There has recently been increasing media speculation and comment over timeshare owners’ ability to exit their timeshare as they grow older and can no longer enjoy their holidays.
The timeshare trade body, RDO (Resort Development Organisation) and the timeshare owners association, TATOC (The Association of Timeshare Owners Committees) have been working closely over the last two years to find solutions for owners who have an urgent need to dispose of their timeshare. At the outset, both organisations were mindful of the fact that the recession has taken its toll and that there was in part an ageing demographic amongst some owner bases: this was an area that the industry and owner run resorts needed to address.
Many RDO members already did but by the end of 2012, all RDO members were required to have some form of an exit programme* in place, and, additionally, any deserving cases – for example due to ill health or old age – had to be dealt with swiftly and sympathetically. Going one step further, the RDO Board has since required members to allow exit in the case of the death of an owner whose spouse or family does not wish to keep the timeshare and also in the event of the personal bankruptcy of an owner.
At the start of this year and as part of its ongoing policy to protect owners, the Board approved a policy that requires members to register weeks taken in as trade-ins in their own name, thereby ensuring the owner is not left liable for payment of the maintenance fees.
This programme of self-regulation is proving to be highly effective and RDO has called for companies not in membership to follow its example and adopt similar schemes that protect the interests of owners. The vast majority of owners have been extremely happy with their timeshare(s) over the years and, with complaints against RDO members now at a minimum, it is still an extremely popular way of taking holidays.
Contrary to some of the media coverage, there are ways for consumers to dispose of their ownership and we would advise them in the first instance to contact their resort/developer for advice. In addition, many timeshare weeks are sold on the open market by RDO member resale companies and owners are also joining RDO member “exit clubs” in increasing numbers, these clubs allow owners to continue to enjoy their holidays, but exit form the club after a set period, with no further obligations.
Information on RDO members can be found on the website here.
* Exit route examples:
- Offering owners the option to move to a short-term product, which terminates after a set number of years
- Directing owners to an “exit club” which gives members the option to leave without penalty after a minimum of 2 to 5 years, depending on the club
- Directing owners to an RDO resort member
- Taking the week back, subject to certain conditions