What To Do About A Dispute Over Your Holiday Timeshare
A timeshare is a holiday home shared by numerous consumers. Within a timeshare, consumers will pay fees toward the property in return for the exclusive use of the property at a certain time. The exclusive use of the property can either be for an agreed fixed period (usually stated within the contract) or a floating period, subject to the availability of the property. This is an appealing choice for many, whether you are planning a holiday home to visit upon retirement or whether you simply enjoy visiting the same place each year.
Despite their appeal, timeshare companies have received some notoriously bad publicity over the past few decades, so much so that the Timeshare Consumer Association has published a blacklist of companies to avoid. Arguably, one of the main reasons why the timeshare industry has developed a negative reputation is due to the clauses included within their agreements with the consumer. These clauses may impose additional charges and obligations that the consumer was not aware of and may also attempt to restrict the consumer’s methods of terminating the agreement. It is for this reason that the EU introduced the “timeshare Directive” in 2011, requiring member states to afford more protection to consumers in the timeshare industry.
However, many consumers are still not made fully aware of the terms of the contract at the point of signing. For example, in the recent case against the Gran Canaria based Anfi Group it was held that an ‘in perpetuity’ clause broke Spanish law and rendered the contract invalid. If this decision was not reached, the clause would have meant that the consumer was bound by the contract forever, which could have resulted in elderly consumers having to pay fees for a holiday home that they can no longer use. There is no doubt that the decision in this case was reached as a result of the introduction of the EU Directive in 2011, however, the extent to which English law has implemented this directive is yet to be fully tested in an English Court.
Despite increased consumer protection, many timeshare companies are still quick to threaten legal action if payments are not made and are heavily persistent in their claims, particularly when attempting to recover disputed debts from the consumer. Many consumers will have been targeted by debt recovery agencies and some may have experienced feelings of harassment. This can lead to the consumer paying disputed sums when they may in fact have a legitimate defence against claims made by their timeshare company.
Our Commercial Litigation Team has vast experience in handling contractual and debt recovery disputes. Should you find yourself embroiled in a dispute with your timeshare company, please contact us.