Aron Solomon: Can You Legally Get Out of Your Timeshare?

An increasingly popular ad today on streaming services such as Sirius XM is for groups claiming they can get you out of your timeshare. One of the ads that runs over and over again is for Wesley Financial Group. In their ads, the person who seems to be their founder, explains that he worked on the other side – with large timeshare companies – so he understands exactly what to do to get you out of your timeshare obligation.

Wesley Financial Group’s website claims “Since 2011 we have canceled over 15,000 timeshares and eliminated over $200,000,000 in timeshare mortgage debt. If you were misled into owning timeshare, we may be able to help.” Of course, on their radio ads, they don’t mention anything about needing to have been misled to get out of your contract, they simply make it appear that getting out of a timeshare agreement is easy with their help.

On the site but not on their ads, they also say that they only work “with specific clients we know we can help. We have to turn away over 40 percent of people who reach out to us if we don’t think we can be of assistance.” For their services, Wesley Financial Group generally charges between $4,000-$7,000, which in itself is a pretty decent business.

All hyperbole aside, from a legal perspective, it’s not easy to cancel a timeshare. What you can and can’t do regarding your timeshare is governed primarily by state rather than federal law.

Given what is often a very high-pressure set of sales tactics, many states allow for a consumer-friendly cooling-off period. In other words, you have a certain number of days (often 5-7, though the full range is around 3-14 days) to get out of the timeshare contract you just entered into.

After this cooling-off period, legally known as the rescission period, things become more complicated from a contractual point of view. Generally, once the rescission period has ended, you’re bound to the contract. In some jurisdictions you might have a set period of time where you can bring a suit if there is an issue with the contract itself or the public offering.

Given that timeshare contract are not easy to get out of, Paul Lagnese, a Pittsburgh lawyer, advises that you need to be fully prepared before you even visit a timeshare.

“People even considering a timeshare purchase need to go in with their eyes wide open and well aware of the law of their home state and the jurisdiction in which they are buying their timeshare. It’s worth contacting an attorney – before you buy – who can walk you through some of the contractual terms that could trip you up,” Lagnese said.

If you do exercise all of your options and find yourself between a rock and the hard place that is your timeshare, another way to get out of a timeshare contract – and it’s an imperfect one to be sure – is to simply stop paying. Sure, you’ll be breaking a legally-binding contract and there will absolutely be repercussions, but this option is one that many people are forced to take when they can no longer make payments on their timeshare. This is obviously an option that should be pursued only after you’ve tried everything else at your disposal, including renting out the timeshare, trying to have friends or family take over the payments, getting a loan or some kind of bridge financing to get you through a rough period, or trying to sell the timeshare yourself or with the help of a realtor or timeshare reselling group.

Finally, there are organizations out there that, for a fee, can provide services that would be beneficial to anyone looking to get out of their timeshare obligation. These sites have features such as a user group in which not only common timeshare themes are discussed but also specifics relating to your exact timeshare if you purchased from one of the larger groups. This can be very useful in a practical sense, but also for your peace of mind as you navigate what is, for you, uncharted waters.

There is no doubt that to someone stuck in a timeshare contract who is unable to or simply doesn’t want to pay, these radio commercials are compelling. While having a timeshare industry insider who supposedly knows all of the tips timeshare sellers use on your side rather than theirs sounds good, ultimately, the law is the law. You might be better served in the long run by speaking with a lawyer or advocacy group, both of which should be far less expensive than paying this insider fee.

 

Aron Solomon, JD, is the Head of Strategy for Esquire Digital and the Editor of Today’s Esquire. He has taught entrepreneurship at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania, and was the founder of LegalX, the world’s first legal technology accelerator. Aron’s work has been featured in TechCrunch, Fortune, Venture Beat, The Independent, TechCrunch Japan, Yahoo!, ABA Journal, Law.com, The Boston Globe, The Hill, and many other leading publications around the world. 

 

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