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You receive a postcard in the mail: Free 3 night stay! The catch: attending a 90-minute presentation from a timeshare company.
You take the deal, figuring you’ll be able to resist the hard-sell tactics. Then the package sounds like a good deal. After all, timeshares represent an $8 billion industry , so there must be something to it.
To get the best deal, you have to act now. So you sign on the dotted line, and now you’re a timeshare owner.
If this scenario sounds familiar to you, you may find yourself wondering how to get out of a timeshare contract. While it is not always an easy process, it can be done. Here’s what you need to know.
Understanding the Terms of Your Timeshare
Before you can figure out how to get out of a timeshare contract, you need to understand what your contract entails. By definition , a contract is a legal agreement between two private parties where each party takes on specific obligations. To get out of a contract, the other party must agree to release you from the obligations you agreed to.
The Cancellation Period
If you only just signed a timeshare contract recently, there may still be time to cancel. In most states, the cancellation period for a timeshare is 3 to 7 days. During this period, a consumer can cancel the timeshare they just bought, obtain a full refund, and become completely free of any contractual obligations.
The terms of this cancellation period should be outlined in your timeshare contract. Keep in mind that these are usually calendar days, not business days, so you must act quickly to take advantage of it.
What if I’m Past Cancellation?
In most cases, by the time a consumer has realized that they need to figure out how to get out of a timeshare contract, the cancellation period has already passed. If this is the case, you’ll want to take a closer look at the contract to see what you own and what your responsibilities are.
First, you’ll want to see whether your timeshare is leased or deeded. If it is deeded, then you technically own a piece of vacation real estate that you could transfer to a different owner–we’ll get to this later.
With a leased timeshare, you are not the sole contractual owner, so you don’t really own anything. Unfortunately, you are still obligated to pay annual maintenance and assessment fees, even if you never use your accumulated points.
In some cases, your contract may be for a set number of years, after which point you will be free of your obligation. In other cases, the timeshare is life-long, and can even be left to someone in your will.
Can I Sell My Timeshare?
In any timeshare presentation, the salesperson typically stresses that, with a timeshare, you can “own” your vacation. The appeal is that, as with any other property, you are making an investment that will increase in value.
Of course, if you do, in fact, “own” your vacation, you would likely assume that you are free to sell it as well. After all, you can sell your house or your car, so why not sell your timeshare ? Unfortunately, the way timeshares are structured makes it much more difficult to sell a timeshare than to sell a traditional piece of property.
For instance, you may have heard of timeshare owners who sell their packages for as little as $1 on Ebay just to get out of the financial obligation. Depending on the terms of your contract, the resorts associated with the timeshare will not recognize this transfer. The new “owner” would not be able to use the timeshare at all.
Additionally, some companies have formed with the exclusive purpose of helping people sell unwanted timeshares. But these companies are often scams, requiring hefty fees upfront and never delivering on the promises they made.
Can I Rent Out My Timeshare?
Another option many timeshare owners consider is renting out the weeks on their timeshare. By charging others to use their vacation, they can at least cover some of the fees associated with the package.
Again, there are a few problems with this strategy. For one, if you are renting out the weeks in your timeshare, you are still contractually obligated without being able to actually take advantage of the travel opportunities.
Not to mention, it’s difficult to rent out a timeshare at all. Timeshares are notoriously difficult to schedule, so it’s challenging to be able to market your vacation to a third party.
For these reasons, you’re unlikely to make any profit by renting your timeshare. At best, you’ll break even, and you may even end up in the negative.
Can I Donate My Timeshare?
Another creative solution that folks looking for how to get out of a timeshare contract have come up with is donating their timeshare. Give your vacation so a family battling illness can enjoy a getaway, and write off your obligation on your taxes. What could be better?
Unfortunately, donating your timeshare is not really possible, and organizations that suggest that it is might be misleading you. This is because charitable organizations are restricted in their abilities to take on debt obligations.
What Can I Do?
If you want to get out of a timeshare and you’re past the cancellation period, what can you do? It all comes back to the contract. By working with a consumer advocate group like PMG, you can negotiate a release of your contractual obligations, and finally be free.
Learn More About How to Get Out of a Timeshare Contract Today
While figuring out how to get out of a timeshare contract can be challenging, in the end, it is worth it. You will have peace of mind and will be able to allocate your hard-earned money directly to vacations, rather than covering maintenance fees.
If you’re ready to get out of a timeshare contract, contact us to get a free consultation today. Our experts will work with you to get the freedom you’re seeking.