Timeshares emerged from a 1960s European hotel concept that encouraged guests to buy a guest room rather than rent it. The concept developed into a new form of real property ownership known as the right of use. Timeshare owners are mutually exclusive parties, each having the right of use or access to the unit for a period of time (most often a week) as detailed in a timeshare agreement. An owner wishing to legally dispose of his timeshare obligation may do so by exercising the grace period or free-look period, donating the timeshare or transferring or selling it.
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Exercise the contractual right to rescind the timeshare agreement. The timeshare contract will have a provision that allows the buyer to withdraw from purchasing the timeshare; this period can be as little as three days and up to 10 days or more. The rescinding provision likely will contain surrendering of fees or money already deposited and can also include a fee specifically for withdrawing from the contract.
Donate the timeshare to a charity. Some charities use timeshare properties in the course of their fundraising efforts. While this can leave the timeshare owner unable to recoup money from the sale of ownership rights, it will legally dispose of the timeshare and free the owner from any further obligation or future liability. A timeshare donation is a legitimate tax deduction to be claimed as a charitable contribution.
Give the timeshare back to the resort. As a last alternative, an owner may be able to legally dispose of a timeshare by surrendering his rights to the unit. While this may result in costs such as cancellation fees, lost deposits and annual fees, you have legally disposed of the timeshare.
Tips and warnings
- Review your timeshare contract thoroughly to identify options for legally disposing of the unit.
- Each state has its own laws governing timeshare contracts and timeshare owner rights, and an owner may have legal recourse outside the contract to legally dispose of a timeshare.
- Fees for cancelling a timeshare contract can be significant and force the owner to sell or transfer the timeshare.
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