Defenses to the Enforcement of Timeshare Contracts
Understand your timeshare contract obligations, the hidden language, and the defenses that may get you out of your agreement.
We are often asked by clients and potential clients what, if any, legal basis exists whereby they can get out of their timeshare obligation. It's a fair question. After all, there's a signed contract, which appears to be binding, even though the terms may be a bit different than what you expected.
Here's a laundry list of potential defenses:
1. Fraud in the inducement: This occurs when you reasonably rely on one or more false statements material to the sale in closing the transaction. It's perhaps the most common complaint of all. The salesmen promises you the sun, the moon and the stars and you wind up in a Days Inn. This kind of deception 'trumps' whatever disclaimers that the developer puts in the fine print of the contract.
2. Incapacity: This defense relates to persons, who, for whatever reason, were mentally impaired at the time of the sale. You would be surprised how many people sign off on timeshare obligations while intoxicated, particularly at Latin American and Caribbean resorts. Clients with Alzheimer's or other mentally crippling diseases may also qualify for this defense.
3. Duress: This actually happens. It describes a situation during which undue pressure or threats are brought to bear upon the customer, such as the refusal to provide transportation away from the sales site.
4. Failure of consideration: The timeshare interest acquired is so utterly unlike that described in the sales documents that it cannot be said to conform to the reasonable expectations of the buyer. Perhaps you bought into a particular resort or resorts that you cannot access because you are told that you didn't purchase enough 'points'.
5. Mutual mistake: The timeshare interest acquired is not the same as that described in the sales contract. This may apply to a transaction in which you received a deed to a nonexistent unit. Our office has actually seen this occur.
6. Impossibility: Some extenuating circumstances prevent your ability access to the timeshare. We've seen this as well, when for example the timeshare resort describe in the deed is never constructed.
7. Illegality: The timeshare contract is unenforceable because it runs afoul of some criminal statute, most often usury. Look closely at the interest rate combined with other transactional charges to determine the sum total of the amount actually financed.
The foregoing list of defenses is not necessarily exhaustive, and every situation is unique. But if one or more of these seem to apply to your case, they may be used as a basis to rescind or cancel your timeshare obligation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Austin Aaronson
Austin N. Aaronson, Esq., has over twenty-five years in representing clients in contract related disputes, including timeshare cases. He has the highest ethical rating through Martindale-Hubbellİ. A portion of his practice is dedicated exclusively to the process described above, with staff members who devote all of their professional time to this endeavor. In this fashion, we have achieved economies of scale allowing for efficient and cost effective representation intended to maximize your chances for favorable results.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.