Understanding what is required to rent out your timeshare:
Many resorts require timeshare owners to rent out their timeshare interests or exchange their points through the resort company itself, meaning that the owners are beholden to a process that can be extremely complicated. Whereas a consumer at least has a modicum of control with a direct rental, when they must go through a resort, there is, generally speaking, no real way to independently prove whether the company rented your interest or didn’t. To dissuade would-be timeshare landlords from seeking renters, many developers also make it complicated to rent out an interest, if they make the option clear or readily available to owners at all.
Rather than interfacing with their resort company or management, many consumers instead turn to third party platforms online or in print, using classifieds to market their timeshare’s availability. And while there are certainly some organizations handling these matters the right way, consumers unfamiliar with the timeshare marketplace are bound to feel confused or overwhelmed the first time they enter one of these digital bazaars.
Suppose the owner of a timeshare interest can’t use her allotted time this year. Imagine a timeshare owner who’s falling behind on payments due to circumstances outside of his/her control.
Given the questionable state of the timeshare resale market, what options do these consumers have for making sure their timeshare interests don’t go to waste? For many, renting their timeshare seems like the most viable option; some even see it as a way of turning the financial burden of a timeshare into a net positive gain.
Pitfalls of renting out your timeshare?
Booking Nightmares and How They Impact You as an Owner
Renting out your timeshare can be a great way to earn some extra money and offset the cost of ownership. However, there are some potential pitfalls that you should be aware of before you list your timeshare property for rent. One of the biggest dangers of renting out your vacation unit is that you could end up being the victim of timeshare fraud.
There have been numerous reports of timeshare rental scams in recent years, and many owners have lost a great deal of money and use of their units as a result of booking scams.
And whether you offer your timeshare in a newspaper classified or in an online forum, you could be opening yourself up to many of the same pitfalls that current owners experience on timeshare message boards or chat rooms. There simply is no guarantee that anyone will respond to your ad and rent your interest, particularly with the timeshare resale and rental markets as over-saturated as they are.
Lack of return?
Another potential problem when renting out your timeshare is that you may not make any money off the rental. If you’re not careful, you could end up losing money. For example, if you’re only able to rent your timeshare for a fraction of what it would normally cost to stay in the unit or only able to rent a portion of the week, you may find yourself having to pay out of pocket to make up the difference.
Additionally, many timeshare resorts require that owners maintain their membership in good standing in order to rent out their units. This means that if you’re behind on your maintenance fees, you may not be able to rent your unit at all to offset your annual costs.
And finally, even if everything goes smoothly and you’re able to find a renter for your timeshare, you’ll still have to deal with the hassle of managing the rental. This includes reserving the unit, obtaining guest certificates, dealing with payments, and answering questions from various potential renters. Over a lengthy period of months, this can consume a lot of your time.
In addition to paying a premium to publish an ad or use a timeshare marketing service, the combination of demand and supply for timeshare interests means that many listings are accessible and some timeshares go for pennies on the dollar; hardly enough, in many cases, to cover rising maintenance fee payments, let alone pay down an interest or provide a return.
Don’t Get Scammed
Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that the timeshare secondary market, such as it is, can be a shady realm, full of scammers and fraudsters looking to make a quick buck on the backs of desperate timeshare owners. Be wary of any questionable solicitation and bad actors who approach you out of the blue; Don’t pay any questionable upfront fees; and, be very wary of any offers from third-party rental companies that seem inflated or above your listing price. Those are red flags.
For consumers seeking relief from a timeshare that has become burdensome, legal representation may be the best option for an effective, lasting solution.
An attorney can advise on the many options available to timeshare owners, including working with the resort developer to cancel the contract, suing the resort or resale for fraud or misrepresentation, and lastly, helping to negotiate you to a better position than if you had tried to go it alone.
By taking some simple precautions and being aware of the risks, you can help to protect yourself from falling victim to timeshare rental scams. If you do rent out your timeshare, be sure to use a reputable rental company or service, and never pay any upfront fees. With careful planning and due diligence, you can minimize the risks and help ensure a successful rental experience.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.
Led by Attorney Michael D. Finn and J. Andrew Meyer with over 75 years of experience, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm specializing in timeshare law. Our lawyers understand vacation ownership as well as the many pitfalls of the secondary market of timeshare resales. If you feel you have been victimized by a timeshare company, contact our offices for a free consultation. Know your rights as a consumer and don’t hesitate to drop us a line with any questions or concerns. Follow us on Twitter.