Just as we were about to publish last Friday’s Letter from America, news came in from the Court of First Instance Number 3, Abona, Tenerife on the sentence made against Diamond Resorts Tenerife Sales SL.
In this case the court ruled on several infringements of the law 42/98, thus the court ruled that the contract was declared null and void with the client to receive a total of £44,790 which included double the deposit taken illegally on the day. (See PDF of sentence below)
The EU Timeshare Directive 2008/122/EC which supersedes previous one along with the Spanish law states that no deposit shall be taken within the 14 day cancellation period (cooling off) even by a third party.
It is also stipulated that the consumer must also be informed of this prohibition in writing, failure to do so along with other information required by law, extends the cooling off period to 90 days. The courts are penalising resorts by paying the consumer double the amount taken within that period.
We have seen some sales decks using the method of issuing a voucher for accomodation, or even moving the purchaser into the resort and stating the payment was for accomodation, the courts have determined that this is indeed a payment to a third party to secure the sale, so is classified as a deposit.
Up until January 1999 most contracts were in what is known as perpetuity, or never ending. It was thought that as the original concept of timeshare was looked at as property, perpetuity appeared to be good thing. The law makers decided that contracts should be for a minimum of 3 years with a maximum of 50 years.
The thinking behind this was simple, it was felt that it is inherently unfair to saddle the children of purchasers with an ongoing debt for maintenance on a contract they did not instigate or sign.
The idea of “floating weeks & points” systems was made illegal due to the fact that they lacked any substance. With the fixed week system each purchaser was given a specific week number and apartment number. This was then logged at the land registry, this also had the effect of stopping overselling and guaranteed the purchaser a specific week in a specific apartment.
With the floating weeks and points systems you own nothing apart from a right of use which is subject to availability. You became a member of a vacation club rather than an owner with specific rights.
The sales of these were not governed to the same extent, therefore the resort was able to double, triple or even quadruple its membership. In other words have more members than actual weeks available, so actually being able to get your preferred date became a lottery.
It also has the advantage of more income in regard to maintenance fees, so obviously more profit!
There are other laws which are also being used in bringing these cases, they range from Civil Consumer Laws, Mercantile law and Criminal Law. All this is to protect the consumer and regulate an industry that for many years did what it liked, believing it could not be touched.
See PDF’ below for the English & Spanish version of Law 42/98 and EU Directive 2008/122/EC
There are many companies springing up now who will tell you that you do have a claim, many will entice you with a “no win no fee” offer. But then in order to do this you must first pay for a cancellation, this will cost thousands and as many of our readers have since found out, their contracts have not been terminated.
At present the only country in Europe that is seeing cases going to court is Spain, so unless your purchase was in Spain after January 1999, with the main criteria as above, then you may not actually have a claim possible.
If you have been contacted or have found one of these companies on the internet, it is important that you do your homework and check them out thoroughly. If you need any help in doing this then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.