A new Directive is to be implemented into national law by all European Union Member States by this Wednesday 23rd February 2011. This law replaces the current European Timeshare Directive and goes one step further by including timeshare exchange, resale and holiday clubs. It also covers fractional ownership.
This extension has been brought about not because the European Timeshare Directive has been ineffective – far from it, it is widely acknowledged that timeshare complaints are now few and far between – but rather as a result of a steep rise in the number of complaints about holiday clubs and non RDO-registered resale companies, neither of which are subject to any specific regulation at present.
The new law is good news for consumers as it will bring an end to the confusion of not knowing what protection is provided around Europe. Being a ‘maximum harmonisation’ Directive, a 14 calendar day cooling off period and a ban on deposit taking during the cooling off period are mandatory and Member States cannot deviate from these requirements.
The conditions for holiday clubs are particularly strict; payments must be divided into equal annual instalments for the length of the contract and the buyer has the right to cancel each year when the annual payment is due. Given these onerous requirements, RDO believes that much of the activity of these clubs will cease as they will be unable/unwilling to operate in a regulated environment.
Likewise, the requirement for resale companies to provide a cooling off period, during which time it is prohibited to take any form of payment, will see the incidence of fraud decrease.