The Department of Consumer Protection has repeatedly been approached by people who are confused due to the fact that the presentation of the vacation shares they visited in reality turned into a sales process. Last time they were Holiday Club customers. They were persuaded for several hours to conclude an agreement on the annual use of the apartment for several vacation weeks somewhere in the luxury resorts of Spain, Portugal, etc. The applicants deeply regretted that they had signed a contract for a total amount of up to several hundred thousand crowns, and sincerely wondered how this could happen.
“Owners for a while” apartments in holiday resorts may face unforeseen complications.
The recently obscure word “timeshare” is now firmly in use. Translated from English time sheir means «time sharing», i.e. the separation between many people of the time of using some property — in this case, a holiday home in warm places. The meaning of the timeshare is that you purchase apartments for a unlimited or long term (40-80 years) apartments in a resort town with the right to use them a certain number of days a year — depending on the amount you paid.
Three years and not a day less
Having been born three decades ago, the timeshare was a wonderful solution to the issue of recreation for thousands of people in the West. Over one and a half million families have become “owners for a while» of apartments in resorts and villas by the sea. One of the advantages of the system is that timeshares can be exchanged, therefore, having invested money once, people got the opportunity to change their vacation destination annually. The system has proven its worth and has even become a symbol of a reasonable and effective investment.
In Estonian law, timeshares are called contracts for the temporary use of buildings, and over the years they have caused problems for many consumers. The degree of security of those who wish to purchase a timeshare has become much higher with the entry into force of the Law of Obligations Law, in which chapter 20 of the Agreement on the temporary use of the building regulates in detail all related issues. However, the provisions of the law apply to those contracts for the temporary use of buildings that are concluded for a period of at least three years.
By subscribing to a timeshare, consumers should be very careful, because the text of the contract can be indicated not in years, but in days, and by the will of inventive entrepreneurs, the total amount sometimes turns out to be only a day or two shorter than the real three years. But the provisions of the law of obligations do not apply to such an agreement, and the client is deprived of the right to withdraw from the agreement, and the seller may demand an advance payment immediately after signing.
Presentation is not a sale
As a rule, consumers are invited to presentations of temporary use of buildings by phone, by mail or simply by going to a potential client on the street, and this can also be encountered in other countries while on vacation. A sales agent calls for an evening presentation event, promising many surprises.
But if the presentation is supposed to “sell” timeshares, the agent, inviting to a meeting, is obliged to inform the consumer that the event is held as part of the campaign for concluding contracts for the temporary use of the building. Gifts and lotteries for presentation guests cannot be presented as the main purpose of the meeting.
A characteristic feature of presentations of temporary use of buildings is aggressiveness, when they try to convince a person for several hours to immediately conclude an agreement.
Think seven times, sign one
If you received an invitation to a presentation of timeshares, keep common sense and before you go, think carefully about whether you really want to conclude such an agreement and how much it will cost to use the house temporarily, for example, in a Mediterranean resort.
You will have to add to your annual expenses the payment of the road from home to the place of rest, which, as a rule, is much more expensive than the cost of air tickets as part of tour packages. Increase the cost of a week’s rest and the annual maintenance fee for using the house. In a word, first of all, you need to calculate in advance whether your budget will pull such costs, and whether you need them.
The party proposing to conclude the contract is obliged to provide the client with the most complete information about the nature of the structure, prices and associated costs, the location of the object and other aspects, as well as the rights associated with its use. If the agreement on the right to use relates to the structure being designed or under construction, then the deadlines for the completion of construction and the commissioning of vital communications and services with data on the building permit, insurance, etc., must also be indicated.
The seller is also obliged to inform the potential buyer about whom, how and for how long it is necessary to inform about the intention to terminate the contract.
Be especially careful if the seller refers in the contract to the laws of any other country, and not the one in which the contract is concluded. And be sure to take some time to think before signing the contract!
If regretted, back off
At the presentation you can often hear that a timeshare is a profitable investment and you can freely sell your share. But on the basis of appeals to the Consumer Protection Board, it can be said that the subsequent sale of the unit is practically impossible and the probability of returning the amount paid for it is minimal.
For many, an important criterion is the right to exchange temporary ownership. Exchange systems are supported by individual organizations, of which the consumer having the right to use can become a member, if such an opportunity is provided for by the contract. But membership in the exchange system involves additional costs — an annual fee and a separate exchange fee.
In a word, if you are at home in a relaxed atmosphere, after signing an agreement on the presentation of a Holiday Club or some other company, you understand that the offer is not so preferential and pleasant as it seemed at first, you have the right to withdraw from the contract within ten days after signing it. And in case of withdrawal from the contract, the proposing party may not demand payment from you. The only exception is the payment of the costs of notarization and approval of the contract, if they are not specified separately.
The desire to withdraw from the contract must be in writing in the same language in which the contract was concluded.
But remember, if the term of the contract offered to you is less than three years for at least one day, all of the above provisions of the law that protect the rights of the consumer are not applicable, in addition, you will subsequently not have the right to withdraw from the contract.