The truth about the Loch Lomond timeshare trap
Many owners of timeshare properties find themselves in very distressing situations years down the line after purchasing their timeshare. After signing up to what once was an exciting, affordable holiday deal, the owners slowly start to realise that their timeshare contract is becoming a burden. It may be that their circumstances have changed, perhaps they have entered retirement age and seen their income dramatically drop while their yearly timeshare fees are on the rise. The alarming rate at which these maintenance fees can rise often means owners can no longer afford to meet the costs. Many owners make the sensible decision at this point to try and exit their contracts and sell or return the property (that they were told at the beginning would be an easy process) only to find that there is no possibility of returning the timeshare, there are no suitable buyers, and they are effectively trapped in an ever-increasing financial cost. This, unfortunately, is not a rare situation. We are seeing more and more timeshare owners that are facing unaffordable yearly payments and intimidating demands of debtors when they are struggling to meet their timeshare payments.
An awful story that arose recently was that of one elderly retired couple who owned a Cameron House Lodge timeshare on Loch Lomond. This retired couple were 73 and 76 years old respectively and had seen their timeshare property cost rise to a staggering fee of £6,800. For them, this cost was simply no longer affordable, and they have been in the distressing situation of helplessly watching expenses mount up with no hope of meeting the costs and no way to exit their contract. This particular couple had been trying to sell, or give back their timeshare property with no success for the past 8 years (since 2010). The couple had tried to sell their timeshare for only £450, the fee of a commission company, and effectively were trying to give their timeshare away for free, with no success, just to be able to escape the worry of the mounting fees. Tony Hetherington, a writer for the Financial Mail on Sunday, looked into this case to uncover some of the harsh truths about timeshare ownership on Loch Lomond that many owners across the UK have been victim to in similar resorts.
Desperate, In 2013 the couple revealed to Hetherington that they had actually returned the ownership certificate to Cameron House, explaining they couldn’t afford the annual fees now they had increased. They told Hetherington that they had “ received demands from debt collectors which we find distressing”. At this point, Cameron House told the couple that they would not accept the back ownership and there was no system in place for the company to take back the timeshare – it was the couple’s responsibility indefinitely, and they enclosed a fee of £2,868 of outstanding payments. Hetherington put forward questions to the owner of the timeshare lodges, Reich, which he refused to answer. Hetherington was told instead by a spokesperson that the company had “introduced a system to enable qualifying owners to exit from their legal obligations by paying four years’ maintenance fees – roughly £2,500 – and around 70 owners have since gone through this process.” This clearly doesn’t match the situation that the elderly couple found themselves in and the information their timeshare company had given them. In fact, they were being asked to pay much more than this lump sum with no possibility of an exit. It was only after Hetherington actually challenged the club that things started to move and the couples’ situation was resolved. On contacting the couple again, they told him that they could no longer discuss the case, suggesting that the timeshare resort and the timeshare owner, Reich, had offered a deal to allow the couple to give their timeshare back if they didn’t disclose any further details.
However, it wasn’t only the fees that had caused issues for this particular couple. Not only had their yearly fee increased beyond inflation – which they were told at the start would never happen, but they had also been assured no further properties would be built on the resort. In fact, units had been constructed which obstructed their view and decreased the value of their property. Not only this but at the point of sale, the couple had been told that repairs would only ever be made ‘like-for-like’ and high-quality fittings would always be used. The couple had found various instances this was not upheld, including one time where a regular bathtub had replaced a whirlwind bath. These types of breach to a contract can be a way to help couples finally escape from their timeshare traps. Not every owner will be able to have a journalist report their story and put pressure on a timeshare company and this, to us, seems incredibly unfair. Everyone in a similar situation that is being treated with such disregard by their timeshare company deserves justice. It is simply not right that a timeshare company can refuse to help their clients and leave them in financial turmoil with no route of escape.
What can I do if I am in a similar position?
If this couple’s story sounds similar to the situation you have found yourself in, or if you are in a timeshare contract that you need help leaving, then get in touch with Athena Law today for professional, friendly advice that you can trust. Our team of dedicated, expert timeshare solicitors will work closely with you to carefully consider your case and advise you on your legal rights. We have years of experience in this industry and many success stories for clients who have been in your position, and we may be able to help you too. We promise to beat any quote you are given and if we feel there are substantial grounds for your case we may be willing to represent you on a no win no fee basis.
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