[Tallahassee, FL] Yesterday, legislation was proposed to curb timeshare resale fraud, which is rampant in Florida as the number of received complaints would suggest.
Attorney General Pam Bondi, Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) and Representative Eric Eisnaugle (R-Orlando) teamed up to introduce a legislative initiative aimed at better protecting the state’s citizens and millions of visitors from timeshare resale fraud.
Florida’s timeshare industry is rife with deceptive advertising. This bill would strengthen laws already on the books.
“Florida is home to millions of timeshare periods that consumers purchase, said Attorney General Pam Bondi. “We cannot allow unscrupulous individuals to mislead and defraud our consumers who are attempting to sell their timeshares, many of whom have invested their life savings into their dream vacation homes.”
Bondi has a big reason to get involved – in the past two years, the Attorney general’s office has receivedmore than 20,000 complaints about timeshare resale fraud. No other complaint category even comes close.
“I am proud to stand with the Attorney General to introduce legislation that will further protect consumers who purchase timeshare properties in Florida and later lose their money due to fraudulent resale practices,” stated Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner.
According to Bondi, the most common complaints are:
- false claims that a specific buyer is ready to buy or rent the property once the consumer signs a contract
- deceptive claims that property will sell or rent within a certain time
- failure to honor stated-cancellation policies, including refunds of fees
- misrepresentations of the actual services provided to consumers
Example deceptive timeshare ad provided by Attorney General
“Timeshare properties are a vital part of Florida’s tourism and resort industry. People who purchase these properties should be protected from the misleading and deceptive practices being used by dishonest timeshare resale companies,” said Representative Eric Eisnaugle.
The new legislation would forbid timeshare resale advertisers from misrepresenting a pre-existing interest in the owner’s timeshare, misleading a customer as to the success rate of the advertiser’s sales, or providing brokerage or direct sale services. All timeshare advertising agreements must be put in writing.
Additionally, the advertiser must honor a cancellation request made within 7 days following a signed agreement and provide a full refund by a timeshare owner within 20 days of a valid cancellation request.
They also must not collect any payment or engage in any resale advertising activities until the timeshare owner delivers a signed written agreement for the services. A timeshare resale advertiser must also provide a full disclosure statement printed in bold type, with no smaller than a 12-point font, and printed immediately preceding the space provided for the timeshare owner’s signature.
Companies found in violation face penalties of $15,000 per infraction.
By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate
Images: Attorney General’s Office Resource: Attorney General news release