Anyone who has owned timeshare over a number of years, or even decades like many RCI members have, will know what great value and comfortable accommodation it offers to holidaymakers of all ages, being ideal for family groups holidaying together. So when the time finally comes that you are unable to travel for whatever reason, instead of selling your timeshare, why don't you think of passing on a legacy of a world of wonderful holidays by transferring the timeshare ownership to a family member or special friend?
One of the biggest benefits of timeshare is the opportunity for families to create many holiday memories to last a lifetime. Indeed, some RCI members have told us that the ‘use it or lose it’ concept is a great motivator to ensure that they do take that holiday every year, otherwise it’s all too easy to get caught up in the rhythm of everyday life and work.
With your spacious holiday accommodation paid for upfront and the superb on-resort facilities offered by most timeshare resorts, holidaying in a timeshare all adds up to you and yours being able to relax, have fun and enjoy the finer things in life. It’s what holidays are all about.
But with life comes change, and so this can mean that you find yourself unable to use your home resort or exchange membership, whether it’s ill health, lack of mobility or financial issues that prevents you from doing so.
You could sell your timeshare of course, but there's another option.
It is always worth investigating the option of passing it on, or gifting it, to your children or a special friend who can enjoy timeshare holidays, just as you have.
With facilities, such as on-site entertainment, restaurants, bars, swimming pools for both the children and the grown ups, landscaped gardens, activity areas, kids' clubs, wellness centres and more - not forgetting the well-appointed and spacious accommodation, your timeshare offers so much more than a cramped hotel room and the formality that often comes with staying in a hotel.
Gifting your timeshare ownership to your children or a friend will give them and their families years of happy, relaxed holidays to look forward to and look back on, as you have enjoyed yourself for so many years. A possible bonus is that if your circumstances change and you find you can travel again, at least you will have the opportunity to join them on their timeshare holidays, as there is always room for another one - at no additional cost - in timeshare accommodation!
But how do you go about transferring your timeshare? We caught up with RDO (Resort Development Organisation), the industry's European governing body, My Lawyer in Spain, legal experts in buying and selling timeshare, and Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket, an established and trusted timeshare resale agency, to give you some pointers on what to bear in mind when transferring, or selling your timeshare, should transferring ownership not be an option for you.
How do I start the process of transferring my timeshare?
Your first port of call, whether you plan to transfer or sell your timeshare, is to contact your home resort, which is where you bought your timeshare in the beginning.
Transferring ownership titles on your timeshare deed is a simple matter of paperwork and registering a change of names which your resort should be happy to do for a nominal administration fee.
The resort management will handle all the paperwork for you, leaving you to sign on the dotted line to issue a new certificate to transfer your timeshare ownership over to someone else.
Before you decide to transfer or sell a timeshare, you must ensure that your maintenance fee payments are all up to date.
But what happens with my RCI membership?
As an RCI member, RCI will offer you all the support it can throughout the timeshare ownership transfer process, as well as helping with the RCI membership enrolment of the new owner. It is a good idea to enrol your new owner into RCI membership, as it gives them or any others they may invite to use their timeshare, the opportunity to swap out - or exchange - the owned week for another in a different place. There are thousands of destinations across the world where RCI has affiliation agreements with resorts of every kind to make them available to RCI's timeshare exchanging members.
I have what is called a 'perpetuity' contract. Am I locked in?
If your ownership is contracted to you for a period of up to 80 years, which was the case back in the 1990s, these were called 'perpetuity contracts'. If you own on this basis, the best thing to do is contact your resort directly to see where you stand, as different resorts will be subject to different rules.
Many resorts are now introducing shorter term timeshare ownership options from three and five years, to 10 and 20 years, allowing ownership to be passed back to the resort on expiry of the contracted ownership period. Owners will be given the option to buy a further period of ownership, or even to upgrade to a higher membership tier offering many more lifestyle benefits and advantages. Even if you own timeshare under a 'perpetuity contract', your resort may be happy to look at a member of your family or a friend taking on the timeshare ownership on a shorter term basis. If your resort operates as a timeshare club, then the transfer process is relatively simple because there will normally be a trustee in place to effect the transfer - see below.
Alternatively, your resort may be happy to take back your ownership at no cost to yourself, and without any transfer. But the first step must be opening up the lines of communication and talking to the resort to see what your options are.
The circumstances in which a resort in RDO membership is bound to take the timeshare back include ill health, bankruptcy or the death of a joint owner. These are all situations in which you may be entitled to hand back your timeshare to the developer, as long as the management fees are paid up to date. Resorts which are RDO members are required to adhere to the surrender provisions in the RDO Code of Conduct, details of which can be found on www.rdo.org
What about the legal aspect if I want to transfer or sell?
Your timeshare will be subject to local and national laws of the country in which you own timeshare, rather than the laws governing the country in which you reside.
For example, in Spain, if you have an escritura ownership deed registered at the Land Registry, it is best to contact an English speaking Spanish lawyer who can handle the transfer of the escritura either back to the developer or to the new owner, as Spanish laws will apply.
Alex Radford, English solicitor and Spanish abogado of My Lawyer In Spain receives transfer and sales requests from owners and resale agents acting on the owner’s behalf. My Lawyer In Spain will act as Power of Attorney to manage the legal side of this process.
As part of this process, the firm elects notaries in the countries where the previous and new owners reside to ensure that all deeds and titles are updated in accordance with Spanish law. The transaction is, in fact, not too dissimilar to selling a property in the UK.
The only other ‘sign on the dotted line’ element is the club constitutional rules in operation at certain resorts. The new owner will need to review, sign up and comply with these rules.
I want to sell my timeshare, as I have nobody to transfer it over to. What are my options?
If you are going to your sell timeshare, it is important that the money generated from the sale is protected through a trustee, such as First National Trustee Company or Hutchinson Trustees - both of which are RDO members and are therefore bound by the RDO Code of Conduct.
You should only sell through a reputable resales agent, and you should never, ever, deal with any cold callers or respond to any random emails or flyers that may drop through your letter box.
Firstly, ask your resort management if it offers its own in-house resale service, which is the most logical first step.
Alternatively, you might choose to sell privately. Review the RDO-approved list of resale companies to find one that is professional and can be trusted to work in your best interests because it has to follow the RDO Code of Conduct. Many timeshare resorts are signed up to the RDO Code of Conduct, which gives members of the public additional protection to that afforded to them as standard in law.
Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket has been in the resales industry for more than 30 years. They will go through the selling process with you, explain how they arrive at the resale value you can expect to achieve on selling your timeshare, as well as providing a realistic estimate of how long it will take to sell it, together with any costs involved, such as advertising and marketing your timeshare.
Most importantly, you must make sure that monies are held in an independent trustee account, to ensure your money is protected and that the funds are released as soon as the sale has gone through.
I’m not sure about the wording in my contract. Who should I talk to?
Do not sign anything if you are unsure or have doubts about any of the details in your contract.
Consult with someone with legal expertise who can explain everything to you, clarify the terms of your contract and what they mean to you, and address any doubts you may have. DO NOT sign on any dotted line unless you are 100 per cent confident about all the terms outlined in your contract and what they mean in terms of liability to yourself.
I keep receiving calls from resale agents. Can I sell through them?
NEVER respond to, or be taken in, by cold calls from companies offering to help you dispose of your timeshare. It is very likely indeed that these callers will be bogus or fraudulent operators.
Fraudsters may call and claim someone wants to buy your timeshare, and tell you that you need to make a deposit or buy another timeshare that will be sold for profit at a later date, in order to close the deal with your buyer. Be very firm - do not sign up for anything and under no circumstances should you give out your financial or credit card information. Just hang up and walk away. Always consult the RDO-approved list of resale agents we highlighted earlier in this blog.
Remember, if you are planning to sell your timeshare, it is illegal for resale agents to take an upfront payment, and a 14-day cooling-off period must be provided, so you have 14 days to change your mind if you don’t want to sell. Conversely, any purchaser buying your timeshare is also protected by the same EU consumer legislation and will not be asked to pay a deposit on the sale, and may also back out of the sale within the same 14-day cooling-off period if they have a change of heart.
I still want to enjoy timeshare but need a bit more flexibility to suit my circumstances. Do I have any options?
eXpectations Holidays is a points club with a difference. It allows people who are happy with their timeshare holidays, but are looking for something with more flexibility, to switch their fixed timeshare weeks to points. Those eXpectations' club points can then be used to book accommodation from within the RCI Points holiday exchange system.
This means you can still enjoy the benefits of timeshare but, importantly, without the long-term commitment, as the points club membership offered is for a minimum membership period of just three years.
The points are allocated every year, and you can even borrow from next year’s allocation so that you can use your ownership in a more flexible fashion by booking better or bigger accommodation for a really special getaway. As part of the club benefits, eXpectations members also receive discounts on selected travel products too.
RDO Member Directory: https://rdo.org/members-directory/
Complaints or advice on who to contact: RDO Consumer Services Department on firstname.lastname@example.org
Timeshare advice: Consult the free-of-charge advice service, which is approved by Trading Standards and operated by RDO: www.timesharehelpline.net