Understanding Timeshare Contracts

It isn’t hard to see why so many people get roped into buying timeshare properties. They are lured into sales presentations by fast-talking sales representatives who promise them free gifts or accommodations for their time. Some people are able to stick to their guns, but many others find themselves falling victim to these sales tactics and walk away from the meeting with a shiny new timeshare. But what does being a timeshare owner mean and what does your contract say?

What You Need to Know

The type of timeshare you have purchased has a large effect on the terms of your timeshare contract and what your responsibilities are as an owner. For example, a right to use (RTU) timeshare means that you are allowed to use a timeshare property during a predetermined amount of time (usually 1 week per year, but this can go up or down depending on your property and agreement). You don’t own the property or any part of it and are essentially renting that time. Sometimes you can exchange your week for other times and locations, but again this also depends on the property and developer or property management company. Oftentimes these timeshare contracts have an expiration date at which time you can renew or opt out of the contract.

However, the other common type of timeshare—the deeded timeshare—operates a little bit differently. Like right-to-use timeshares, you are allowed access to the unit during a predetermined date and time each year. You may also be able to exchange time and resorts as part of special programs, but unlike RTU properties, you own this timeshare like you own a house or a car. Ownership is usually split between you and 51 other owners and you have an actual deed to this property. This means that you are fiscally responsible for this property until you transfer it out of your name, either through selling it or giving it away.

What You Can Do

Regardless of which kind of timeshare contract you have, you have to pay for the upkeep and management of the property until your contract is cancelled. Failing to do so can result in damaging foreclosure—the same as if you owned a house. This is why it is particularly important to understand the terms of your contract and what kind of timeshare you own before you make any agreements. Have a legal advisor take a look at it if you get confused, and be confident that you can afford this property, especially if you are receiving a deed.

Timeshares can be a great way for families to enjoy hassle-free vacations at favorite locations, but not fully understanding the responsibility you are taking on can create a wealth of problems for timeshare owners later on.

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