If you bought a timeshare and feel you were pressured into the deal or have since determined that it does not fit into your budget, you likely 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 state law and is typically only a few days.
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 probably cancel the purchase.
Timeshare purchasers usually 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, typically 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.
The right to cancel is normally nonwaivable, which means that the seller can't ask or require you to give up this right.
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 usually has to include certain information, like the date of the purchase and a description of the timeshare, depending on the law. (Learn more about the procedures for cancelling a timeshare deal.)
If the buyer timely and properly cancels the contract within the allotted time period, all monies paid must be returned to the buyer.
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's 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 where the timeshare is located 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 or consumer protection attorney.