Owners of timeshare properties in Europe may now be looking at their options in light of the uncertainty around the effects of Brexit. Many may find that their timeshares no longer work for them with indefinite maintenance obligations, the fluctuation of the pound and the rising costs of holidaying in Europe. The good news is, there are options available for owners wishing to divest themselves of their timeshares.
The main type of timeshare contracts used in Europe only grant contractual rights to use holiday accommodation so no property rights exist.
A significant proportion of British timeshare owners own timeshares in Spain, and under Spanish timeshare law, these contracts are prohibited from having any of the following provisions:
(a) It cannot be more than 50 years or for an unlimited period
(b) it must identify the specific accommodation and dates when the purchaser has a right to use the property; and
(c) cannot require advance payment within the initial 14 day statutory "cooling off "period
If a timeshare contract is in breach of one or more of these provisions, a claim can be brought at any time before a Spanish Court. The Court can declare the contract null and void and award damages to the purchase for: amounts up to double the deposit paid; or double the full purchase price paid within three months of signing the contract; or a proportion of any maintenance fees paid during the entire period of ownership.
Other options available are dependent on the terms of the contract, most contracts have very limited rights to terminate on notice, It is worth approaching the timeshare operator to see if they have a genuine 'buy back' service or will allow early termination of the contract.
Since the 1980s, timeshares have commonly been sold as indefinite contracts with unspecified rights of use, and deposits were required to be paid immediately upon signature. A client who holds a timeshare contract subject to Spanish law (or potentially one which was either entered into in Spain or references a Spanish property) may be able to take advantage of a number of groundbreaking decisions made by the Spanish Supreme Court in 2015. These have held many Spanish timeshare contracts to be null and void.