How to Get Rid of A Timeshare: Dispose of A Timeshare Legally Today
We get that timeshares seem really alluring. After all, it seems like you own a piece of property–maybe they sell it to you as a vacation home–and you can visit it whenever you want. Ok, maybe there’s a limit to how long you can stay.
You’ve handed over the check and maybe you regretted it instantly, wondering whether timeshares are scams. Or, you’ve struggled making payments on those pesky annual fees and you’re ready to get rid of it.
Even if you don’t believe you’ve been ripped off, maybe you can no longer travel.
So what can you do? In many cases there isn’t a foolproof timeshare exit plan, meaning there’s no easy way to get out of your contract. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
A timeshare is essentially a type of vacation property where instead of owning it outright, you share the costs with others so that you’re guaranteed time at your designated property. Think of it as shared home ownership, except you don’t get as much say over what happens. Once you pay the upfront fee to purchase a timeshare, you’re still subject to ongoing fees, like maintenance and other incidental costs.
There are a few different types of timeshares, which can have an effect on how you’ll be able to get rid of it. Your timeshare can differ depending on the type of contract and ownership rights.
Yes, you may not even own the property! If you have a shared deed, then you own the property alongside other timeshare owners and are deeded to a specific time when you can use it. Shared leases mean you’re sharing a lease, so the timeshare company owns the property–think of it as a long-term loan.
As for when you can visit, it’s either a fixed time, a certain time frame, or based on a point system. How points work is that your timeshare is worth a specific amount of points which you can use towards timeshares at other properties. However, not every place is equal, so you may not be able to access properties that are worth more points.
Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to get your money back with a timeshare. That doesn’t mean you can’t get rid of a timeshare for free. There are plenty of companies that can help you if your situation appears complicated, or if, for whatever reason, you can’t do it on our own. However, it is totally possible to do it yourself.
As for average costs, it depends on how much you already paid and how you plan to get rid of it. For example, if you’re selling your timeshare, you may be subject to brokerage fees or commissions. Or, if you hired an attorney to help you get out of your timeshare contract, you’ll need to pay for their services.
If you’re lucky, maybe you can cancel or “rescind” your timeshare purchase if your states allow it within a certain time after you make the purchase–usually up to two weeks. So, if you’ve signed a contract and want to cancel, you can proceed, no questions asked, within that period. To do so, contact the timeshare resort via certified email that you want to rescind your purchase and follow any specific directions indicated in your timeshare contract.
You still have choices (discussed below) if you’re past the recession period or if your state doesn’t offer this option.
Here are a few options if you no longer want your timeshare.
Sell Your Timeshare
There are online marketplaces like RedWeek where you can try to sell your timeshare. Keep in mind that these companies may charge a fee to make a listing. There are also timeshare brokers (look for one through the Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association) who charge a commission once your timeshare is sold.
Be cautious of anyone contacting you to help you sell your timeshare because these are typically scams, especially those who want to charge you an upfront fee.
File For Bankruptcy
Yes, this can damage your credit score, but filing for bankruptcy may be the only choice if you really want to stop paying for your timeshare debt. Before doing so, talk with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to assess your situation.
Give It Back
You can try to ask the timeshare company to take it back–it doesn’t mean they’ll agree to it. Also called a timeshare deedback, if you can somehow let the company know you can’t pay for it (you can go so far as to refuse to, but that’s up to you), you might be able to give the timeshare back.
Rent It Out
Owners who can’t stand the thought of paying to get rid of a timeshare or thinking about the money they’ve already put into it can rent it out. Ideally, you can rent it out for enough to cover your annual fees. At the very least, it can help you offset some of the costs. Feel free to ask friends and family members to see if they know of anyone that would be interested. There are also marketplaces that can help you list them for rent, typically the same ones that also list timeshares for sale.
Give It Away
If you’ve exhausted all of the above options and there’s still no good way to get rid of your timeshare, consider giving it away. This could mean asking someone to take it over for you–even sell it for as little as $1 to facilitate the transaction. Sadly, you will pretty much lose money on the deal but you won’t have to worry about paying maintenance fees and taxes from now on.
It’s up to you to decide whether you think buying into a timeshare will be worth it. Of course, take a careful look at your lifestyle and budget to see if this is a purchase you’ll enjoy and can afford.
Given that, know that a timeshare is technically a legally binding contract. If your contract looks like it’s easy to get out of, you’re lucky. Otherwise, you could face a ton of stress (not to mention lost money) if it’s not.