If you bought a timeshare after being pressured into the deal or simply have buyer’s remorse, you might be able to cancel the contract—but you’ll need to act quickly. The amount of time you get to rescind (cancel) the purchase depends on state law. Normally, you only have only a few days. Read on to learn what steps you need to take to back out of a timeshare deal.
Most people attend timeshare presentations with the goal of getting a prize or other freebie. By the end of the sales pitch you might feel sufficiently worn down—or maybe a timeshare will start to sound like a good idea—and you could agree to buy a timeshare. Once you get out the meeting though, you might have second thoughts after realizing how many downsides come with owning a timeshare, like having to pay annual maintenance fees and special assessments. If this happens to you, you can probably back out of the purchase—but only if you act quickly.
The vast majority of timeshare purchasers get the right to rescind the contract within a certain amount of time. Most states (and some foreign countries) have laws giving timeshare buyers at least a few days—normally between three and fifteen—to cancel the deal.
Most of the time, you must send your cancellation in writing. Even if the law allows you to cancel the contract orally, it’s a good idea to prepare and send a cancellation letter to the seller.
A cancellation letter should typically include the following information (but a state's laws might give specific instructions about what to include):
While it’s usually not necessary to provide a reason for canceling the timeshare contract, you do need to specifically state that the purpose of the letter is to rescind the contract. For example, a statement like “I am contacting you within the rescission period in order to cancel this timeshare contract” will usually work.
The method by which you should deliver the cancellation is usually set out 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 might not count.
If you bought a timeshare in a foreign county, that country’s laws—or maybe the laws of the province or state within the country—will say how to deliver a timeshare cancellation notice.
Most timeshare laws require the seller to include information in the contract about how long you have to cancel the deal, as well as the procedures for delivering a cancellation letter. But timeshare sellers sometimes leave these details out of the paperwork or the instructions might be confusing.
To verify how much time you have to cancel a timeshare deal—and the specific procedures you need to follow—consider talking to real estate attorney or timeshare attorney in the state where the timeshare is located. If you buy a timeshare abroad and want to learn about your cancellation rights, consult with an attorney or consumer protection agency in that country.