When you think about popular timeshare destinations, Florida probably comes to mind. Whether it’s a Disney World resort in Orlando, a beach-side condo in the Keys, or a nightlife-adjacent villa in Miami, the state of Florida has a monumental presence in the timeshare industry. With the wide range of timeshare options in the sunshine state, you’d think that Florida timeshare law is set up to protect the rights of their current and potential timeshare owners.
Unfortunately, there are not many Florida statutes in place to protect buyers against scams and deception during the sales process. Just like in any other timeshare-selling state, potential buyers are frequently victims of high-pressure and fraudulent sales tactics. But since there are so many people who buy and sell timeshares in the state, Floridian timeshare victims have been banning together to change the way these properties are sold in order to prevent regretful timeshare purchases.
Here is a rundown of a new proposed Florida timeshare law and how it’s going to affect those who own timeshares in the state.
So why is it so important for there to be specific Florida timeshare laws? A huge part of it are the numbers. According to The Capitolist, one-third of all the timeshare properties in the United States are in Florida. In fact, the state has over 350 timeshare resorts. So what is it that attracts so many people to buying real estate or timeshare properties in the sunshine state?
Florida has something to offer for people of all ages. For the older generations, Florida‘s year-round sunny weather, slow pace of life, and high retiree population make it a relaxing location for a week-long getaway. For young professionals with established careers and no children, the lively beach scenes of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Daytona Beach provide an exciting escape from the stresses of work. For families, any resort with access to the multitude of theme parks in Orlando sells itself.
It’s easy to see why people would want to own a timeshare in Florida. The diverse array of tourist attractions, natural landscapes, and beautiful beaches appeal to many demographics of vacation goers. Unfortunately, major timeshare developers and their salespeople are aware of this and use it to manipulate potential buyers.
Floridians have had their fair share of grueling, manipulative, and downright traumatic timeshare experiences. In fact, 74% of people from a survey taken by Florida Alliance for Consumers and Taxpayers (FACT) agreed that their timeshare sales presentation was wrought with aggressive sales tactics, deception, and inadequate time to make a responsible decision about buying a timeshare.
The main concern of those surveyed was that timeshare companies did not give them enough time to deliberate their timeshare plans and determine if buying was a smart decision for their lifestyle and finances. Instead, salespeople would distract them with free breakfasts, long slideshows of beautiful resorts, tours of extravagant units, and propaganda about how owning a timeshare would dramatically improve their life. By the end of the presentation, these salespeople would not allow them to escape until they’d signed a timeshare contract.
This almost hostage-like situation was a common thread among those surveyed, and unfortunately, certain populations were even more vulnerable to it. Timeshare companies and vacation clubs in Florida often target seniors and veterans who may not have the resources, knowledge, or financial means to understand the weight of owning a timeshare.
Developers seem to prey on their vulnerability to boost sales, knowing that if they don’t put pressure on people to make an instant decision about buying a timeshare, they are less likely to follow through on the purchase. This “buy now” sales strategy has worked for decades, but Floridians are finally developing state laws to prevent it from ruining the lives of buyers.
Legislators are proposing a new Florida law that would allow consumers a full calendar day to sign their timeshare contracts. So rather than being pressured to sign a purchase contract during the timeshare presentation itself, prospective buyers would get a full 24 hours to decide if timeshare ownership is for them.
This law is being pushed by consumer protection advocates like FACT — the Florida Alliance for Consumers and Taxpayers — who surveyed a group of timeshare owners and non-owners alike to see how they felt about adapting a 24-hour cooling off period. The result was 93% of people who had experience with timeshare presentations and 82% of all Floridians were in favor.
The main concern of people in support of the law, which is being taken to the 2022 legislative session, is that the vast majority of people who engage in timeshare presentations do so while on vacation. Their leisurely state of mind combined with the intense pressure from timeshare salespeople often leads them to impulsively sign a timeshare contact. Most people agree that giving consumers 24 hours to decide would allow them to assess the potential purchase, read the long and confusing contract, and objectively decide if it’s a good idea for them.
It’s important to note that this 24-hour period of time is not the same as a rescission period. Rescission is a multi-day cancellation period, usually 3-10 days from the execution date, where consumers who’ve signed a timeshare contract are given cancellation rights to terminate ownership. Once they’ve made this decision by contacting their developers phone number or email, timeshare cancellation will be deemed official, and they will receive a full refund.
Rescission periods were originally put into place to give new timeshare buyers time to decide if ownership was really for them. The problem with this is that buyers were rarely made aware of the rescission period during the timeshare sales process. By the time they decided they no longer wanted to cancel, the notice of cancellation period was up. They already had a cleared check with their deposit money and a lifetime of maintenance fees and special assessments to worry about.
When buyers are given a description of the timeshare, any disclaimer about the rescission period is usually hidden deep within their contracts. Salespeople rarely discuss rescission because they don’t want buyers to cancel their purchase. Lawmakers in Florida know that many timeshare buyers fall victim to this and end up in a timeshare purchase they regret.
These buyers then have to pursue timeshare resale, foreclosure, or deal with a lifetime of expensive maintenance fees. The hope is that this new Florida timeshare law will help people avoid an unwanted timeshare purchase and make a decision about owning a timeshare before they put any money down.
Florida is home to a third of all timeshares within the United States. So why aren’t there more timeshare laws in place to protect prospective buyers? Luckily, times are changing and a new Florida timeshare law could change the industry completely.
The law will allow consumers a full 24-hour period to sign their contract. And this isn’t just a glorified rescission period. This cool-down period would stop consumers from making rash decisions about big purchases before they are in escrow for a new timeshare.
Unfortunately, this law is not in place yet, and many people have already fallen for the trap of timeshare contracts. If this is the case and you are past your rescission period for cancellation, you’re probably stressing about the total amount you’ll have to pay over the lifetime of timeshare ownership. But don’t worry, Centerstone Group may be able to help.
Centerstone Group is a full-service advocacy group that specializes in resolving timeshare contracts. If your timeshare company used fraud, high-pressure sales tactics, or misrepresentation during the sales process, you may be eligible for our services. Contact us for a free consultation.