Here at the TCA we regularly speak to consumers who are being taken advantage of and then being threatened with ruinous lawsuits. It’s a ludicrous situation. Once again, a desperate owner has been in touch with us for advice on exiting their Loch Rannoch ownership in Perthshire, Scotland;
Mr. S is 80 and his wife is 76 years old, they purchased their timeshare in Loch Ranoch in 1998 and have been paying the fees for over 20 years! However, their loyalty for the last 20 years fell on deaf ears when they wrote to the resort asking them to assist them. The couple explained that they had already been forced to downsize their home in order to try and meet the ever-increasing maintenance fees from the resort. The couple also requested the resort put their unit up for auction, neither of which happened.
Mr. & Mrs. S are now receiving threatening debt collection letters from Loch Rannoch Resort demanding that they pay the outstanding monies of £1005 within 30 days or they will begin legal action, the letter also informs the poor clients that they will also be responsible for any amounts advised by the court and the cost of the legal proceedings. This of course is a false threat, as the court proceedings (if it ever reaches that) are paid by the losing side, which more than likely in this event would be the resort.
Mr. & Mrs. S are on a state pension! Where do the timeshare resorts honestly think they will find the money to pay them? Unlike themselves; who have had their pockets lined by these and the 100´s of other owners who unfortunately signed up and paid for these lifetime clauses in the timeshare contract.
Resort Owners and Developers cannot argue that their obligations to consumers are dictated solely by what it says in the contract. In particular there may be scope for challenging under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA 2015) an unfair contract term, particularly where the term would place an onerous restriction on the consumer. For example, terms that purport to be estate binding, requiring excessive notice periods from owners, or placing unduly high barriers to exit.
In a briefing paper from the House of Commons, dated 16th May 2017 called “Timeshares”, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) made the following observations about the state of the market for timeshares:
- There are 500k to 600k UK timeshare owners, almost half of which own in Spain, 20% in the UK and 25% outside of Europe
- The average age of these owners is 60 years old+ as many of these owners bought in 1980´s and 1990´s
- As time passes many of these owners will not be able to enjoy their timeshares because of ill health or mobility problems or most likely, they find it less and less affordable to pay the ever-increasing maintenance/management fees.
- Unfortunately, the owners are tied into ´in-perpetuity´ clauses, the implications of which were not fully explained to them at the time of purchase and now these liabilities may pass to their children when they die.
- The CMA highlights the fact that owners in a desperate attempt to be rid of this ongoing debt have stopped paying their management fees and have subsequently been threatened with legal action
The resort owners or management companies who are trying to enforce fee payment should face some kind of legal sanction for this kind of bullying – well at least something that will make them think twice before going ahead with these tactics. Distraught clients who are at their wits end are merely trying to get away from the albatross that their timeshare has now turned into.
Posted on: April 11, 2019
For more information regarding this article or assistance in any other timeshare related issues please contact the TCA on 01253 804 318 or email: info@TimeshareConsumerAssociation.org.uk