ARDA and ARDA-ROC Receive Clarification for Legacy Resort Owners

2019-02-08

Issue Brief

Fraudulent and deceptive trade practices in the Timeshare Exit Industry are causing substantial harm to timeshare owners. These companies will solicit anywhere between $3-12k in upfront fees for their services and guarantee a near 100% success rate in getting timeshare owners discharged from their contracts and the accompanying financial obligations of ownership. These promises are typically false because the company has no authority or capability to deliver on the guarantees or promises they offer. Their methods are not publicly disclosed, and many times claim to be proprietary and unique to each case. Owners are frequently instructed to stop making their mortgage payments and are never informed of the substantial harm to their credit that will result. It is often 12-18 months later when the unsuspecting owner finds out that no work has been done on their behalf by the timeshare exit company, they have been foreclosed on and a default has been reported to the credit reporting agencies. This result is regularly considered a success by the exit company contractually allowing them to keep all upfront fees that were collected. Additionally, timeshare associations and their members may become saddled with the unpaid dues and the cost of recovering the interest. HB 435 is modeled on provisions that were enacted to address similar harms caused by mortgage assistance relief service companies during the height of the recession in 2009 and seeks to offer similar protections to timeshare owners.


HB 435 provides the following protections for timeshare owners engaging with third party exit companies:

• Defines what constitutes timeshare exit assistance or relief services, and clearly identifies and prohibits Timeshare Exit Industry practices that are harmful to consumers
• Requires written agreements prior to performing the promised exit services, the delivery of important information to the consumer prior to entering into any agreement and provides consumers with a meaningful cancellation right.
• Protects consumer funds by prohibiting advance payment or requiring escrow of such funds until promised services are completed.
• Prohibits false and misleading representations used to recruit consumers to engage an exit company
 

 

Impact

ROC strongly supports HB 435 as important common-sense protections for timeshare owners who choose to seek 3rd party help to end their timeshare ownership. Timeshare exit companies often provide 100% money back guarantees with no mechanism to ensure those funds are protected. Recently, there have been several companies in this industry that have gone out of business and left owners high and dry, still owning their timeshares with no hope of recovering the fees they paid to the companies. Additionally, when owners choose to engage these services the disclosures will allow them to know exactly what they are getting into and the accompanying risks involved.

 

Position/Call to Action

 

ARDA-ROC continuously works to introduce or pass pro-consumer legislation that protects owners from falling victim to scams.  

 

Issue Updates

 

January 30, 2019 – HB 435 referred to Business and Professions Subcommittee; Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee; Commerce Committee

 

Resolution