ARDA Insights Blog                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

2013: A Busy Year of Promoting and Advancing Interests of Timeshare Owners

(Legislation, International) Permanent link

2013: A Busy Year of Promoting and Advancing Interests of Timeshare Owners 

By ARDA State Affairs 

November 12, 2013

Many of you will hear from ARDA staff later this week at ARDA’s Fall Conference in Washington, DC that this has been one of the busiest years on record for timeshare legislative activity at the state level.  

More than 25 bills in 13 states were introduced, passed, or killed in 2013 to protect the legislative interests of timeshare developers, timeshare associations, management companies, and timeshare owners.

A few highlights include:

--Resale and transfer company legislation was introduced in Florida, Colorado, South Carolina, and Massachusetts that will provide specific guidelines related to resellers and transfer companies

--Streamlining the Nevada Real Estate Division’s process of issuing a timeshare public offering statement (POS)

--Killing two proposed “take-back” bills introduced in Massachusetts and Vermont

--Passing three bills in Hawaii, including one that provides for voluntary de-registration of timeshare fee interests from the Land Court to the regular system at the Bureau of Conveyances

--Helping the governments of St. Maarten and Jamaica introduce comprehensive timeshare legislation that benefits developers and owners alike

You can read more details about each piece of legislation in the October issue of Developments magazine. We will also be updating attendees about our legislative priorities for 2014 during ARDA’s Fall Conference.

We are very proud of the work and the efforts of everyone involved—including timeshare owners—to help us achieve the many legislative successes. We look forward to continuing our progress into 2014.  

 

ARDA Fall Conference 2013: Why You Need to Be in D.C. on November 13

(Meetings and Events, Initiatives and Trends, Legislation) Permanent link

ARDA Fall Conference 2013: Why You Need to Be in D.C. on November 13 

By Catherine Lacey, Vice President of Meetings and Conventions

November 7, 2013 

ARDA Fall Conference 2013

The shutdown is over and D.C. is back! There is no better place to kick-off the next year of ARDA’s success than right here in our nation’s capital for Fall Conference.  

The most valuable networking events, meetings, and expert panels in the industry will all be in one place for ARDA’s Fall Conference 2013—Wednesday, November 13, through Friday, November 15th.

What trip to D.C. would be complete without insight from the city’s top policy experts? This year, ARDA proudly features two exciting keynote speakers from right here inside the beltway. Get your toughest questions answered by tax policy professional Kevin Hassett, an economist who will share useful advice from his years of work as an economic advisor to prominent politicians.

And be sure to stick around until day three to hear from experienced political analyst and journalist Charlie Cook. Cook has written for some of your favorite sources for the latest in politics and is known for his applauded political newsletter, The Cook Report. Attendees of Fall Conference boast a peek inside Washington that non-locals usually miss.

Plus, be among the first to get an exclusive sneak preview of the new and improved ARDA consumer site, VacationBetter.org. Benefit from previewing what your customers will see when they search for reliable, comprehensive information on the industry and product.

If you’ve attended Fall Conference before, you know how important it is to be a part of the inner circle that crafts ARDA’s plan for the year. If this is your first year attending, you won’t want to miss the countless networking opportunities and insider tips that Fall Conference offers. We look forward to seeing you and your fellow timeshare professionals in the District on November 13! 

 

Transient Accommodations Tax Continues To Be a Threat to Owners

(Legislation) Permanent link

Transient Accommodations Tax Continues To Be a Threat to Owners  

By ARDA State Affairs

September 18, 2013 

Transient accommodations tax (TAT) proposals continue to pop up on local and state legislative agendas around the country keeping ARDA State Affairs & ARDA-ROC busy.

Operating on deficits, state legislatures see TATs as way to generate revenue. Despite these efforts, Hawaii is currently the only state to tax timeshare owners occupying their own unit, or exchange guests occupying a unit swapped with another owner.

ARDA and ARDA-ROC’s position continues to be that the use of a timeshare unit by an owner or exchange guest should not be taxed like a rental, and we oppose efforts to impose such taxes on an occupancy that generates no revenues. From time to time, we will need to immediately inform impacted owners in specific states or local jurisdictions to voice their concern to local lawmakers. It is our intent to keep HOAs informed of legislation so should the need arise, we can quickly mobilize owners.

For those who would like further information on the issue of TATs and the impact on owners, developers and vacation products in general, a policy brief is available on ARDA-ROC’s website. 

 

Progress Continues on Transfer & Relief Company Regulation

(Legislation) Permanent link

Progress Continues on Transfer & Relief Company Regulation  

By ARDA State Affairs

September 5, 2013 

We at ARDA, and as an industry, continue to pursue solutions to help solve the growing problems with illegitimate transfer companies and the far-reaching consequences they have on HOAs and owners.  

There are challenges beyond finding an illegitimate company after it has taken money from unknowing owners. HOAs are burdened with unpaid and uncollectible fees and taxes from the timeshare property, while significant time and money must be spent by the HOA on the foreclosure process to recapture the interest. Maintenance fees rise to deal with the problem, leading to more and more delinquent owners, and the possibility of HOA bankruptcy. As a result, the effect on owners leads to negative perceptions toward the resort or HOA.  

To date, ARDA-ROC has successfully lobbied for legislation in four states—Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and Texas—with similar legislation pending in Massachusetts and South Carolina. Legislative solutions include the requirement of a written agreement between a consumer and transfer company, escrow for any payment of upfront fees by a consumer, and serious penalties for someone who knowingly transfers a timeshare interest to a person or entity with no intention of meeting its ownership obligations.

ARDA’s State Affairs team continues to work with state legislators and regulators to ensure that any enforcement mechanism (legislative or otherwise) gives proper protection to timeshare owners as well as legal consequences for the companies participating in bad business practices. Click here to learn more about ARDA-ROC’s position on this issue and others. 

 

Florida Passes Bill to Improve Foreclosure Process and Provide Relief to Timeshare HOAs in Board Elections

(Legislation) Permanent link

Florida Passes Bill to Improve Foreclosure Process and Provide Relief to Timeshare HOAs in Board Elections

July 1, 2013 

Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed into law HB 7025 which, effective today, will help HOAs by further reducing time and costs in the lien foreclosure process.  

The bill also provides consumer protections for owners transferring ownership of their timeshares. This was a collective effort by ARDA-ROC, ARDA’s state affairs team, and Timeshare Closing Services, who provided valuable insight into the resale and transfer process in order to ensure the Attorney General’s office and the Federal Trade Commission knew the complexities of the transfer process.

For consumers, the bill means access to more information as well as protecting any monies paid by consumers for transfer services until the services are fully performed, and weeding out unscrupulous transfer companies by allowing action to be taken against them.

Businesses that offer to assist owners in the transfer of Florida timeshares must first provide a written agreement outlining terms and conditions of the offered services, and must place all funds received from the owner into an escrow account until the transfer has been completed. Businesses that offer transfer services—and participate in a plan or scheme to transfer timeshares to people or business entities that they know are not going to pay maintenance fees—will now be held accountable for their actions.

For more information, visit ARDA-ROC’s Timeshare Resale Resource Center.  

 

ARDA Working Hard to Mitigate the Effect of Agency Cutbacks on Timeshare

(Legislation) Permanent link

ARDA Working Hard to Mitigate the Effect of Agency Cutbacks on Timeshare

By Jason Gamel, ARDA State Affairs

November 6, 2012 

 ARDA Legislation

Timeshare is highly regulated in most states, and is feeling the brunt of recent state agency staff cutbacks. Timeshares usually have to file new projects as well as renew their existing developments every year in order to continue to sell units and vacation packages within that state. For states with many timeshare registrations, this can mean a lot of paperwork. With less government employees fielding this paperwork, backups can occur. In most cases it is against the law for timeshares to sell their product without receiving these reviews and approvals. These backups can be detrimental to the developer, industry, and the economy of tourism. While some states have crafted their own ways to address this issue already, ARDA is stepping in to help do what they can for other states that could be facing this problem now or in the near future.

A handful of states have solved this problem by deregulating. When a state deregulates, it no longer requires the same strict policies of registration, review, and renewals. For example, in 2010, Michigan ruled that timeshare resorts were no longer required to register in the state. This freed up the burden on both timeshare resorts and the state government who had to process each registration.

Arizona also realized it had a problem with managing the filing buildup due to the regulatory requirements. Thus, with ARDA’s help, Arizona legislature passed legislation that included “deemed approved” language, ruling that renewal filings not manually reviewed within 15 days would be automatically accepted in the system. If the state agency finds an error after the filing was accepted, they are authorized to have the developer fix the error.

Nevada retained all current regulation requirements even after experiencing severe cutbacks in staff and budget. Being a popular destination for timeshare sales, and with new projects being completed in Las Vegas, the build-up of un-reviewed timeshare filings began to severely affect the industry. There are initial filings, amendments, and renewals that have been yet to be reviewed dating from six months to two years.

ARDA and its members have been eagerly working with the Nevada Real Estate Division (NRED) and Department of Business and Industry, as well as the Governor and the State Attorney General’s offices, to solve this regulatory dilemma. ARDA plans on working with NRED to introduce legislation that would simplify regulatory procedures and restructure NRED’s budget, allowing for an adequate number of reviewers at all times so that filings will not be delayed in the future.

ARDA is aware of several states that will be experience turnover, staff and budget cutbacks, and trained reviewer retirement. While ARDA has always supported reasonable regulation, the coming years may prove challenging. ARDA is looking into ways to best address these challenges and recreate the balance of good business and consumer protection through sufficient regulation.  

 

The State of Florida: Working Hard for Timeshare Consumers

(Legislation) Permanent link

The State of Florida: Working Hard for Timeshare Consumers 

by Jason Gamel, ARDA State Affairs

May 7, 2012 

Florida Timeshare Resale Accountability Act 

 What do the Florida Office of the Attorney General, Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), and Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) all have in common?

They are all working tirelessly to protect timeshare owners from fraudulent actors in the secondary resale market. In the past six months, the industry has seen the passage of landmark timeshare resales legislation (thank you to Attorney General Bondi and her staff), dozens of investigations and arrests made by DACS related to timeshare resales fraud, and educational efforts spearheaded by DBPR to inform consumers about their rights as timeshare owners. After meeting with representatives from each of these offices this week, I am more convinced than ever that Florida is truly finding ways to help those who take their hard-earned vacations there.

Expect plenty of industry cooperation in the upcoming months to help identify fraudulent businesses (that have targeted timeshare owners as their victims) and to aid in the drafting of future legislation to put more tools in the hands of law enforcement to eradicate fraud in the industry. Along the same lines, expect increased educational efforts to come from the state and the industry that will put consumers in a better position to make good decisions about how they sell their timeshare interests. You can also visit www.arda-roc.org/resales for information related to timeshare resales and other consumer protection issues.

For now, if a consumer wishes to file a formal complaint against a person or company who they suspect may be involved in fraudulent activity, we encourage them to visit the Florida Attorney General’s website, the Florida DBPR website, and the Florida DACS website.

ARDA and ARDA-ROC are very excited about working with these agencies and see great things happening for the industry and consumers in 2012 and beyond.