If you signed up for a timeshare during its peak, the sales pitch likely made it seem like paradise. But as financial or family issues emerge, your little piece of vacation paradise may feel less than heavenly. Or, perhaps you simply haven’t used it as often as planned and find yourself paying ever-increasing annual maintenance fees that you never expected. Whatever the reason, you might be looking for a way out of your timeshare. But with a saturated market, it can be difficult to know where to turn and who to trust.
That’s why it’s critical to understand the differences between resale firms, which claim they can sell your timeshare, and relief companies, which promise to release you from your contract and maintenance fees. Some do what they say (Corinne Adams, a former timeshare owner, found a company that got her out of her timeshare last year), but others are nothing more than scams. And, unlike legitimate resale companies, many of these companies are not licensed attorneys or regulated by any state agency.
According to BBB, more than 700 consumers have filed complaints against Springfield-area Timeshare Relief companies in recent years. Some have paid anywhere from $1,000 to more than $30,000 to businesses that claimed to remove timeshare owners from their unwanted or unprofitable ownership agreements.
These companies often operate in one of two forms: those that help developers replenish their inventories of timeshare interests and those that attempt to transfer an ownership interest away from an existing owner, usually when there are no mortgage or maintenance fee liens on the property. This latter category of companies may use creative and questionable strategies such as creating new business entities, corporations or LLCs solely for the purpose of taking title to an ownership interest or, in the case of timeshares that do not include a deed, sending a letter to the resort resigning from membership.
It is important to note that if you do not pay your mortgage and maintenance fees, it will appear on your credit report and affect your credit score. Also, if you are caught in non-payment, your lender or property owners association may file a foreclosure or lien against the property.
Those seeking to break free of their timeshare contracts are encouraged to contact a reputable company that is licensed, insured and regulated by the state. The firm should have a team of experienced attorneys and support staff including paralegals and legal assistants. In addition, a company should explain the process in detail and provide a written fee agreement upfront. This will protect the consumer from being overcharged and ensure that they receive the service for which they are paying. Lastly, the company should offer a money back guarantee if the services are not provided in full or on time. This will give the consumer peace of mind and confidence that they are working with a reputable company.