Experienced Timeshare Attorneys Explain How to Cancel a Timeshare
This is, after all, the $64,000 question – the essence of what this office is all about. These steps are not the ‘proprietary’ version, but a generic rendition of what can be done in the interest of extricating you from a difficult situation.
First, let’s start with what not to do:
1. Don’t try to sell it through some third party. Any one telling you that he or she can ‘sell’ your timeshare is almost invariably a scammer. They are not licensed Realtor’s, who work on a commission basis, and will always ask for substantial money ‘up front.’ They will then purport to guarantee a sale, often to someone already identified with a name like William Smith, or the like, who could be anyone. You would be better off investing your money at the local kennel club. At least there would be some chance for a return.
2. Never, ever, hire any non-lawyer to do the job. A non-lawyer is, by definition, a lay person when it comes to representing you in an area involving legal ramifications. He or she lacks the ability to create leverage in negotiating a cancellation. That is to say, a lay person cannot sue the timeshare developer on your behalf. If the proposal to rescind your timeshare has no teeth to it, it’s just that – a proposal – a request, in essence, and a feeble one at that. Almost invariably, these people will take your money – all of it – up front, ‘guaranteeing’ a rescission, and you’ll not hear from them again, at least not in any fashion that can result in a release of liability. They may purport to deed your property to another, and perhaps even the developer itself, but this does not release you of liability on any instrument of debt that you undoubtedly signed.
Now that we’ve got that straight, let’s discuss how to cancel a timeshare properly.
1. Create leverage. We’ve already told you that you need this. If the developer does not cooperate, it has to know that there are potential consequences. A licensed attorney will have the ability to sue on your behalf. Sometimes it is even a good idea to draft a civil lawsuit, serve it on the developer, assuring that you will file it if a reasonable response is not forthcoming. There are any number of things that the developer’s reps may have done wrong in the sales process, including but not limited to fraud in the inducement, which generally cannot be waived contractually. These are legal nuances that a competent attorney is able to address.
2. Be civil. It is better to use the stick and the carrot. There are often compelling, equitable reasons why cancellation of a timeshare is appropriate. Medical or financial hardship are usually the most compelling grounds. Understand that you are dealing with real people, after all, and they deserve to be treated with respect. Often lawyers threaten with fire and brimstone. This can be counterproductive, creating a circle-the-wagons mentality, and resulting in a backlash by management who resolve to dig in and fight to the end. A more nuanced approach involving a discussion of extenuating circumstances making it difficult or impossible for you to access your timeshare and enjoy it as expected, is generally better.
3. Know the lay of the land. It is beneficial to have a feel for the policies and preferences of a given developer. Know the criteria that they use to evaluate the case. Do they require a pay off? Is there an administrative charge? Is there a specific point of contact there with whom you can hold a more meaningful dialogue? These are just some of the factors that come into play.
4. Be prepared to back up your demands. If a given developer is not cooperative or reasonable in dealing with the issues, you must be prepared and willing to initiate a lawsuit. We can often litigate your case more cost effectively because we have many clients with similar, recurrent issues. This ‘economy’ of scale means less time and money on any given issue, as it has generally been briefed and addressed in the same or previous cases.
5. Protect your credit. This is perhaps the single most important aspect of any given case. Federal law provides for specific ways in which you can invoke credit protection legislation, involving communication with the major credit bureaus to neutralize any negative reporting while your dispute is pending.
Please call us free of charge if you would like to learn more about how to cancel a timeshare and further discuss ways in which we can help you with your timeshare issues.