Governor Rick Scott said in approving House Bill 453 last week was this: “This bill makes various revisions to the Florida Vacation Plan and Timesharing Act.” That’s not much of an explanation of the new timeshare law, is it? Did any Florida residents ask for this law? No. Was there any explanation as to who this law benefited? No.
The contents of the new law make it obvious that it favors the timeshare developers over the consumer in a huge way. First, there is the elimination of a cap which currently limits annual increases in property taxes and certain common area resort expenses to 125% of the prior year’s cost. Increases in maintenance fees are already confounding and infuriating timeshare owners. Now the state has approved removing the cap to the fees that kept them at least a little under control.
Second, “the bill allows developers to almost unilaterally decide what constitutes ‘compliance’ and ‘materiality’ with regard to mistakes and omissions in contracts.” This was done in an effort to prevent timeshare sales contracts from being nullified by lawyers so that owners could get out of the contract.
Third is a provision which outlines the rights of developers to extend or terminate a timeshare plan at any date. Now let that one sink in for a minute! At first the wording of the law looks like it applies to lease agreements only. Looking further it appears that it could also apply to a developer redefining what points are worth and forcing owners to buy more points in order to maintain their current level of membership or ownership. In other words, legalized price gouging!
Historically, the State of Florida has been thought of as protecting the consumer very well.
With the passing of this law, that reputation will dissolve very quickly in favor of the big resort developers who make regular large contributions to the Florida politicians’ coffers.