls from the timeshare developer before or after the sale and the right to be free of attempts by the timeshare developer to have a consumer re-activate a previously rescinded sales contract.

9) The right to full disclosure of the entire cost of timeshare ownership, including available interest rates, before a consumer signs a contract. This would include projected increases in maintenance fees based on the average maintenance fee increase for the past five years for an individual property.

10) The right to have sales agents and timeshare companies subscribe to an industry code of ethics.

11) The right as a timeshare owner or vacation club member to have priority booking of reservations over the general public.

12) The right to unilaterally terminate an unencumbered, non-deeded timeshare interest with written notice to the developer upon making the current “use year” maintenance fee payment.

CRT is inviting timeshare owners to become members, share personal stories of problems with timeshare ownership, and show lawmakers and the timeshare industry that there is a real demand for change. To join the Coalition or share your story, go to ReformTimeshare.org.