Amid falling real estate prices, timeshares are taking it on the chin. Scams have proliferated in recent months by firms claiming to have found a buyer, or charging an advance fee to try and sell a property.
In Massachusetts, Attorney General Martha Coakley is dealing with a different timeshare issue. She has just entered into a settlement with several timeshare resorts and their owners for allegedly marketing and selling intervals for Cape Cod time-share resorts but failing to properly record those intervals as required by law.
According to the settlement, the defendants marketed and sold timeshare intervals for four Cape Cod time-share resorts: Soundings Seaside Resort, Breakers Ocean View Resort, Breakers Ocean Front Resort, and Edgewater Beach Resort ("Cape Cod Resortsâ€).
Required to record the deed
Under the Massachusetts Real Estate Time-Share Act, the defendants were required to record a deed or notice of license within days of selling the time-share interval. Instead, the defendants allegedly failed to record deeds or notices of license with the Barnstable County Registry of Deeds for months or even years, despite representing to consumers who had purchased time-shares that their time-shares were properly recorded.
The Assurance of Discontinuance, filed in Suffolk Superior Court against Soundings Seaside Resort, LLC, Breakers Resort, LLC, New England Resort Marketing, LLC, Leon D. Narbonne, Sr. and Gordon Clark III, prohibits the defendants from marketing, advertising, or selling time-share intervals in Massachusetts without properly recording time-share intervals pursuant to the Massachusetts Real Estate Time-Share Act.
The defendants must also record all deeds and/or notices of licenses by February 9, 2011 of timeshares previously sold to consumers, and provide consumers with copies of those deeds or licenses by April 11, 2011.
In addition, the Assurance provides for a payment of $100,000 to the Commonwealth for penalties. However, the Commonwealth will suspend collection of $75,000 provided the defendants comply with the terms of the Assurance and record all outstanding time-share deeds and/or notices of licenses.
"Failing to record time-shares pursuant to the law puts consumers' property interests in these time-shares at risk,â€ Coakley said. "This agreement ensures that those consumers' property rights are protected, and that the defendants will take their responsibilities as time-share owners seriously and abide by the law.â€
In a separate but related lawsuit filed on August 2, 2010, in Suffolk Superior Court, Coakley obtained a preliminary injunction against a Cape Cod man and his business. According to the complaint Christopher Moss and the company he founded, Timeshare Consulting Group, LLC, promised consumers he could obtain full refunds of the purchase price for their respective time-shares because the Cape Cod Resorts owners' failed to record the time-share intervals.
Moss allegedly misrepresented to consumers that he was an expert in time-share and consumer law and solicited consumers by mail, telephone, and face-to-face meetings, for his services as a time-share consultant. Moss allegedly collected $495 from consumers who had purchased time-share intervals at the Cape Cod Resorts in order to prepare complaint letters to send to the Attorney General's Office and the Cape Cod Resort owners.
The complaint alleges that Moss solicited consumers for his services by deceptively representing the complexity of the complaint process, and urging consumers to hurry because the statute of limitations on their claims would soon expire. Moss did not disclose that consumers are able to file complaints with the Attorney General at no charge.
On August 12, 2010, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Frank Gaziano granted a preliminary injunction against Moss and Timeshare Consulting Group, prohibiting them from representing that they are time-share law experts; contacting any Massachusetts resident to offer time-share consulting services; soliciting or accepting a payment for filing complaint forms with the Attorney General's Office; and engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
The Federal Trade Commission offers advice about what you need to know when buying and selling a time-share.