Attorney General’s Office

State lawmakers are weighing whether it should be necessary for someone to die to get out of a timeshare contract.

But it won’t do any good for those already stuck in such deals.

Legislation approved last week by the House Committee on Regulatory Affairs would give people who sign these deals 14 days to have second thoughts. That’s twice as long as now required.

But HB 2639 also would allow buyers to opt out within 14 days of actually using their timeshare and be entitled to a 90 percent refund.

Potentially most significant, those who would buy a timeshare in the future and have had it for at least a decade could simply walk away without being on the legal hook for annual maintenance fees that could continue for the rest of their lives.

Despite the 7-0 vote Monday by the House Committee on Regulatory Affairs, it remains unclear if the provisions will ever become law.

Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, who chairs the panel, said he will seek to strip out many of the provisions when it now goes to the full House, instead reducing it to additional requirements for what information needs to be given to buyers.

The star witness for the proposal by Rep. Shawnna Bolick, R-Phoenix, was Gloria Johnson, who told lawmakers about her experience buying a timeshare in 1980.

Now, she said, the option of having a week at a resort makes little sense. Yet, she is stuck making annual maintenance payments of more than $1,000.

Johnson said she was told she can leave the timeshare to her children. “There is no way out of this,’’ she said. “You own this for life and you own it beyond your life.’’

Amanda Rusing, who lobbies for the Attorney General’s Office, said her agency crafted the measure to deal with specific complaints by timeshare buyers and owners. She said it starts with providing more than just seven days for buyers to consider what they’ve done.

She also said it’s important for people to be able to get out of a contract once they’ve actually had the opportunity to use the unit that they’ve bought for one week a year.

And as far as getting out, Rusing said good luck. She said people are so desperate that they advertise their time share for as little as a penny, only to find no one who wants to assume the future liability. And that, in turn, has created what she said are some scam artists who claim to be able to free people from their timeshares, often for an upfront fee.

Don Isaacson, who lobbies for the American Resort Development Association, said no state allows someone to simply give back a unit after 10 years.

 Isaacson said the state should not step in to protect people who didn’t bother to understand the nature of the deal.

“You are buying real estate,” he said. Isaacson argued that too much is being made of the issue. He said the 250 complaints a year to the Attorney General’s Office pale in comparison to the 600,000 timeshare units owned in Arizona.

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