Timeshare legislation has changed over time.
The latest legislation in Portugal is as a result of European Timeshare Directive (2008/122/EC). This regulation actually regulates timeshare, long-term holiday products, resale, and exchange contracts.
The Portuguese law that implemented the European Directive was Decreto – Lei 37/2011 and came in on 10th March 2011.
The key points of the Portuguese law are;
Certain information needs to be given to you prior to the sale going through. This information needs to be given to you in your own language. If this is not done, then the contract is void
- Contracts must be in writing by a Public Deed and Registered in the Land Registry Office.
- The Land Registry issues the proper Certificate of Ownership
- There is a 14-day cooling off period
- Buyers must be informed of the cooling off period at the beginning
- Deposits cannot be taken at the point of sale or within the cooling off period
- If a timeshare contract is cancelled by the buyer, then all finance contracts associated with it are also cancelled
- The Timeshare must not be in perpetuity
Some Resorts have realised that they have a lot of owners who no longer want the Timeshare and who do not wish to pay the maintenance fees. Never slow to spot an opportunity some Resorts have decided that they can flip this problem on its head and turn it into an opportunity. Those Timeshare Resorts are now allowing people to exit from their ownership – providing that they pay large amounts of money up front.
From the resort’s point of view this is very clever.
Let us assume that an apartment is worth £200,000 and that they have 50 people owning a week each at the Resort.
Let us say that annual maintenance is £500 per week.
Typical exit costs to the Resort are around £5,000, which is around the same maintenance fees would be over 10 years. If they can persuade all 50 people to pay them £5,000 to exit the Timeshare, they will have made a sum of £250,000 and will have an apartment that is free of owners.
They can then do what they want with that apartment – including selling it. If they sell it they will make £200,000.
This means that they have turned a situation where the owners no longer want to own the weeks and don’t want to pay the maintenance into a situation where they have received the maintenance fees for 10 years up front and have a property free of owners, meaning that they can make £450,000 from the idea.
Multiply this by several apartments and you can see how the idea is quite attractive to the resort!
If you are going to go down this route you need to be absolutely sure that this is going to work and that there is no small print that you are not aware of, and which could cause you further problems.
I have been cold called by a Timeshare cancellation Company – should I be wary?
The Timeshare world is a murky one. One thing can look like another, and some companies spend an awful lot of time and money hiding their true identity or objectives. This is true not only for the timeshare resorts and sales companies but also the huge industry that has arisen around timeshare cancellation. There are many scams, fraudsters and criminals that occupy the timeshare cancellation industry and unfortunately innocent people are continually being targeted via cold calling. These companies are now even offering free Zoom/ Teams calls to people to give the impression of credibility. There is more information here;
What are the dangers of Timeshare internet Forums?
A quick warning about Timeshare Internet Forums.
There are a growing number of internet forums where people discuss how to get out of Timeshare. Many of these forums are genuine and independent. Unfortunately, some of these forums have been set up and are run by people looking to ways of scamming the readers or to discredit their competitors. Be careful about what you post and where unless you are sure you understand who is behind the forum—often there is an agenda. There is more information here.
In addition to this many of these forums are frequented by well-meaning people who are more than happy to pass on advice but who have no legal training at all. Often, they are passing on snippets of information that they have read somewhere, or opinions based on incorrect assumptions. We regularly see people who have followed advice given on such forums only to find that they have managed to get themselves into even more trouble than they were in the first place.
Make sure that if you are taking legal advice, it is from a lawyer who understands your issues and not from an anonymous name on a forum somewhere who has no legal training and who is passing on information based on bits of information and speculation. The consequences of getting this wrong can be enormous as the timeshare companies are ruthless and it is very easy to get things wrong when dealing with them.
The Timeshare Resorts and other companies are aware of this and are using some scare tactics to try and bully clients into some of the scams that are associated with getting out of a timeshare.
Can a Timeshare Resort pursue me in the UK if I do not pay my annual Timeshare fees in Portugal?
It is a common misconception that if the Timeshare Resort is based abroad or the contract is subject to the laws of a foreign country then the management company cannot come after you for the non-payment of maintenance fees.
Yes, there are rules as to where any litigation regarding debt collection has to take place. These may mean that you have to be sued in Portugal, the Isle of Man, or some other jurisdiction. Contrary to what some people believe this doesn’t mean that the resort can’t then come after you in the UK.
It is perfectly possible to obtain a judgment against you in one country and then enforce that judgment in another country. Different countries have different treaties for the reciprocal enforcement of judgments between the countries. Once the judgment has been obtained in that other country it is quite difficult to defend the enforcement of that judgment in your home country. Even if you are successful in doing so this may not stop the other side coming back and having another go – and this time doing it properly.
How do we cancel a Portuguese Timeshare?
There are various ways of cancelling Timeshare depending on your circumstances. However, essentially there are three different ways;
Under the Portuguese Timeshare Legislation
If the Resorts have not complied with their obligations under Portuguese Timeshare Legislation, then it may be possible to cancel your Timeshare. Timeshare laws have changed over time so we would need to look at the law that applied when you bought.
Under general contract law
If you have been lied to or put under pressure to buy, then we can use general contract law to get you out of your purchase.
Obviously, such cases come down to proof and also often come down to semantics. The salesmen know exactly what to say which technically is correct but gives a different impression completely.
Often nothing that you rely on is in writing
Under Portuguese Consumer Protection Law
If the product being sold is in Portugal, then Portuguese Consumer Protection Law applies. Most Resorts have not complied with their obligations under these laws. This may be because they are not aware of them or because they don’t want to comply and hope that you don’t become aware of them. Either way if they have not complied then we can cancel your ownership for you.
How much do we charge to cancel a Timeshare in Portugal?
Most of our clients cannot afford thousands of pounds in litigation when it comes to cancelling their timeshare.
We wanted to try and find a solution that cost no more than the typical cost of maintenance for a year, which we have managed to do.
First of all, we provide a free Viability report in relation to your Timeshare in Portugal to let you know whether your case is one which we can help with. Even if the case is viable there is no obligation to instruct us at that stage.
We charge a flat fee of £2,300 plus VAT (a total of £2,760) per week that you own at the resort to cancel your ownership on your behalf. By this we mean that if you own week 32 at apartment 201 and have done for the last ten years, we charge £2,300 plus VAT to cancel.
We mention this because some clients think that if they have owned their timeshare for 10 years that counts as 520 weeks!
That figure includes not only our fees but also any costs that we may incur on your behalf.
Over the years that we have been cancelling timeshare contracts on behalf of clients we have not yet had a client be taken to court by a Timeshare Resort in Portugal after we have got involved and have managed to cancel all timeshare contracts for clients that we have taken on.
If you own several weeks at the same timeshare resort, we may be able to reduce down the total charges if all those weeks were purchased at the same time on the same contract.
If this is the case, please speak to us and we will let you know what we can do about reducing down the fees.
Why use Judicare / why are we different?
We have an experienced Portuguese legal team
We are UK Solicitors
We are a UK based firm of Solicitors regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and who specialise in international legal issues.
We are members of AIPP
The Association of International Property Professionals was set up to improve standards of professionalism in a largely unregulated overseas property market.
Our Portuguese team has many years of experience dealing with a whole range of legal issues with Portugal
We speak your language
You need a lawyer who can speak your own language. More importantly you need somebody who can explain and discuss often complicated issues in terms that you understand.
We do not cold call
We will never call you unless you have contacted us first. This is not only because we have a policy of not cold calling but also because we don’t have your details unless you contact us.
We don’t claim that we can help everybody in every case. Neither do we assume that every case is the same. We therefore provide a free viability report to identify whether we can assist you before you instruct us.
I have been told not to pay anything up front
You are right to be cautious – after all, there are lots of scams associated with getting out of Timeshare and many of them are thinly veiled attempts to sell you something else. Equally there is lots of people who claim to be able to help cancel timeshare but have only been involved in Timeshare for a short period of time and therefore do not understand how the companies work.
We hope that the following information will be of comfort;
We are a firm of Solicitors regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority
We work with Portuguese lawyers who are registered at the appropriate Law Society in Portugal.
In addition to the above we are members of AIPP. (http://www.aipp.org.uk) and therefore are subject to the Code of Conduct for the AIPP. You can see that we are members of AIPP at http://www.aipp.org.uk/members/ and you are free to contact them to check whether we are legitimate. Peter Esders is on the Board of AIPP and is the current Deputy Chairman.