The Florida Vacation Plan and Timesharing Act (HB 7025) has passed and will be going into effect on July 1st of this year, leaving less than a month between now and one of the most significant restructuring of the timeshare disposal landscape in years. Although this change does come with its benefits, the transfer process will likely become more expensive for timeshare owners.
The new bill is designed with a noble purpose: to rid the industry of the Viking Ship transfer model. This is a scheme in which an untraceable transfer company charges an unsatisfied owner a transfer fee and accepts ownership of their property without any intention of putting it back on the resale market or paying the associated fees and taxes. Eventually, the developer has to foreclose on the property and reassume its ownership, while the Viking Ship companies have sailed off in a blaze, never to be seen or heard from again.
This practice costs the developers millions every year, as maintenance fees are their primary revenue stream. Often times, in order to make up for the loss, resorts simply raise the annual fees for those remainingowners who have stuck to their initial agreement, even if they haven’t always been happy with their property. This may partially explain the seemingly arbitrary and astronomical increases in maintenance fees that we’ve been witnessing the last several years. So, it has become a circular problem: Owners grow tired of exorbitant maintenance fees, they, in some cases, unknowingly transfer their properties to a Viking Ship company, the developer forecloses and re-lists the property, and everyone’s maintenance fees continue to rise. At some point, we need to get off the merry-go-round.
Thankfully, this new legislation will be aimed at ridding the timeshare industry of Viking Ship schemes, while still allowing legitimate transfer companies to continue to help unsatisfied timeshare owners to dispose of their timeshare contract in an ethical, amicable fashion. However, in order to do so, there will be a little more due diligence and cost required to successfully complete a transfer. Not that this should serve as an impediment to a transfer, but it is something to be aware of given the new landscape of the timeshare disposal landscape.
Like most things in life, it’s important to consider all of your options and then act accordingly to remove your family from your timeshare agreement and avoid having to pay your annual maintenance fees.