Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, last week we started the series Timeshare Contracts: Held to Ransom, where we highlighted one timeshare companies “exit” policy. The resort was Belton Woods Lodges Ltd and it is not what you could consider very fair. In fact, it is one of the most disgusting “exit” policies that we have ever seen. Today we highlight the policy of Diamond Resorts (Europe) which they have been running now for quite a few years. As for any news from the courts, today is yet another fiesta day in Spain so everything will be closed, so we will bring you the latest results later in the week.
One of the most common enquiries received by Inside Timeshare are from owners/members who have been contacted by “exit” companies, for whatever reason these owners/members just want out of their contracts and the liability of the annual maintenance fees. Most have no idea that their resorts may have an exit program where they can relinquish directly with the resort for either no payment, a fixed fee or the equivalent of up to 3 years maintenance payments.
In fact, the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation), has stated in the past that no timeshare company should ever charge more than 3 years maintenance fees to release a member from their contract. Unfortunately, this does not apply to non-members.
Diamond Resorts in Europe have the policy to allow members to relinquish under two criteria, one is “exceptional circumstances” and the other is for those that do not meet the requirements of “exceptional circumstances”.
So what is Diamond Resorts policy on “exceptional circumstances”?
Diamond will allow the owner/member to relinquish free of any charge as long as the maintenance fees are paid to date under the following criteria:
- Aged over 75;
- The death of one of the partners;
- Financial difficulties;
- Medical reasons.
The first one is straight forward, obviously, proof of age will be required as the death certificate will be for the second reason.
Financial difficulties, this is not as straightforward as you may think, Diamond, will require an independent and recognised income Vs expenditure report. This can be equated to the old “means test”, you must show all income and savings, it must also show all your expenditure, even down to your spending on cups of coffee!
There is one saving grace on this point, Diamond will accept reports prepared by the Citizens Advice Bureau, as they are a nationally recognised organisation. It is also free of charge.
Medical reasons, the main points this covers are obviously terminal illness and being unable to travel. Diamond will require all medical information from your doctor or consultant. Now one of the sticking points here is being unable to travel.
Inside Timeshare has in the past had readers who have applied for relinquishment under this section and have been denied. The reason is that they were just unable to travel abroad due to their health, but, they could still use their timeshare membership at the resorts in their own country.
But as we have stated they do require full medical details, so just like financial you are laying open all your personal information. Somehow that just doesn’t seem right.
If you do not fall into the above categories, then you have the option to relinquish your timeshare by paying two years maintenance, this is as long as your maintenance is paid to date and there are no arrears.
Remember that when you do relinquish your membership, you will not get any money back, you will also be signing away your rights to take legal action in the future if your contract was actually illegal.
Many of the “exit” companies that we have seen in the past basically just take your money, tell you not to pay the maintenance and that when you receive demands to just send them to the “exit” company and to ignore them. Eventually, usually, three years down the line, the company you paid is gone and you find that you are now still liable for the maintenance and the timeshare company has sold a debt to a collecting agency. This may result in CCJ’s being issued by the County Courts for your breach of contract.
So the question is, do you pay an exit company or go directly to your own timeshare company?
The choice is yours, but Inside Timeshare always recommends that you approach your resort first, then if you do not have any luck, that is the time to look at proper legal help. Although the warning is to be very careful who you deal with if you take this option, not all exit companies are genuine and actually do the work paid for.
Yes, this is a minefield, there are new companies emerging every week offering this service, after all, it is very lucrative, just look at the Mark Rowe companies. Every single client who paid them (anything from £4,500 to £10,000) still has not got rid of their timeshare, all are still liable for their maintenance, with all his companies in liquidation.
If you have any questions on this subject or any article published, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.