If you buy a timeshare and regret it, most states have "cooling-off" laws; these laws let you get out of a timeshare contract if you act quickly, usually within three to ten days. In Missouri, the cooling-off period is five days. Also, Missouri law protects potential timeshare purchasers when it comes to the use of promotional devices, like prizes and gifts, in timeshare sales.
Even though Missouri law provides quite a few protections for timeshare purchasers, you still need to be cautious when buying a timeshare. And you should understand that if you take out a mortgage loan to buy a deeded timeshare and stop making the payments, the lender, usually the resort developer, will probably foreclose. Also, timeshare owners typically have to pay annual maintenance fees and special assessments. If, as an owner, you don't pay the fees and assessments, you might face a lawsuit for a money judgment or a foreclosure of your timeshare. (With a right-to-use timeshare, people generally sign a contract and agree to make monthly payments. While a developer may foreclose a deeded timeshare, a right-to-use timeshare is typically repossessed, which is a different legal process than a foreclosure.)
In Missouri, a timeshare purchaser has five days after the date of the agreement to cancel the purchase. (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 407.620.)
Your cancellation notice must be in writing and, if sent by mail, addressed to the timeshare seller at the address shown on the purchase agreement. The cancellation is effective when postmarked. If you mail your cancellation, it's a good idea to send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested. (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 407.620.)
A timeshare purchaser can't waive the right to cancel. (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 407.620.)
Timeshare sellers are notorious for getting people to attend sales presentations by offering free gifts or awards. Missouri has strict requirements and content restrictions on the use of promotional devices and programs, including any sweepstakes, gift awards, drawings or display booths, or any other such award or prize inducement items, to advertise or sell a timeshare.
Under Missouri law, each promotional device, program, and notice must include the following information:
This information must be provided to the prospective purchaser in writing or electronically at least once within a reasonable time period before a scheduled sales presentation. But the required information doesn't need to be included in every advertisement or other written, oral, or electronic communication provided or made to a prospective purchaser before a scheduled sales presentation. (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 407.610(2).)
Additionally, a timeshare salesperson may not use deception, fraud, false promises, misrepresentation, unfair practices, or the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact in connection with a timeshare promotional device, advertisement, or sale. (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 407.020 and § 407.610 (4).)
Sometimes, timeshare sellers don't provide promised gifts or prizes to potential buyers after the presentation. Missouri law bans this practice.
In Missouri, if a prospective purchaser or purchaser doesn't receive the gift or prize (or a cash equivalent), that person may bring a civil action to recover damages and, if they prevail, receive at least five times the cash retail value of the most expensive gift offered (not to exceed $1,000) in addition to such other actual damages as may be determined by the evidence. (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 407.610(6).)
If you take out a loan to purchase an interest in a deeded timeshare and fail to make your mortgage payments, the lender (again, typically, the developer) might foreclose. In addition to monthly mortgage payments, timeshare owners are ordinarily responsible for maintenance fees, special assessments, utilities, and taxes, collectively referred to as "assessments." You might also face a foreclosure (or a lawsuit for a money judgment) if you fall behind in the timeshare assessments.
A few of the various options to avoid a timeshare foreclosure include:
If you want more information about timeshare laws in your state or need assistance canceling a timeshare, consider talking to a real estate attorney. If you're facing a timeshare foreclosure and have questions about the process or your options, contact a foreclosure attorney.