Timeshares in Florida are well known. In fact, they are part of a lot of American daydreams: a little piece of the Florida beaches with our beautiful ocean waves and sunny skies. Timeshares let many Americans and foreigners, as well, experience living the Florida condo life – if only for a part of the time that they own or rent that property in a time share deal.
Timeshares aren’t new. The Florida Legislature has set up laws regulating timeshares in ways similar to that of condominiums (Chapter 721 of the Florida Statutes) and in a matter of weeks (on July 1, 2012), a new law will go into effect to counter the widespread wrongdoing and fraud that has been happening with Florida timeshares.
Florida Timeshare Fraud: Don’t Be a Victim.
As of July 1, 2012, Florida law will be aiming to punish scammers who are taking advantage of Floridians and others in timeshare con schemes. Timeshare fraud can involve fraudulent resales, fake purchase transactions, or phoney rental schemes. The criminals are taking advantage of today’s bad economy to offer ways to buy, sell, or rent Florida timeshare condos that are shady — and end up hurting owners, buyers, and renters of the timeshare deal.
Here’s one example of Florida timeshare fraud: an anxious owner of a Florida beachfront condo timeshare gets the promise of an interested buyer – but the deal can go down only with a fee that the owner has to pay first. That fee can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Once the timeshare owner pays the fee, poof! The deal vanishes.
With the new law, things are changed. In the scenario above, for example, the fee amount that can be charged to an owner will be capped at $75.00.
It makes sense that as the economy got worse, timeshares suffered. Sales went down. Vacation budgets evaporated in favor of the ‘staycation’ and expenses rose. And, there were all the defaults.
Just like other parts of the Florida housing crisis, people began defaulting on their Florida timeshares. This left those still paying on their timeshare condos holding the bag for the maintenance and repairs.
It’s a very, very similar situation to the Florida condominium complex down the street where condo associations are trying to stretch their dollars with a condominium project filled with defaulting units and condo owners stymied by the disrepair and decline.
Larry Tolchinsky’s Tip:
Pam Bondi, the Attorney General for the State of Florida has dedicated her Office to working on protecting Florida timeshare owners through the use of Florida fraud laws. The Florida Attorney General, for example, has begun investigations into fly by night telemarketers that are trying to dupe Florida timeshare owners who are trying to rent out their timeshares or to sell them outright. Expect her office to take the new July 2012 statute in hand as these telemarketing companies are discovered and stopped.
Meanwhile, anyone who owns or rents a Florida timeshare needs to be aware of their rights under Florida law. They may have legal remedies available to them not only for scams taking fees fraudulently, for example, but they may also have legal options for dealing with timeshare defaults and their impact on the overall value of the property.
Under Florida law, timeshares are legislated in a manner similar to condos. For example, the managing entity can foreclose a lien on the timeshare.
- Are they exercising this right?
- How does this jive with any other mortgage liens on that timeshare interest?
- How does this help the upkeep issues?
If you own a Florida timeshare, you have an investment that you may want to protect. Or, you may have a property you want to sell. It’s important to get legal advice from an experienced Florida real estate attorney before you take action — particularly if you’ve been contacted by a marketing company with a deal that sounds too good to be true. Because as the old adage goes, it just might be too good to be true.
If you have questions or comments, please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at email@example.com or (954) 458-8655.