Owners of timeshares in the United States are fortunate to have their vacation ownership protected and regulated the way it is. Consider this:
In St Maarten sensible regulation and laws that clearly guide developers and owners are desperately needed to protect the timeshare owners and developers as well.
Not too long ago, after Diamond Resorts took over the Royal Palm Beach Resort in Simpson Bay, a special assessment was billed to an owner that amounted to nearly $100,00! The timeshare management company decided to change the way whole ownership contracts calculated their maintenance fee and started treating them just like timeshare week owners.
So Diamond simply multiplied the owner’s maintenance fee times 52 weeks and billed them for over $50,000 – due immediately.
Wasn’t there some law that governed the way timeshare developers calculated maintenance fees? Not exactly. Many other islands in the Caribbean have clear rules and laws that control such bizarre practices. Just not St Maarten.
In an effort to get this and other problems under control owners pushed for new legislation that would limit their responsibility for paying for some of the timeshare resort expenses, and require the developer or management company to submit an audited budget annually and before proposing making any major changes.
By the time the law was written the two concerns just mentioned were ignored and instead an additional 40% tax was slapped on the timeshare owners.
As a result, by 2013 36,000 timeshare owners had sold, given away, or abandoned their timeshares.
Continuing in the same reckless way, “In 2014, the timeshare industry reached a new low after Alegria Real Estate bought the Caravanserai Beach Resort in Beacon Hill at auction. The new owner voided all timeshare contracts, which resulted in another truckload of negative publicity . . . ” (source)
Most of these problems are still working their way through the courts. It would be wise for St Maarten to put laws in place that help everyone make sense out of the way timeshare resorts are managed and how the nature of timeshare vacations are contractually defined.
An ounce of prevention. Right?
How would you buy or sell a timeshare in St Maarten?