Once again Tony Hetherington has highlighted the problem of timeshare ownership and the never ending membership. His article in MailOnline published 12 November (see link at the end for the full article), is the story of an elderly couple being hounded for £3,010 maintenance fees.
This couple are 80 years of age, they purchased their timeshare in 1993, this is now controlled by Cameron House Owners Club. Apparently they have been asking to sell since 2004, all maintenance fees had been paid upto 2012, when they returned their ownership certificates.
They have serious medical conditions and are unable to use the timeshare, they are also on limited pensions, so are unable to afford the ongoing costs. They are now being threatened with debt collectors if they do not pay.
Sounds a very familiar story, Inside Timeshare has been highlighting these types of cases for some time, especially those involving MacDonald Resorts, remember the case of Mrs B, which has still not been resolved even after nearly 2 years.
Mrs B and her sister are both in their 80’s not in good health and believed that their timeshare at Dona Lola Club in Spain had been transferred to a third party. Inside Timeshare has the notarised document that shows this to be the case. MacDonald’s refuse to accept this and are hounding them for around 3 years maintenance which they cannot afford to pay. Again the debt collectors have been sent in.
In Spain these “perpetuity” contracts have been illegal since 4 January 1999, when Ley 42/98 was enacted. Under this law contracts must be for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years. Many contracts for timeshares that have been sold since then which exceed the 50 year maximum are being declared null & void, with all the purchase price being returned. This law has been enforced by 69 Supreme Court rulings which all Spanish courts must abide by.
Timeshares such as MacDonalds and Cameron House use the perpetuity clause to lock in owners for ever, it also becomes part of their estate which is then the responsibility of whoever inherits the timeshare to continue to pay the maintenance. It doesn’t end there, it then becomes part of their estate, as so on it goes.
So as Tony Hetherington puts it “Even death does not bring an end to the bills. It could claim against your estate, blocking bequests to family, friends or charities, while it pockets annual fees for a timeshare that will stand unused”.
Some timeshare companies do have exit policies, Diamond for instance would have allowed this couple out free of charge under their exceptional circumstances programme, which this couple would clearly fall into.
MacDonald Resorts which has a very poor reputation on this matter, usually charges 4 years maintenance for release, but this is only offered every two years and is limited to participants on a first come first served basis.
These perpetuity contracts and the behaviour of these timeshare operators is totally unfair, at least Spain has addressed the problem, it is time for the Scottish and English law makers to address this and bring in the laws such as Spain to limit the duration of contracts and enforce reasonable exit programs. The industry cannot be trusted to do it themselves, until this is done we will be seeing many more cases such as this couple and Mrs B.
Follow the links below to Tony Hetheringtons’ latest article and his previous article from July 2014, the next two links are articles relating to Mrs B.
If you have any questions or concerns about similar circumstances, or have purchased in Spain and would like to know if you are eligible to claim, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.
If you have been contacted by any company or are thinking of dealing with a company regarding claims or relinquishment and want to know if they are genuine, Inside Timeshare will help you find the information.