If you've purchased or are thinking of buying a timeshare in Florida, it's important to learn the answers to the following questions:
Read on to find out some of the most important features of Florida timeshare law. (Be sure to check out Nolo's Timeshares FAQ for general information about timeshares.)
In Florida, if you buy a timeshare, you can cancel the timeshare contract up until midnight of the 10th calendar day following:
This right of cancellation cannot be waived.
If you want to cancel the purchase contract, you must notify the seller in writing. If you do this, the timeshare company must refund to you the total amount of payments, reduced by the value of any benefits received, within:
(Learn more about cancelling a timeshare purchase in How Do I Cancel a Timeshare Contract?)
In Florida, the developer must furnish each timeshare purchaser with a copy of the public offering statement. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 721.07 (6)(a).)
The public offering statement is a very detailed history of the project that contains important matters to consider when buying a timeshare interest, including (among other things):
Owners often find it extremely difficult to sell their timeshare because there is virtually no after-market for timeshares. As a result, scam artists have popped up who mislead timeshare owners into thinking that they have someone waiting in the wings that wants to buy the timeshare. But there's a catch—the timeshare owner must pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in upfront fees. Once the fees are paid, the scam artists claim that they were simply offering advertising services for the upfront money paid and no buyer ever materializes.
Florida law provides the following protections to shield consumers from this type of resale scam.
If you take out a loan to purchase an interest in a deeded timeshare and fail to make your timeshare mortgage payments or keep up with the assessments, you will likely face foreclosure. In addition to monthly mortgage payments, timeshare owners are ordinarily responsible for maintenance fees, special assessments, utilities, and taxes, collectively referred to as "assessments." (Find out more in Can a Timeshare Be Foreclosed for Nonpayment of Fees or Assessments?)
In Florida, residential foreclosures are judicial, but state law provides for the nonjudicial foreclosure of mortgages and assessment liens when it comes to timeshare properties. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 721.855 and § 721.856.)
When a lender forecloses on a mortgage, the total debt owed by the borrowers to the lender can exceed the foreclosure sale price. The difference between the sale price and the total debt is called a deficiency.
Example. Say the total debt owed for a timeshare is $15,000, but the timeshare sells for $10,000 at the foreclosure sale. The deficiency is $5,000.
In some states, the lender may get a deficiency judgment (a personal judgment) against the borrower for the amount of the deficiency. Whether or not you'll face a deficiency judgment after a timeshare foreclosure depends on state law. In Florida, the lender can't get a deficiency judgment against you after a nonjudicial timeshare foreclosure if you don't object to the nonjudicial foreclosure process. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 721.81(7) and § 721.855(5).)
Timeshares are regulated by statute. You can access the Florida statutes by going to www.leg.state.fl.us and clicking on "Florida Statutes." Then click on Title XL (Real and Personal Property) and then Chapter 721 (Vacation and Timeshare Plans). The statutes governing timeshares in Florida can be found in Part I, § 721.01 et seq.
(For articles on Florida consumer protection laws, visit our Florida Debt Management & Consumer Law Center.)
(For general articles on foreclosure in Florida, visit our Florida Foreclosure Law Center.)