By: DAISY SAMPSON
TIMESHARE HORROR stories are set to become a thing of the past as a new directive by the European Parliament aims to harmonise timeshare laws across the EU, protecting the consumer, eradicating rogue traders, and creating confidence in the timeshare market.
More than 1.5 million consumers in the EU are involved in timeshare, with the majority coming from the UK and Germany.
The timeshare market, despite its bad press, continues to grow and is worth an estimated 2.3 billion euros per year.
The new laws, which will come into force next month, will include legislation to cover new products, resale contracts and exchange contracts.
The new regulations hope to protect current and prospective consumers with special attention being focused on withdrawal contracts and terms.
According to the directive, consumers will now have the right to ask for their contract to be in the language of their choice, as long as it is an officially recognised language of the EU.
Advanced payments have also been prohibited in all areas of timeshare and the law will now apply to any contract exceeding one year, a change from previously only being applicable for those with more than a three-year term.
A cooling-off period from signing the contract has also been agreed at 14 days from the time the contract is signed.
Every contract must include a withdrawal contract in the language of the consumer’s choice and if the consumer chooses to withdraw then they will not incur any costs or penalties for doing so.
It will now be law for any invitations made by timeshare companies to be clearly explained to consumers as being sales initiatives.
Sales teams are also now prohibited from marketing timeshare as an investment opportunity.
MEP Arlene McCarthy said: “This timeshare law is long overdue. These really are good rights for consumers. They will turn our traders into responsible traders and we will have informed and protected consumers, which means we can drive out dodgy dealers and scam merchants.”
Portugal is considered to be one of the timeshare hotspots in the EU, with the majority of the market being based in the Algarve region.
Algarve based timeshare company, Club Albufeira, welcomes the new regulations. Andy Elphick from Club Albufeira told The Resident: “Laws were needed to curb over zealous sales people. This new regulation will protect the industry against rogue and cowboy outfits.”
He added: “I don’t think that this will affect our business, though, nor will it increase the number of people buying timeshare.”
Fractional ownership, such as is being offered at the Cascade Resort in Lagos, is not governed by the new directive.
Jerry Cobb, the chief executive of The Fractional Ownership Consultancy, told The Resident: “We have been advised that we do not fall into timeshare regulation, although we do adhere to constraints and customer policies. What we are selling is bricks and mortar, not time, although we have split the share into time for practical reasons.”
If you would like any further information about the new directive please visit www.europarl.europa.eu and search with key word “timeshare”.
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