One of the biggest criticisms of the timeshare industry is its use of ‘in perpetuity’ contracts, extremely long agreements which can be incredibly difficult to cancel, leaving many trapped into owning a timeshare which they can’t get rid of.
But what exactly does ‘in perpetuity’ mean? And is there any way out?
‘In Perpetuity’ essentially means that an agreement lasts forever, and will continue until the owner of the timeshare passes away.
The term means that the customer must cover all costs for their timeshare for the remainder of their life and in fact, in some cases, the agreement will even pass on to the owner’s next of kin.
While the price of the timeshare itself might not be too bad, the issue arises with the annual maintenance fees which owners are forced to pay (and which often increase every year).
This has led to instances of many unfortunate elderly owners in care homes being harassed for money, as well as relatives of deceased owners being chased to make payments.
Timeshare companies have been known to employ aggressive methods to get their maintenance fees, employing debt collectors to get their money, even in cases where the owners are too old or ill to even use their timeshare.
Recently, a Norwegian woman was awarded more than £28,000 when Spanish courts ruled that the ‘in perpetuity’ clause in her timeshare contract was illegal.
It was upheld because Spanish law states that any timeshare contract signed after 1998 cannot stand for longer than 50 years.
The timeshare company was ordered to refund all payments that had been made as well as interest and legal fees and you can read more about this case in this article from The Telegraph.
While this is a one-off case, it gives hope to others who are stuck in similar situations that they made be able to reach similar releases.
However, it’s important to know that each contract is different, and each has its own nuances, especially as different countries have different regulations.
We would recommend speaking to either the Citizens Advice Bureau or to a specialist in timeshare law such as the Timeshare Consumer Association if you feel like you may be in a timeshare which is unlawfully not allowing you to leave.
You certainly shouldn’t be afraid to pursue legal; action if you are trapped in an ‘in perpetuity’ contract, as the fact is that many timeshare companies will often drop the contract quite quickly once they realise they are being faced with legal action.
As you can see, ‘in perpetuity’ contracts are extremely unfair and unreasonable, and one of the main reasons that the timeshare has garnered such an unsavoury reputation.
However, there are definitely ways to challenge these clauses, and if you feel that you are in this situation, you should speak to the experts and aim to mount a legal challenge.
It can often be a lot easier than you’d think!