Michael L. Feinstein, P.A.

Are you a prisoner of your timeshare contract?

It seems like a good idea. You buy a share in a vacation property in an exciting location, and you have a beautiful place reserved for you each year. Splitting the cost with other people makes the ownership of an exotic vacation home more affordable than buying a property you may only visit once a year.

You chose your week, put down your money and signed the contract. However, as exciting as it seemed in the beginning, the timeshare idea isn't working out for you now. You are not alone. Many people who invest in timeshares end up trying to get out of their contracts. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.

Getting out if it

Maybe you discovered you just didn't care for the location, or perhaps you regret spending so much on the property. Perhaps you have gone through a major life change, such as widowhood or divorce, and keeping the timeshare is no longer practical. The problem is that timeshares are notoriously difficult to get out of. Many timeshare contracts contain "perpetuity clauses," which means once you buy a timeshare, it is yours for life. That may mean paying thousands in annual maintenance fees for a property you don't use anymore.

For many, getting out of a timeshare contract means months of haggling and bargaining with the timeshare company to no avail. You may even threaten to stop paying the maintenance fees your contract requires. While some have had success with this tactic, it can be risky. You may end up facing a lawsuit for breach of contract, and the timeshare company may report you to the credit agencies. Other options for getting out of a timeshare include the following:

  • Try to sell the timeshare yourself, but understand that you will not likely get what you paid for it, and you can only sell it if you have paid it off.
  • Ask the timeshare company to buy it back although this seldom works.
  • Offer to give the timeshare back to the company if you are prepared to take a huge loss.

You may be tempted to use the services of a company that offers to get you out of your timeshare contract. Use caution because many of these companies are scams, and others may cost you money with poor results. Having an attorney work with you may prove helpful. The laws in each state can be very different, so it is wise to obtain the legal counsel of someone who is very familiar with Florida's timeshare laws.

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