Massachusetts law provides timeshare purchasers with several important protections. For example, if you purchase a timeshare in Massachusetts, you can cancel the contract, but you’ll have to do so promptly. Additionally, under Massachusetts law, a court can refuse to enforce the timeshare contract if it finds the agreement (or a clause in the agreement) to be unconscionable. However, if you don't make your timeshare mortgage or assessments payments, you may lose your timeshare through foreclosure.
Read on to learn more about the most significant features of Massachusetts’ timeshare law.
Public Offering Statement
A public offering statement contains general information about the timeshare development. In Massachusetts, the timeshare developer must provide the purchaser with a copy of the public offering statement before transferring the timeshare interest and no later than the date of the sales contract (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183B, § 41(a)).
The public offering statement must disclose important information about the timeshare, such as the developer's name and address, a description of the timeshare property, the project's budget, and information about your right to cancel the contract, among other things (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183B, § 38).
Right to Cancel a Timeshare in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, you have the right to cancel a timeshare contract within three business days after the date you receive the public offering statement (unless you receive the public offering statement more than three days before the date you sign the contract) (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183B, § 38).
How to Cancel
To cancel the contract, you may:
- hand-deliver written notice to the seller (or to his agent for service of process)
- mail notice to the seller (or to his agent for service of process) by registered mail, return receipt requested
- send a telegram, or
- use a courier service with guaranteed next day delivery (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183B, § 41(b)).
The notice is effective on the date postmarked or when transmitted from the place of origin (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183B, § 41(b)). (Get more tips on how to cancel a timeshare contract.)
If you cancel the contract, any payments you made must be refunded:
- immediately, if your check has not yet been deposited in the seller’s bank account
- within seven days after the seller receives notice of cancellation, if the check has been deposited (but not before the first business day following the date on which the funds are credited to the seller’s account), or
- immediately to your credit card account, if payment was made by credit card (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183B, § 41(b)).
Even if the cancellation period has expired, you may be able to void the contract (or part of it) if the contract is unreasonable. Massachusetts law states that if a court finds that the timeshare contract (or a clause in the agreement) was unconscionable at the time the contract was made, the court may:
- refuse to enforce the contract
- enforce the remainder of the contract without the unconscionable clause, or
- limit the application of any such unconscionable clause in order to avoid an unconscionable result (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183B, § 5).
Timeshare Exchange Programs
One of the common features of timesharing is the ability to exchange your timeshare week (or other designated period of time) for someone else’s. In Massachusetts, a developer that offers an exchange program among timeshare owners must give certain disclosures to program participants.
For example, the developer must disclose whether participation in the exchange program is voluntary or mandatory, provide a description of the terms and conditions of the contract with the exchange company, and give a statement indicating whether exchanges are arranged on the basis of available space and whether there are any guarantees of fulfilling specific requests for exchanges, among other things (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183B, § 53).
Massachusetts Timeshare Foreclosures
Often, timeshare purchasers take out a loan to finance the purchase of a timeshare. In Massachusetts, if you don't make your timeshare mortgage payments, you could lose your timeshare through a Massachusetts foreclosure (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183B, § 29A). (Learn more in Nolo’s article Timeshare Foreclosures.)
In addition to monthly mortgage payments, timeshare owners are ordinarily responsible for maintenance fees, special assessments, utilities, and taxes, collectively referred to as “assessments.” If you fail to keep up with the assessments, you will also likely face foreclosure in Massachusetts (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183B, § 29B). (Find out more in Nolo’s article Can a Timeshare Be Foreclosed for Nonpayment of Fees or Assessments?)
Locating Massachusetts’ Timeshare Laws
You can find the statutes that govern timeshare transactions in Massachusetts by going to the Massachusetts Legislature’s webpage at https://malegislature.gov and clicking on “General Laws.” Look in Part II (Real and Personal Property and Domestic Relations), Title I (Title to Real Property), Chapter 183B (Real Estate Time-Shares).