- I was told I could rent to cover the cost of the timeshare.
- I was told maintenance fees could be eliminated.
- I was told the timeshare was an investment with equity – easy to resell.
- I was told I could easily refinance.
- I was told that if I did not convert to points, my heirs would be responsible.
After Inside Timeshare has heard from several timeshare buyers who were sold on the benefit of renting to cover the costs of loan payments and maintenance fees. If the timeshare contract states that renting is allowed, then reading the contract does not help to determine that renting to cover costs is not a feasible strategy. The contract rescission period does not help, because no one would attempt to rent a newly purchased timeshare while on vacation. It’s not until the buyer attempts to rent for income that he or she learns of hidden fees and other obstacles. If the buyer counted on renting, they find themselves with no choice but to default. Based on reports from those who purchased from a total of seven developers, this false claim is happening industry-wide.
Report 6 of 6: Timeshare Renting by an Air Force Veteran, currently enlisted with the Air National Guard
Prior Reports Submitted by Active Duty Navy, Marines, and Air Force Service Members:
Report 1 of 6: Active Duty Navy, Chief Petty Officer, 14 years served
Report 2: Marine Veteran, 26 years served, security clearance
Report 3: Active Duty Navy, 12 years served
Report 4: Active Duty Navy, 18 years served
Report 5: Husband & Wife, both Active Duty Air Force 10, 9 years
Several Westgate buyers have reported that they were encouraged to rent for income. A team of frustrated Westgate owners filed a public records request with the Florida Attorney General. They received approximately 500 Westgate complaints. Buying based on the assured ability to rent to cover costs is a common theme. It is illegal to record a sales presentation in Florida without the other party being aware, so complaints are routinely dismissed as unsubstantiated.
Westgate Timeshare Hostages is a Facebook group launched late December of 2021. Membership has already exceeded 800 members. https://www.facebook.com/groups/westgatehostages
We have heard from several Bluegreen Vacations owners and members who have had their accounts suspended because of “suspected” commercial activity. Unlike Westgate, it is relatively easy to let others use Bluegreen points. Bluegreen’s suspicion of prohibited commercial activity is based only on reservations made in names other than the account holder. We will be hearing from several Bluegreen members in upcoming articles who say they were encouraged by sales agents to buy additional points to rent to offset maintenance fees.
Leave renting for profit to the professionals, like KOALA, an innovative rental platform that researches listings so that renters are assured that what they thought they rented is what they actually rented. https://tarda.org/f/a-new-timeshare-rental-platform
I am enlisted with the Air National Guard with veteran status and benefits. I plan to serve a minimum of 20 years. I have a security clearance.
In September of 2021, my family of three purchased a 4 BR Westgate Resorts unit at Westgate Lakes in Orlando. We were assured of the ability to rent to cover the cost of the timeshare, and to earn income. After learning that renting to cover even just the cost of the timeshare is all but impossible, I reached out to After Inside Timeshare and was referred to Westgate’s Legacy department. In their dismissal, included below, they asked me to provide the reason why national security is threatened. The reason is because a loan default can lead to the loss of a security clearance, which can lead to involuntary separation from service. I counted on the ability to rent to cover the cost of the timeshare. We would have never purchased a 4 BR timeshare for just the three of us.
Our Westgate sales agent, Harry, said they had a deal for us because someone was giving up a 4 BR unit. Harry said if we ever wanted to sell the timeshare we could, mentioning that the original price was $75,000. Our purchase price was $50,954.42. Our down payment was $4,799 and we financed $44,711.19. Our monthly payments are $667 per month. We have learned that we would be lucky to receive a small fraction of the purchase price on resale, and resale would be impossible with an outstanding loan.
Our purchase included “Unlimited Getaways” that Harry encouraged us to buy and then sell to others. He explained that the variable rate for a week ranged from $49 to $399, but we could turn around and sell the week for $1,000, or whatever the market would bear. Harry said one owner rents her unit out online with Airbnb and Westgate doesn’t touch any of the money, adding that theoretically, we could rent out Getaways every week of the year. Westgate has a policy about renting, but Harry explained that there is a loophole so that the owner gets the money instead of Westgate. The money we would receive could go towards maintenance fees. We would also be reimbursed if Westgate made money using our property when we didn’t use it. Harry said our unit was our property year-round so we would be entitled to income year-round. He said Westgate would pay us more in a year than our annual maintenance fees, which are $1,666. Harry had said our maintenance fees would be under $1,100.
Before we went to sign documents, Harry said we should not mention anything we discussed. This was understandable, considering the loophole. He said he wanted to go out to dinner, but when I called he did not respond. He has yet to reach out to us about our concerns, despite offering to give us any assistance we might need.
We booked a week in 2022 planning to pay the maintenance fees for 2022. My fiance called Westgate and was told the resort would charge us $400 for each reservation. That was not what we were told. There were other obstacles. Three or four Westgate customer service representatives provided evasive answers that did not address our direct questions as to how to make this timeshare work as a rental investment.
I filed a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on April 18, 2022. I also filed a complaint with the Florida Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission, and Seniors Vs Crime, a Special Project of the Florida Attorney General. I also reached out to ARDA via their Responsible Exit website: https://responsibleexit.com/
The fact remains that our small family of three would NEVER HAVE PURCHASED A 4 BEDROOM UNIT were it not for being sold on the ability to rent to cover costs.
Response from Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa to the Florida Attorney General’s office
February 11, 2022
Karla Castaneda, Office of Citizen Services, Florida Attorney General’s Office
Dear Ms Castaneda,
Westgate’s corporate office is in receipt of your correspondence regarding Mr. xxx’s complaint. We appreciate the opportunity to respond. First and foremost, we ask you to understand that the consumer’s entire complaint is a litany of verbal allegations. Contrary to Mr. xxx’s belief, the recording of Westgate closings has voluntarily been in effect for training and quality assurance purposes for well over thirteen years.
Allow us to briefly clarify Mr. xxx’s ownership in order to clarify exactly what he contracted with Westgate. On September 14, 2021, he purchased an ALL-season week in a 4-Bedroom Lock-Off Villa for use every year with the first occupancy in 2022 at the Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa. We ask him to keep in mind that he purchased under the Floating Use Plan, wherein he does not own the use of a specific unit, but a certain unit type, based on availability. Therefore, he has the right to occupy his villa at his home resort during his current year and season of ownership without being charged additional fees. We can confirm for Mr XXXX that full and fair disclosure of these purchase terms was provided on the day of sale.
Allow us to also clarify that Mr. xxx is well within his rights to rent as he sees fit. However, as acknowledged on his signed and initialled Acknowledgement of Representations (AOR) document, he affirmed in paragraph 3 that no representations have been made as to investment or resale potential and that the purchase is primarily for personal use and not investment purposes. Furthermore, it was also affirmed in paragraph 5 that Westgate has no form of resale or rental program, and no salesperson is authorized to make any representations to the contrary. We have attached a copy of this document for further review.
By his own admission, he willingly moved forward in a presentation wherein he was allegedly advised to withhold information during his closing. We can confirm that the entire closing process, as well as the AOR, are designed to raise questions if there is anything at all amiss, whether intentional or otherwise. Additionally, the fact that the AOR is present and at their disposal during the signing, as well as later when they are within their state-mandated rescission period, clearly evidences Westgate’s attempt to be transparent and dissuade both misunderstandings and misrepresentations. This is further evidenced by Westgate’s voluntary process of removing the sales representatives from the closing process altogether once the purchase terms have been clarified. In choosing not to raise any questions or concerns about what was allegedly presented to them, they effectively removed any attempt by Westgate to protect both itself and the consumer. We understand Mr xxx’s concern regarding the Legacy Program. Allow us to clarify that to qualify for this program, the account must be up-to-date, and the mortgage paid off, among other criteria. At this time, his account does not qualify.
Ms Castaneda, Westgate’s review has concluded that Mr. xxx’s contract is valid and enforceable. We encourage him to provide documentation for further review by Corporate Counsel of how his legally binding timeshare purchase is a threat to national security. If he requires further assistance with his account, we encourage him to contact our Account Services
Department at 1-888-999-0101.
Owner Relations Correspondence
A pending lawsuit accusing Westgate of violating the Military Lending Act:
Westgate Resorts PDF Link: Westgate Case No 8;22CV-0028-CEH-JSS
Rental complaints submitted by 24 members/owners, who purchased from Westgate Resorts (13) Vacation Village (2), Branson’s Nantucket (3), Exploria (1), Upcoming Bluegreen (6) (Developer 5, 3 resolved) (Developer 6, 1 resolved), Diamond Resorts Upcoming (1)
Are my Consumer Rights being eroded? Westgate by Benn Dover (1) February 25, 2022
Nine Westgate Families (2 – 10) March 4, 2022
Exploria v Austin Aaronson (1) March 11, 2022
Sheri Vacation Village (1 + 1 upcoming) March 18, 2022
Westgate by Abdur Rashid (11) April 22, 2022
Jackie’s Vacays Westgate (12) June 10, 2022
Branson’s Nantucket (3) May 13, 2022
This is the last of the reports in our series that were all prepared for Military Consumer Month, we would like to thank all those who contributed their stories and all the volunteers who have assisted in their preparation, especially Irene Parker. We received and continue to receive very similar complaints from Serving Military to Veterans, some of these are being prepared for publication, and we hope that they do not have to be published, as always we submit them before publication to the developers and hope for a resolution.
What these stories really highlight is the conspiracy of silence and denial, not just from the developers but also the elected lawmakers. We have seen numerous AGs who side with the industry to the detriment of consumers, this has to stop. It is not just the Military but all consumers who are being harmed by this conspiracy that allows Sales Agents to lie & cheat out of sheer greed. They are employed by the developers, the developers should be responsible and held accountable for their sales agents, lawmakers and AGs need to decide if they are there for the people who voted for them or the ones who funded their election campaign.
Timeshare was once a great concept, unfortunately, it has been “bastardized” by pure greed, we see this in virtually all the articles we publish including Europe. Timeshare has become the new word for “FRAUD” and the industry is responsible for that image.
Coming up on Monday we have a look at a briefing paper prepared by the House of Commons Library, these are publicly available and are designed for MPs to get acquainted with a subject which may be up for debate or being investigated by numerous committees. This report is titled “Timeshares: common problems faced by UK owners”, it was researched and written by Lorraine Conway, who considering she more than likely has no actual experience of timeshare has done a good job. All we can hope is it gets the attention it needs.
That is it for this week, the weekend beckons along with the couch and TV, that is if Baby Dog will let me on, so have a great weekend and join us again next week.