The new Directive, replacing the current Timeshare Directive, is to be implemented into national law by all European Union Member States by 23rd February 2011. This law also covers timeshare exchange, fractional ownership, resale and holiday clubs.
As part of the implementation process in the UK, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) issued a consultation paper in July and recently indicated that the industry ‘responded well’ to this Government consultation, which closed in October. The regulations have now been laid before Parliament and are to come into force on 23rd February.
BIS has issued the following note on the regulations in the UK:
The new Directive will now cover all those businesses that sell holiday products with a similar allure to timeshare but weren’t covered by the original Timeshare Directive because they didn’t exist at the time, including Holiday Clubs. The new Directive also covers timeshare resale agents and exchange systems. And while the new Directive will have plenty of extra consumer benefits, the increasing confidence that consumers will have in the industry as a whole should boost sales, whilst removing rogue traders that bring the industry into disrepute and operate unfairly in competition with legitimate traders.
- Long-Term Holiday Products, also known as Holiday Clubs cause by far the most consumer detriment in this sector and are covered by regulations for the first time.
- Timeshare coverage is extended to any overnight accommodation, which includes, for example, timeshare in caravans and boats and rights to access accommodation in a pool of accommodation.
- Timeshare Resale is an area rife with operators who seek payment up-front on the bogus promise of a sale. This is covered by regulations for the first time.
- Timeshare Exchange is covered for the first time and important pre-contractual information, such as any restrictions on the choice offered under the exchange scheme, must be provided.
Importantly, the new Regulations will replace the current regime in the UK entirely, which will make the legal position for all parties – consumers, traders, and enforcers – much easier to understand. Not only that, but as the Directive is a ‘maximum harmonisation’ directive, this means that the same obligations on business apply across the whole of the European Union.
Companies that sell timeshare products or holiday clubs, resale services or exchange systems must now consider how to implement the new business regulations.
Guidance for business are attached below, but can also be found on the BIS web site at: