Cynthia DavidCynthia David&&
January 13, 2021

Timeshares and COVID-19: Where Can We Go from Here?

Here we are, in the middle of a pandemic that no one foresaw. With all the unknowns surrounding this pandemic, people are now forced into a “new normal.” As a society, we are learning how to adjust, but the situation is complicated and carries with it many questions on how to move forward and enjoy our lives. More specifically, timeshare owners want to know how to enjoy their ownership. They want to know, where they can go from here?

Is it Safe?

Understandably, COVID-19 is still a major concern while traveling. Many people are anxious, but the timeshare industry has taken immediate action to make sure that its owners are safe and that concerns are satisfied.

Since reopening after the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic, many properties are constantly sanitizing high frequency touch surfaces, such as elevator buttons, handrails, door handles/knobs, switches, and other flat surfaces. The traffic flow throughout many properties has now been altered to allow for six-foot enhanced social distancing in public spaces, such as lobbies, fitness centers, the pool, and public restrooms. Moreover, numerous properties are installing hand sanitizing stations in high traffic public spaces and requiring the use of masks in indoor public areas. Some places are also providing sanitation wipes and hand sanitizers upon check-in.

In addition to the enhanced sanitation efforts of the facilities, many timeshares have implemented additional training for their staffs to ensure owner safety. Also, some properties have mandated additional requirements such as daily health screenings, the use of touchless engagement tools, mandatory masks, and partitions. In some resorts, some staff members wear an additional layer of personal protective equipment when cleaning the facilities. The staff is integral for a great stay, and the timeshare industry is making the effort to ensure that the quality of staff interaction stays the same while remaining safe.

Cleanliness has been the ultimate standard for the timeshare business. With the introduction of this unforeseen pandemic, the industry has responded accordingly with heightened standards and expanded protocols. The timeshare industry cares about the owner experience and will continue to rise to the challenges created.

What About the Points?

As timeshare owners are aware, timeshare points are a significant aspect of being a timeshare owner within a resort. Points equate to currency, allowing owners to purchase vacations, tickets to amusement parks, rental cars, dining, and other forms of entertainment. Nevertheless, despite how important points are, they do expire and were not designed to last forever. Typically, points expire within a year, and with the expiration of points looming, owners are concerned.  Many were not able to use their points because of restrictions created by this pandemic, so naturally the owners want to know what will happen to their points.

To respond to these circumstances, the timeshare industry has acted quickly to meet the needs of its owners. Some timeshare companies have automatically extended the use year of points by one or two years. Other timeshare companies have given some owners the option to roll over their existing points into the next use year, and others have actually paused the expiration of points. Some companies who have partnered with entities like Resorts Condominiums International, aka RCI, have automatically deposited owner points and have extended the use year of the current points for two additional years. A multitude of timeshare companies have also allowed owners to cancel reservations made with their points without any penalties.

COVID-19 and its effects on many timeshare owners have prevented the use of points earned or purchased. It is understood that points are a perk that all owners should enjoy using without the interference of uncontrollable circumstances. Even though these are unprecedented times, the timeshare industry understands the value of points and has immediately implemented practices to help its owners protect what they have earned.

Economic Hardships

COVID-19 has caused a severe downturn in the world’s economy and disruption to how many individuals provide for their families. A lot of what individuals could afford before the pandemic has become out of reach. As of August 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate in the US was at 8.4 percent and the number of unemployed persons was at 13.6 million people. Unfortunately, many of the individuals who lost jobs or suffered dips in income are loyal owners to many timeshare companies.

These extraordinary economic circumstances have now forced people to choose between what is necessary and what they can pay for despite their desires. Understanding that many owners are facing unexpected financial hardships, many timeshare companies have created options of relief to help alleviate some of that burden. If an owner has fallen behind on their maintenance fees, some timeshare companies are offering, to qualified owners, fee deferments, payment plans, or payment relief. Other qualifying owners who are delinquent with their loan payments have been offered hardship assistance such as forbearance. Some companies have even made the choice to postpone or halt any legal action in relation to delinquencies created by this pandemic.

The impact of COVID-19 on families was swift and created severe economic difficulties. These times are very hard, and it is understood that people have a lot to worry about other than their timeshare ownerships. For that reason, options were created. Ownership matters, and the financial options available will help the owner protect their timeshare.

This publication is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an opinion of Manley Deas Kochalski LLC.
Do not rely on this publication without seeking legal counsel.