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Last checked : 30/04/2018

Timeshare and other long-term holiday contracts in the EU

Buying a traditional timeshare - the right to spend more than one period of time in the course of more than one year in a given property or properties - can be quite a minefield. The same is true of joining a long-term holiday scheme, such as a discount holiday club, which gives the right to discounts on accommodation or related benefits, sometimes in combination with travel or other services, for more than one year.

Both conventional timeshares and the various long-term holiday schemes which have emerged over the years can involve a substantial long-term or permanent financial commitment. They also entail additional recurring costs (e.g. taxes, maintenance and insurance).

Contractual terms - your rights

The most recent EU rules, give you protection against unscrupulous traders when signing contracts for timeshares or long-term holiday schemes. These rules apply to contracts concluded as of 23 February 2011 (or later in some EU countries).

The rules also protect you when signing:

Your rights extend to different types of timeshare property including:

What you should know before buying

Before you decide to go ahead, be aware of your rights which include:

If your contract is a timeshare or long-term holiday scheme contract, you are covered by these rules even if the seller claims that they are not applicable.

Unfair commercial practices and potentially unfair contractual terms

Other things to be aware of include:

For advice on problems in the country where you live contact your national consumer organisation, in case of a dispute with a seller in another EU country, contact the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net) to find out about your rights and the protection you are entitled to.

You can also try to settle your dispute out-of-court using an alternative dispute resolution procedure.  If you bought your timeshare or long-term holiday contract online, you can also submit your complaint online via the ODR platform.

Sample story

Timeshare contract cancellation: citizen vs trader

Patrick from Ireland signed a timeshare contract with a provider in Malta in 2013. The trader did not give him the standard withdrawal form or inform him that no advance payments or deposits could be accepted during the cooling-off period.

He paid a deposit of EUR 1 260 and set up a direct debit charge of EUR 122.50 per month for 2 years.
To book a holiday in one of the trader's properties, he needed a special code number from the trader, but despite repeated requests this was never supplied.

One year on, he was still unable to book any holidays so he chose to withdraw from the contract, relying on the rules extending the withdrawal period to 1 year and 14 calendar days. By this stage he had paid EUR 2 730.

The trader would not accept the withdrawal or refund Patrick's money.

Having sought advice from ECC Ireland, Patrick took legal action through the European Small Claims procedure, and the court ruled in his favour. Yet the trader still did not pay up. Following intervention by ECC Malta, Patrick finally got his money back.

EU legislation

Need more information on rules in a specific country?

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