Tourism around the world ground to a halt back in March 2020 which caused the temporary closure of all hotels across Spain and the majority of Europe. This left 80% of timeshare owners not being able to utilise their timeshares despite already paying their annual maintenance fees. This has been the last straw for many owners who are now terminating their obligated agreements and submitted claims.
How the knock-on effect caused by COVID-19 will affect timeshare maintenance fees.
COVID-19 cases in Europe Rise
COVID-19 cases in Europe rose above China on 13 March 2020. As of 17 March 2020, every country in Europe beside the Vatican City had seen at least one fatality caused by COVID-19.
250 million people were put in compulsory lockdown in Europe from 18 March 2020. As of 18 March 2020, every timeshare hotel across Spain and the majority of Europe closed its doors. 3 months later, on 21 June 2020 Spain ends its state of emergency and people are allowed to leave their homes. As the majority of timeshare owners in Europe are from the UK, 90% of timeshare resorts remain closed even to this date (5 August 2020).
Timeshare owners request refunds
Timeshare owners request refunds of their maintenance fees as they could not utilise their ownerships. However, unlike regular holidays, maintenance fees are not payments covering accommodation costs. These annual fees cover the costs of resort employees and maintaining the resorts and the grounds on which they sit.
The argument stands that the resorts were still maintained by onsite caretakers and the costs of sanitising the resorts were far greater than the general upkeep. Although the resorts were temporarily closed it became illegal to end employees´ contracts due to the pandemic. Employees were still being paid, therefore the costs during the closure were the same or greater than if they were open. Not one timeshare owner has received a refund. Some resorts offered additional weeks as a way to compensate their members, however, this was done as a gesture of good will and not a legal requirement.
Unhappy timeshare owners
Owners are left extremely unhappy after paying to maintain resorts that they were unable to use during 2020. They are also told that this is likely to repeat if their allocated week number falls within the first quarter of 2021. Owners are now wanting to terminate their timeshare agreements before the arrival of their next maintenance bill!
Timeshare owners terminate their contracts
Here at timeshare-claims.co.uk we received more requests for information regarding timeshare claims and terminations during the first weekend in April than we did in the whole of 2019! With the continued influx of timeshare owners attempting to terminate their contracts ahead of receiving their 2021 maintenance bill, it is estimated that the number of timeshare owners in Europe will fall by almost 20% over the next 4 months.
Maintenance costs divided
There will be a dramatic decline of timeshare owners as we enter 2021. This is not only caused by owners terminating their contracts. There has also been a 99% decline in new timeshare purchases as timeshare resorts were forced to close their sales decks during lockdown. The resorts still cost the same to maintain as they did the previous year, however these costs are now divided equally between the remaining owners. Therefore, it is estimated that timeshare maintenance fees will increase in 2021 by approximately 20%. However, many timeshare companies increase the costs of annual fees way above inflation year on year with no explanation. Depending on the honesty of the timeshare company, some owners could see an increase of up to 40%!
The increase of fees in 2021 will leave more owners wanting to exit and less owners wanting to buy. This will cause a further increase in fees for 2022. If the timeshare companies cannot maintain the resorts and increase sales, bringing in new members, they will eventually be forced into voluntary liquidation.
Anyone who owns a timeshare in Europe are legally allowed to terminate the timeshare agreement early. There is likely to be a fee involved for terminating a contract. However, depending on your ownership and how you purchased, you may be entitled to claim compensation due to your timeshare being mis-sold. Mis-selling can include a number of things from pressurised sales tactic to the use of non-regulated contracts.
The most common illegalities within timeshare contracts are as below
- Contracts being in perpetuity or having no end date.
- Contracts not stating a week number and unit number. This include points products.
- No cooling off period given or any money being accepted within the cooling off period.
- The loss of exclusivity.
- Timeshares being sold as an investment.
Use our compensation calculator to find out if you are eligible to claim compensation