Why is this important?
What is a timeshare?
When you buy a timeshare, you buy the right to use a holiday property for a set amount of time each year. This will often be part of a holiday resort but it could be a caravan or a canal boat.
Some timeshares are protected by special regulations, called The Timeshare, Holiday Products, Resale and Exchange Regulations, or Timeshare Regulations, for short.
If you’ve got a timeshare covered by these regulations, you get special protection, such as the right to a cooling-off period when you can cancel the agreement if you change your mind.
This page helps you work out whether you’ve got a timeshare, and whether you’re protected by the regulations.
What you need to know
Timeshare agreements signed in a European Economic Area (EEA) country are protected by The Timeshare Regulations. Check if your timeshare agreement is covered by the timeshare regulations.
For more advice on timeshare agreements signed in Europe outside the UK, contact the UK European Consumer Centre (ECC). They will help you try and sort out your problem with the timeshare company and can give you legal advice. Go to: www.ukecc.net, or telephone their consumer helpline on: 08456 04 05 03
What is a timeshare?
When you buy a timeshare, you usually make a one-off payment for the number of weeks you want to spend in the property. You get the right to use each week you have bought, either for a certain number of years or indefinitely depending on the terms of your contract. For example, you might pay £10,000 to buy the second week in May in a one-bedroom apartment in Tenerife for 20 years. On top of the one-off payment, you usually have to pay yearly maintenance charges.
Other kinds of holiday agreements
If this doesn’t sound like your holiday agreement, you may have joined a holiday club.
Buying membership of a holiday club promises you the chance to buy cheaper holidays from a particular company. Holiday clubs are different from timeshares because you aren't buying the right to stay in a property for a set time each year.
You may have another type of holiday agreement that isn’t a timeshare or a holiday club and so won’t be covered by the timeshare regulations. For example, it might be:
- multiple accommodation bookings – for example, an agreement between you and a hotel to book a room for a series of stays over a period of more than one year
- lease agreements for a continuous period – for example, a long-term holiday let
- a hotel loyalty scheme – as long as no charge is made for belonging to the scheme.
You have probably signed a timeshare agreement if you’ve:
- chosen a particular holiday apartment or resort and
- bought a particular week of the year - for example the second week in July.
You have probably signed a holiday club agreement if you have been promised discounts on:
- a range of accommodation or flights
- holidays in more than one destination.
Is your agreement covered by timeshare regulations?
To work out whether your holiday agreement is covered by the timeshare regulations, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- did you sign your agreement on or after the 23 February 2011?
- did you sign it in a European Economic Area (EEA) country which has enforced the timeshare laws ? – some EEA countries haven’t
- are you a consumer? This means you bought the timeshare for your own use and not for business reasons
- does your agreement last for at least one year, or can be renewed to last for at least a year?
- does it give you the right to stay over-night in holiday property for more than one night?
- did you agree to pay for your agreement?
- was your agreement with a company and not a private individual?
If you can answer yes to all these questions, this means your agreement is probably covered by the timeshare regulations. The regulations give you special cancellation rights if you change your mind about the agreement and other kinds of protection if you have problems.
To find out about your right to cancel a timeshare agreement you’ve bought recently, see You’ve changed your mind about a timeshare agreement
To find out how to get out of a timeshare agreement you’ve had for some time, see You don’t want to carry on with your timeshare ownership
For more about which countries are in the European Economic Area and which countries haven't put the Timeshare Regulations into force, see Is your timeshare or holiday club agreement covered by the timeshare regulations?
Other useful information
For more help with dealing with timeshare companies contact:
Telephone: 0845 230 2430
Resort Development Organisation
For more help with queries about timeshares outside Europe, go to www.arda.org