There are two types of timeshare interests commonly sold.
First, there are “deeded timeshare interests”, where a customer receives a deed to real property for a partial interest in a specific resort property, which includes a designated unit or unit type (i.e. one bedroom, two bedroom) and a specific allocated time of year (i.e. second week of March, third week of June, etc.).
Second, there are “points-based membership timeshare interests,” in which a customer purchases a club membership and points that can be used at one of several resorts and are not limited to a specific time period or unit type.
This article addresses the rights of customers regarding deeded timeshare interests specifically.
Outside of the time period purchased by the customer, timeshare units and resort properties do not stand still in time.
Many things can happen - both man-made and naturally occurring - which can cause the purchased Timeshare Unit to not be available when a customer tries to book a vacation during their allotted time of year.
There is no universal rule or law providing rights to owners in such circumstances. Some timeshare resorts will allow the customer’s vacation time to be accumulated for use at a later date when the particular unit type (or sometimes the whole property) becomes unavailable for booking due to a natural disaster.
However, even this is not guaranteed, and far too often customers find themselves at the mercy of their timeshare company and ultimately left with nothing.
It becomes necessary, then, to look to the laws of the state the timeshare property is located in to determine what legal relief, if any, is available to the customer.
Due to popularity and high tourism of places such as Las Vegas, Reno, and Lake Tahoe, it is not surprising that Nevada has a law specifically addressing the issue of timeshare unit type availability.
NRS 119A.510 provides, “If a unit is unavailable for a period to which the owner is entitled by schedule or by confirmed reservations, the owner is entitled to be provided by the association (1) a comparable unit or (2) monetary compensation for the loss of such use.”
The statute is worded in such a way as to cover all circumstances under which a unit may be unavailable to the customer for booking.
However, Nevada is unique in this regard, and many other states do not have specific laws in place to protect customers in such situations.
California, for example, which regulates timeshare interests under the Vacation Ownership and Time-Share Act of 2004, does not have any statutory provision to protect customers’ rights in the event of their particular unit or unit type being unavailable for booking during the designated time period.
While the recourse available to a customer in the case of a natural disaster may be limited, there are often more options for relief in instances where the Timeshare Unit is unavailable as a result of actions taken by the Resort itself.
For instance, a particular Timeshare Unit may be unavailable to a customer for booking due to the Resort overbooking or overselling the same unit type and time.
In this case, the Resort has committed a fraud upon the purchaser by selling something which the Resort knew or reasonably should have known it would be unable to fulfill.
Additionally, if the Resort has failed to have maintenance performed or otherwise caused the Timeshare Unit to be unavailable at the given time due to neglect, the Resort has breached its contract with the buyer.