Timeshare – TRANSFER FRAUD – “the Death of the Timeshare Transfer Model?”
Getting Out of a Timeshare: Doing it with legal experts for assistance, as opposed to a non-lawyer service using a “shell” company to embroil you in a timeshare fraud scam.
Buying into a timeshare in the first place is something you need to think about. In many cases, signing a timeshare contract may not just obligate you, but may obligate others (typically your children) when you pass on. In any event, you may find that after a few years, the timeshare is not for you. Your vacation plans may have changed, or your economic situation may have changed.
So, if you find that you want to get out of a timeshare interest, then you want to cancel a timeshare contract in a way that is effective. That is, that getting out of a timeshare contract means really “getting out” for good (i.e. legally).
Recent Florida legislation: CS/HB 7025 – Timeshares:
has made it illegal to “transfer” a timeshare interest to an entity that is simply going to default on the obligation and let it go back to the developer.
So there are certain pitfalls to making a “transfer” to a company or entity that may be engaged in timeshare transfer fraud. In response to lobbying from the state’s timeshare industry, Florida lawmakers passed a law that would make it harder for transfer companies to dump unwanted properties without paying the bills… i.e. GAME OVER for “shell” transfer companies.
Orlando Sentinel-Jason Garcia
May 3, 2013
Among many other provisions, HB 7025 would outlaw controversial re-sale strategies known as “Viking ships.” Under the practice, a time-share owner desperate to be rid of their unit will pay transfer companies to take the properties off their hands. If the transfer company is unable to resell or rent the unit, it will then dump the time share into an otherwise asset-less corporate entity – the Viking ship – and then stop paying all dues, leaving the original resort with no option but to foreclose and take back the property.
The American Resort Development Association, the time-share lobbying group, said Viking ship sales have cost the industry at least $8 million in unpaid maintenance fees.
Contracts are often hard to interpret. They can also be hard to get of. Attorneys specialize in interpreting contracts, and in some instances, can find a route out of the contract. Resorts selling timeshares are often agreeable to negotiated agreements where the person or persons who entered into the timeshare contract can be let out, but both sides can reach a mutual understanding to legally divest the timeshare. If there is an attorney involved to cancel your timeshare, you have some reasonable assurance that in fact you will be let out of further obligations by way of negotiated agreement, and you know the attorney exists and you haven’t paid good money for a timeshare fraud scam.
A timeshare “transfer” to a company or entity involves guess work as to what the company’s or entity’s true intent may be; whether it is to simply take your money and then default on the timeshare contract, or whether it is to transfer the timeshare to a legitimate purchaser, or just to defraud the original selling resort. If your transfer is to a shell company, which simply defaults, the resort has every reason to argue that the transfer was invalid, and that you are still on the hook. That’s what the new law in timeshare transfers is all about.
CONSUMER EXPERT…See what CLARK HOWARD SAID about this very subject of timeshare “transfer” and “Viking ships” and the associated fraud that could cause secondary liability to victimized timeshare owners. Also see our Blog reply at Clark Howard’s website.
A consumer attorney negotiating on your behalf may typically take a retainer, but many like TheAbramsFirm.com will do a complete divestment for no upfront fees. No money up front means they get paid in the end (after full performance) for the completed services. A “transfer” company that is just going to “buy you out” is probably going to take your money upfront, typically all your money upfront, to even accept the supposed transfer of the timeshare.
Consumers should always Beware of Upfront Fees to Sell a Timeshare or Transfer a Timeshare
In the end, you have to decide: put money up front and hope that all will be well, or pay upon completion of services, with the assurance that you are released from further obligations under the timeshare.
Pam Bondi Florida’s Attorney General and the Florida legislature has in essence protected timeshare owners in this legislation, so consumers don’t unwittingly get involved in transactions that are now clearly illegal. And it is finally clear to the timeshare world (as savvy consumer counsels began to discover in the late part of the last decade) that:
The Timeshare Transfer Model is Broken and Beyond Repair
However, consumers need not despair, because the most direct relief is a resort signature on a negotiated release, and for this you probably need an attorney involved who is skilled in these matters. For the Savvy Consumer, this is the only sure fire and safe solution!