The timeshare industry, which is struggling with a growing number of buyers defaulting on their mortgages and maintenance fees, wants the Florida Legislature to erect a thicket of new restrictions on so-called “relief” and “exit” companies that the industry claims are causing the problem.
Backed by the American Resort Development Association – the timeshare industry’s chief trade group – legislation has been filed in Tallahassee that would make it harder for third-party businesses to help owners get out of their contracts. Among many other provisions, the bill (HB 435) would prohibit a timeshare exit company from charging any money up front from potential customers.
Timeshare developers – including Wyndham Destinations, Bluegreen Vacations and Orange Lake Resorts, among others – claim unscrupulous exit companies are persuading owners to stop paying their mortgages or maintenance dues and then using attorneys to prevent the timeshare company from making any further contact with the owners. The industry has also attempted to sue exit companies and their law firms to stop the practice, with mixed results.
Exit company owners and others in the secondary market – such as companies that advertise timeshare resales, arrange timeshare rentals or arrange timeshare transfers – accuse the big developers of trying to keep owners locked into their contracts and to quash any kind of resale market that could undercut sales of new timeshares.