Directive 2008/122/EC protects consumers in respect of certain aspects of timeshare, long-term holiday product, resale and exchange contracts. It establishes new rules to enhance consumer protection and extends its scope to include new products, namely ‘timeshare like products’, which have emerged in the market. For instance, the new Directive regulates holiday discount clubs besides resale and exchange. Furthermore, being a complete harmonisation directive, these new rules ensure that consumers are equally protected across the EU.


A ‘timeshare contract’ is defined as “a contract of a duration of more than one year under which a consumer, for consideration, acquires the right to use one or more overnight accommodation for more than one period of occupation”.

The meaning of timeshare is a property shared by multiple people for a specified period throughout the year as agreed on in the contract, for ex. one week or one month. In other words, you, as a consumer, when entering into a timeshare contract, will be sharing the cost of the property with the other buyers. In return, you will be guaranteed the use of the said property for some time per year as agreed on in advance.

The requirement of information is one of the main elements of this Directive. It provides detailed rules on pre-contractual information.

In the Directive, it is stipulated that during the time before any contract or offer binds the consumer, the trader shall provide the consumer, in a clear and comprehensible manner, with accurate and sufficient information in the case of a timeshare contract, a long-term holiday product contract, a resale contract and an exchange contract. This information shall be provided, free of charge, by the trader on paper or on another durable medium that is easily accessible to the consumer through the standard information forms as provided in the Annexes to the Directive.

There is also the obligation on the trader’s part to ensure that the choice of the consumer, the information is drawn up in the language of the MS in which the consumer is resident or national.  This requirement is subject to the condition of the language being an official language of the EU MS.

EU rules give protection against rogue traders when signing contracts for timeshares or long-term holiday schemes to the consumers.

The rules protect you when signing:

Resale Contracts – engaging a professional to help you sell or buy a timeshare or holiday club membership.

Exchange contracts – the consumer pays an amount to join a scheme allowing them to use the accommodation or other services while allowing others to make temporary use of their timeshare.

These rights extend to different types of the timeshare property, including:

  • Cruise boats;
  • Caravans;
  • Canal boats.

The consumer must also be given a 14-day period of withdrawal, without the need of giving any reason for such withdrawal, commencing after the date that the contract is signed or from the day the consumer receives such contract or agreement if such date is later than the date of the signing of the agreement. This 14-day withdrawal does not apply to timeshare agreements only but also to long-term holiday products, resale or exchange contracts.

If the consumers exercise their right of withdrawal, they shall not bear any costs or be liable for any value corresponding to the service which may have been performed before the withdrawal.

During these 14 days, the seller cannot demand payment from you and thus, you are not entitled to give any deposits or other payments. Where the demand for payment is made during this period, you can demand a full refund of the amount paid. In the case of reselling, you are not required to pay anything unless the resale takes place.

The Directive bans advance payments on timeshare, long-term holiday product and exchange contracts before the end of the withdrawal period. For long-term holiday product contracts, payment shall be made according to a staggered payment schedule. Any payment of the price specified in the contract is prohibited.

In the case of a long–term holiday product contract, the consumer may exercise the right of withdrawal by giving notice to the trader within 14 calendar days of receiving the payment request.

The consumers may not waive the rights enlisted in the Directive where the applicable law is the member state’s law.

Where the applicable law is that of a third country, the rights in the Directive cannot be deprived if the immovable property concerned is situated within the territory of the member state.

The Directive applies to all contracts relating to immovable property and commercial or professional activities directed to a member state, and the contract falls within the remits of such activities.

You should be aware of:

Unlawful misleading sales techniques such as winning scratch cards or any voucher, in this scenario, you will win a prize. However, in most cases, there will be the obligation to collect it at a timeshare sale event, then you will be asked to attend the presentation and consequently pressed into signing a contract.

Suspicious timeshare resale offers. You may be persuaded to attend another timeshare meeting in order to buy a new property. In some cases, they will even promise of selling the existing one. You may end up with two timeshare properties not desired or needed.

The Timeshare seller cannot limit one’s right to privately sell, rent out or exchange timeshare rights, restrict access to services or raise maintenance payments without justification. Where this occurs, the contract may not be binding.


Useful Tips

  • Read the offer attentively
  • Get a copy of the agreement before signing
  • Consider the costs having a timeshare will add to your expenses
  • Do not pay during the cooling-off period.
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