If you purchased a timeshare and feel you were pressured into the deal or have since determined that it does not fit into your budget, you can cancel the purchase, but you’ll need to act quickly. The amount of time you have to cancel the purchase (called the rescission period) depends on your state’s laws and typically is only a few days.
Read on to learn more about state timeshare cancellation laws and how to cancel a timeshare purchase if you decide you want to get out of the deal. (Learn more about timeshares in our Timeshares & Timeshare Foreclosures topic area.)
People often go to a timeshare presentation with the hope of walking away with a free appliance or other gift, but by the end of a presentation, they feel pressured and worn down by the sales pitch. As a result, sometimes people sign a timeshare purchase contract even though they had no intention of buying a timeshare when they first walked into the meeting. If this has happened to you and you act quickly, you can cancel the purchase.
Timeshare purchasers have the right to rescind (cancel) the contract within a certain time period pursuant to state law. State laws provide a minimum number of days for the rescission period, usually between three and fifteen, and often require that the right to cancel be included in the contract. (Also, individual contracts may provide for longer cancellation periods.) This right is non-waivable, which means that the seller cannot ask or require you to give up this right.
Usually, the buyer must notify the seller in writing for the cancellation to be effective. If the buyer timely and properly cancels the contract within the allotted time period, all monies paid must be returned to the buyer.
The first step in cancelling a timeshare purchase is to figure out the rescission period. Here are few examples of the various rescission periods in different states.
Most of the time, the cancellation must be in writing. The cancellation letter generally should include the following information (though state law might provide specific instructions about what to include):
It is usually not necessary to provide a reason for canceling the timeshare contract, but you do need to state that the purpose of the letter is to rescind the contract. For example, a statement such as “I am contacting you within the rescission period in order to cancel this timeshare contract” will generally suffice.
The method by which you should deliver the cancellation is usually contained in the contract itself or it is set out in state law. Some timeshare companies allow hand-delivery of a cancellation notice, while others will only accept delivery via registered or certified mail. Be sure to follow the instructions exactly and make sure the letter is delivered within the applicable rescission time period, otherwise your cancellation may not be valid.
If the rescission period has passed, you’ll probably have to sell your timeshare rather than get a refund. In a few situations though, you may be able to get out of a timeshare contract after the right of rescission has expired.
For example, in Arkansas, a buyer has five days to cancel a timeshare contract after execution of the contract of sale (Ark. Code Ann. §18-14-409). However, the purchaser may bring a lawsuit in court within four years to rescind the contract if there is a question about the accuracy of the required disclosure or validity of the timeshare contract (Ark. Code Ann. §18-14-403).
It is important to understand all of your rights when purchasing a timeshare. If you sign a timeshare contract early in your vacation, the rescission period could very well expire before you even get home. To avoid missing the window of opportunity for cancelling the contract, be sure to read all of the terms of the contract at the time you purchase the timeshare. You should be familiar with state law as well.
To learn about the laws governing timeshare cancellations in your state or in the state where your timeshare is located (if different from where you live), review the state’s statutes. (To find out how to do your own legal research, see Nolo’s Laws and Legal Research section.) Or talk to a local real estate attorney.