Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi recently announced a major new push to clean up the timeshare resale scams that have plagued consumers for too many years. The legislation targets people and companies who contact timeshare owners, claim to have a buyer available if the timeshare owner wants to sell, but the timeshare owner must pay a set amount of money upfront. Of course, no sale ever takes place and the time share owner is out a few hundred dollars. In other words, the very scams our company has been warning you about for many years.
Bondi noted that since she took office in January, her office has received 6,863 complaints regarding timeshare resale companies. Last year, the office fielded 12,000 complaints on the same topic, four times the next four highest complaint categories combined.
Under the proposed legislation:
* A timeshare resale advertiser may not misrepresent a pre-existing interest in the owner’s timeshare.
* A timeshare resale advertiser may not mislead a customer as to the success rate of the advertiser’s sales.
* A timeshare resale advertiser may not provide brokerage or direct sale services.
* A timeshare resale advertiser must honor a cancellation request made within seven days following a signed agreement.
* A timeshare resale advertiser must provide a full refund by a timeshare owner within 20 days of a valid cancellation request.
* A timeshare resale advertiser 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.
* A timeshare advertising agreement must be put in writing.
* A company that violates these provisions has committed a violation of the Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act with a penalty not to exceed $15,000 per violation.
Now, followers of this newsletter might remember that for over a year there has been a bill working it’s way through the Florida legislature that, in name, was supposed to protect the consumer. This bill was put together by folks outside the Florida government and the group I co-founded almost two years ago, the Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association (LTRBA), opposed it as actually doing more to harm the consumer than help. Our position was that licensed brokers were not the problem nor did they need more laws and restrictions as we were already regulated by the real estate commission. “Advertising” agencies, however, are where the complaints are coming from and regulation has been lax or full of loopholes. That bill would have blurred the lines between honest brokers, and up-front fee “companies” who were fleecing the public. This new bill, we hope, will truly be something that makes a difference in helping to put an end to the scams. At this point, “we hope” is still the key word as LTRBA has not yet received a copy of the proposed legislation. We are hopefully optimistic and we’ll report more to you when we know more.
The proposed legislation is aimed at crooks, plain and simple. These crooks continue to cause the entire timeshare industry to get a black eye and to make potential newbies to time shares wary. One of the primary reasons LTRBA was formed was to put an end to this. And I’m here to tell you that we’re making a difference. While much work remains to be done, rest assured that you, the timeshare consumer, has an ally who has been working in the background tirelessly to protect you from scams and to ensure that your timeshare investment is one you’ll treasure for years to come.
You’ve got a friend in the business.
Tom Tubbs, Broker
Island Consulting Realty
800-809-6020 or 941-922-3808
Co-Founder: Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association