Buying a property under the traditional timeshare regime - the right to use that property several times over a period of more than a year - can be quite problematic. The same can be said about joining systems offering long-term holiday products, such as holiday clubs, which give you the right to discounts on accommodation or access to various benefits, sometimes in combination with travel or other services, on a more than one year.
Both conventional timeshare regimes and various systems offering long-term holiday products that have emerged over the years may involve a substantial, permanent or long-term financial commitment. They also provide recurrent costs (taxes, maintenance costs, insurance, etc.).
Contractual clauses - your rights
The latest EU rules give you protection against unscrupulous traders when you sign contracts for timeshare purchases or other systems offering long-term holiday products. These rules refer to contracts concluded from 23 February 2011 (or later in some EU countries).
Norms also protect you when you sign:
resale contracts (pay a specialist to help you sell or buy a timeshare or admission to a holiday club)
exchange contracts (you pay to join a system that allows you to use accommodation or other services, while allowing others to temporarily use their own timeshare property).
Your rights extend to different types of timeshare real estate including:
What you need to know before buying
Before you decide to sign a contract, it is good to know your rights. These include:
Provide all information related to the terms of the contract before signing it. You must receive this information in writing in your own language (if it is an official EU language).
A reflection of 14 calendar days, during which you can decide to withdraw from the contract without giving any explanation. If you do not receive the standard withdrawal form required by EU rules, this reflection period is extended to 1 year and 14 calendar days.
An extension of the reflection period to 3 months and 14 calendar days if you do not receive complete information about the product you are buying.
The seller can not ask for a prepayment or deposit during the reflection period.
When you become a member of a holiday club, the payment must be made in equal installments at one-year intervals.
You also have the right to terminate the contract with the holiday club without paying penalties, starting with the second installment. When you receive the invoice for the next payment, you have 14 calendar days to notify the merchant of your intention to terminate the contract.
If you also signed an additional exchange contract, it is terminated automatically and free of charge when you withdraw from the timeshare contract.
If, on the basis of a resale agreement, you hired a specialist to help you sell your time on a timeshare or admission to a holiday club, the specialist can not ask you to make any payment to him as long as the product was not sold or the resale contract terminated.
Whenever the contract concerns timeshare or other long-term holiday products, you are protected by these rules, even if the seller claims they are not applicable.
Unfair commercial practices and abusive contractual clauses
We also recommend that you pay close attention to the following:
misleading sales techniques such as scratch cards: you are told that you have won, but in order to raise your prize you are invited to attend an event in which timeshare goods are sold, where you are pressed to sign a contract
Suspicious resale offers, especially when the seller persuades you to acquire another property by promising you to sell the asset you already have: you can thus get into the possession of two timeshare properties that you do not own you want and you do not need
suspicious offers from people claiming to be lawyers in other EU countries, and I propose to represent you, against a commission, before the courts of those countries in any dispute you have with a seller
suspicious offers from people claiming to be able to "recover" in exchange for a fee the payments you made to the seller of a timeshare property
the seller can not abusively limit your right to sell or rent the property acquired under timeshare or the possibility of exchanging rights with others; can not restrict your access to services or ask you to pay unwarranted maintenance costs. If the seller does all these things under the standard terms of the contract, those terms may conflict with the regulations on unfair contract terms and are therefore not binding on you.
take into account the long-term or even permanent effects of a timeshare contract. Think well if you will / will still be able to use the goods purchased over 10 or 20 years ago. Will your children, who could inherit these goods and be required to pay maintenance, will want to use them?
If you have problems in your country of residence, please contact your national consumer authority. If you have a dispute with a seller from another EU country, contact the European Consumer Center (ECC-Net) to find out what rights you have and how you can be protected.
To resolve the dispute amicably, you can also appeal to an alternative dispute resolution procedure. If you made the online purchase, you can file the complaint via the SOL platform.