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“What are the rules on timeshare in the EU?”

Mr. and Mrs. Bain were on their first holiday in Spain when they were approached in the street, given a scratch card and told that they had won a free holiday. They were delighted!

"But then we were bundled into a taxi and taken to a hotel miles out of town for a three-hour hard sales pitch. I am not very healthy and can’t sit for long. I was just so desperate to leave. In the end, we were asked to sign a lot of paperwork and pay €1 000 as the first instalment for trying a timeshare property"

"What should we have done in this situation?"

The high-pressure sales situation in which Mr. and Mrs. Bain found themselves is not uncommon. If you find yourself in similar circumstances, and are pressured into signing a timeshare agreement, the law gives you a cooling-off period of at least 10 days. Until the end of this cooling-off period, you can cancel the agreement if you wish, without having to pay a fee. During the cooling-off period, it is illegal for the company to ask for money from you, so do not pay anything on the spot. If you do pay a fee up front, it may be more difficult for you to get this money back if you decide to cancel the agreement afterwards.

Timeshare explained

When you buy a timeshare, you buy the right to use holiday accommodation for a set amount of time each year. The accommodation is typically a villa, holiday home or flat. The contract should be of at least three years and for a minimum stay of one week a year to guarantee you EU timeshare rights.

Whatever the situation and arrangement that are proposed, you should check that you are given a minimum set of rights such as a cooling-off period, a prospectus and contracts in your own language. If these are not provided, walk away from the proposal.

What to be aware of

When you buy a timeshare, it is important to get as much information as possible before you sign, including details of:

  • full costs, including charges for things like legal fees, gas, electricity and water, and annual management and maintenance charges;
  • duration of the agreement;
  • what the resort is like. If it is still being built, check that planning permission has been granted, the extent of the development and the amount of work still to be completed;
  • type of timeshare you will have. Will you own the title to the property or shares in the land? Could you sell your share of land or transfer your rights?
  • terms and conditions of the agreement;
  • who is responsible for the day-to-day running of the resort and maintenance of the property;
  • whether there is an owners’ committee or association and what powers it has; for example, whether it decides on important issues regarding the management of a resort or the management fees.

Further information: Timeshare



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