Ask RedWeek / October, 2013

Florida Timesharing Act - how does it affect me?

What is the recently revised Florida Timesharing Act, and how does it affect me?

A new law was recently passed in Florida, in an effort to curb timeshare transfer companies often referred to "Viking ships." These transfer companies convince timeshare owners to pay large upfront fees in exchange for removing their name from the property title (relieving them of ongoing maintenance fees). These companies have no intention of paying ongoing fees, and transfer the title to off-shore companies (thus the Viking reference, sending the titles 'out to sea'). The foreign companies make it harder for Associations to collect and/or foreclose for non-payment of fees, and the remaining owners may be burdened as a result.

The new bill, Florida H/B 7025 was signed into law June 12, 2013 by Florida Governor Rick Scott. It is an amendment to the Florida Vacation Plan and Timesharing Act, and does a few things:

  1. Helps HOAs foreclose on these abandoned properties, allowing them to put new owners into the timeshare units who will pay the fees. If you own a timeshare in Florida, this benefits you, since the viking ships' unpaid fees means rising maintenance costs (and frustration) for the remaining owners who do pay.
  2. Introduced new requirements that anyone holding an escrow in Florida be licensed and bonded - creating a barrier for unscrupulous resellers.
  3. The additional regulation may make closings on Florida properties more difficult and expensive. If you are attempting to sell a Florida timeshare, you can expect those costs to be higher.

The bill is a step in the right direction to stopping these illegal activities, but it only helps owners of Florida timeshares, and doesn't completely get rid of the Viking ship problem. We would like to see more states pass similar bills, and more effort made to eliminate these fraudulent timeshare resale companies.

This month's question was answered in conjunction with Judi Kozlowski P.A., RE/MAX Properties SW, Inc.

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