With the summer holidays upon us, and summer making a UK appearance this week, here’s a quick reminder of what timeshare ownership is all about.
And there’s good news. After a handful of countries were slow to transpose the new EU Directive (introduced in February 2011), ALL EU COUNTRIES have now passed it into their national law, which is excellent news for consumers.
What is ‘timeshare’?
Timeshare is the annual right to use accommodation during one or more weeks in a holiday property or several properties. In Europe, there are just under 1,350 timeshare resorts. Unlike fractional ownership, you do not own the property (as in “bricks and mortar”) but you do own points, or weeks (i.e. “the time”) to use at various resorts worldwide, depending on how flexible your membership is.
What is a ‘holiday club’?
A holiday club is where you pay a membership fee which allows you to book and pay for holidays through the club at a discount, however there are disreputable holiday clubs about so you need to be aware.
Note: To be safe, always buy timeshare from an RDO member. The Resort Development Organisation is the official body for timeshare in Europe and there is a list of members at www.rdo.org. RDO does not have ANY holiday clubs in membership.
The new Timeshare Directive (EU legislation)
The EU regulates aspects of timeshare, long-term holiday products, resale and exchange contracts. In 2011 the ‘new’ Directive 2008/122/EC replaced the old Timeshare Directive 94/47/EC with clearer and simpler rules. The new Directive covers timeshares today, including new products e.g. holiday clubs, resale and exchanges.
The 2011 EU Directive covers under its umbrella:
• Long-term holiday products (i.e. holiday clubs)
• Shorter term contracts – all purchases for a year or more (including “trial membership”). Before, it only covered memberships for 34 months or longer.
• All sorts of timeshare-related products e.g. timeshare in canal boats, cruises and caravans or timeshare contracts for less than three years (previous legislation only covered periods of three years or more)
• Resale and exchange of timeshare
• The Directive was created to apply across the EU (although not every country adhered to the rules within its national law immediately)
• Developers and timeshare resorts selling timeshare must now include pre-contractual information to the consumer (and in the consumer’s own language so there is no misunderstanding)
• Consumers have a cooling-off period of 14 calendar days, with no cancellation costs incurred. No reason has to be given but cancellation must be made in writing, ideally by recorded delivery or another trackable method.
• Traders or any third party cannot ask consumers for deposits, advance payment, guarantees or reservation of money during the cooling-off period
• There are specific payment rules for long-term holiday product contracts
• There are compulsory penalties (which comply with national/local laws) if the timeshare trader does not comply with the national rules implementing the Directive
• Any loans or finance agreements are automatically terminated if the consumer cancels which offers peace of mind
• Timeshare and long-term holiday products must not be sold as an “investment”
• As mentioned above, contracts must be in an EU language of the consumer’s choice so that every detail of the contract is fully understood before signing.
When did the new rules come into force?
Implementation of the Directive started across the EU February 2011. The UK implemented it on 23 February 2011 and Spain, on 17thMarch 2012
ALMOST ALL EUROPEAN COUNTRIES HAVE NOW TRANSPOSED THE DIRECTIVE INTO THEIR NATIONAL LAW: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/12/528&
Also see: Mindtimeshare’s news about the EU Timeshare Directive: http://mindtimeshare.me/2012/06/04/all-european-members-have-now-transposed-the-directive-into-their-national-law/