What is a '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 approximately 1,500 timeshare resorts.
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.
EU Legislation on Timeshare
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 the market changes and new products e.g. holiday clubs, resale and exchange.
The new regulations extend the scope of previous rules to cover:
- Long-term holiday products (e.g. holiday clubs)
- Shorter term contracts [all purchases for a year or more, including tacit renewal of shorter periods]
- Timeshare-like products [e.g. timeshare in canal boats, cruise-ships 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 schemes
Key points of the new Directive are:
- Full harmonisation across the EU
- Detailed rules on pre-contractual information
- Cooling-off period is 14 calendar days, with no cancellation costs incurred. No reason has to be given
- Prohibits traders or any third party from asking consumers for deposits, advance payment, guarantees or reservation of money during the cooling-off period
- Specific payment rules for long-term holiday product contracts
- Any linked loan or finance agreement is automatically terminated if the consumer cancels
- Timeshare and long-term holiday products must not be sold as an investment
- Contracts must be in an EU language of the consumer's choice
When did the new rules come into force?
Implementation of the Directive is now complete across the EU. The UK implemented it on 23 February 2011.
Top Timeshare Tips from UK European Consumer Centre
1. Beware of aggressive sales
Timeshares and holiday clubs are often sold using aggressive techniques (many of which are illegal in the EU). For example, holidaymakers may be offered a scratch card which invariably wins a prize. To get the prize, they are lured into a commercial presentation and pressured into signing a contract on the spot. Be wary of people approaching you on the street whilst on holiday.
2. Be cautious of timeshare resale offers
Some timeshare resale companies offer to resell your timeshare for an upfront fee. Once the fee is paid, sales rarely take place and, where they do, it is often at a selling price that barely covers the fees.
Timeshare sellers may also try to persuade you to buy another property, saying that they will sell your current property. Often, these sales never happen and you may be left with two timeshares!
3. Contract cancellation: holiday clubs
If you have already signed up to a holiday club and want to cancel, check the terms of your contract carefully and request cancellation immediately.
If you are not sure whether you are covered by the new 14-day contract cancellation period for timeshare, get in touch with us.