Getting out of a timeshare contract usually requires hiring a specialized lawyer. But legal services don’t come cheap. So how much should you expect to pay in legal fees to cancel a timeshare? What factors affect the total costs? This guide breaks it down.
How Much do Timeshare Lawyers Cost?
Like with most legal specializations, fees differ widely by experience level, firm size, and location. However, most timeshare cancellation lawyers charge between $3,000-$7,000 on average.
Several factors impact costs:
Your Contract Complexity – Simple, straightforward deals cost less. Ones involving multiple owners, weird clauses, or resales cost more.
Your Resort Group – Big third-party groups often prove cheaper than independent brand resort cancellations involving deeper research.
Your Location – In some states, consumer protection laws favor exit better so lawyers need fewer hours.
Your unique deal specifics influence how lengthy your case becomes. Simpler ones hit the low end at around $3,000. But lengthier battles to untangle complex contracts or sue obscure resorts can reach up to $10,000 when disputes drag out.
According to Timeshare Legal Action, the average cost of timeshare attorneys in California can be as little as $950.00 for a free and clear timeshare.
The Finn Law Group website discusses the average costs of exiting a timeshare contract, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, but it does not provide specific costs for timeshare lawyers.
Reputable attorneys break costs into retainers and stage payments, not all in an upfront fee. A retainer averages from $1,500-$2,500 to start most cases. Signing one formalizes your lawyer-client relationship. From there, stage payments get collected over time as progress happens rather than lump sums.
Beware of any firm asking for full payment prematurely before offering any services. Ethical attorneys prove services before seeking fees. Some warning signs of payment issues:
- Requires full fees after an initial meeting
- Won’t share fee breakdown details
- Vague language about payment stages
Factors Influencing Timeshare Lawyer Costs
Several important factors affect average timeshare lawyer fees and push them toward the low or high end. These include:
- Your Timeshare Contract History – Simple first-owner deals prove cheaper. Ones sold and resold several times have more tangled records raising complexity.
- Timeshare Company Cooperation Level – Some firms readily provide records while others ruthlessly fight exit attempts at every step.
- Applicable State Exit Laws – States like Arizona historically favor exit efforts, unlike places like Florida.
- Need To Litigate – Cases settling pre-trial cost way less than those going through lengthy court battles.
- Attorney Experience – Lawyers newer to timeshare cases often have higher hourly rates and spend longer researching. Veterans cost more upfront but work faster.
Additional Costs Related to Timeshare Cancellation
Beyond direct lawyer fees, other possible expenses to prepare for include:
- Court filing charges – Around $300 if suing firms refusing contract cancellation.
- Service fees – $100+ to officially serve the defendant’s papers about the litigation.
- Contract scrutiny fees – $250+ for forensic reviews of contracts if something seems abnormal.
- Courier fees – Rushing documents costs $25-$50 per instance if needed.
- Contingency reserve – 15%-20% fund in case a trial happens, requiring more lawyer hours.
The Costs of a Timeshare Contract Add Up
Over $9 billion gets spent on timeshares yearly in the U.S. The average buy-in cost was $19,000 back in 2012. To use your week, most places charge annual timeshare maintenance fees too. Those averaged around $660.
That might feel worth it if you vacationed there each year. But you’d likely find cheaper rates on hotels or rental homes for the same dates. Even just the yearly fee could book a nice hotel room for the week.
Not using it enough and growing costs lead many owners to want out. But timeshares come with lengthy contracts not easy to leave. Salespeople often push that it’s good for life and an heirloom to pass down. But your situation can change to make it unaffordable or unusable.
Trying to resell rarely works either. There’s almost no market for secondhand timeshares out there. Many desperate owners get tricked by scammers claiming they have buyers ready.
Where Lawyers Come In
Timeshares prove nearly impossible to exit without help. That’s why so many owners eventually contact a timeshare lawyer. Attorneys dig into contracts searching for flaws. Things like unclear language and violations of consumer laws. If found, that can give ways to legally cancel your timeshare through what’s called “mortgage cancellation.”
The Exit Process
Each state treats timeshares differently in the law. However, some unfair and deceptive sales practices crop up nationwide. Lawyers investigate for those when filing cancellation suits. Common things found are:
- Misrepresenting key details – Like overstating usage times or including false information on closing costs.
- Pressuring signatures – Not giving enough (or any) time to review dense contracts. Refusing to let you leave with a copy.
- Lying about resale options – Making up claims that the timeshare will go up in value or the firm will resell it for you later.
If proof turns up showing a broker broke consumer protection statutes, you can argue to nullify the deal. When successful, the contract gets voided and you stop owing any fees.
What Makes a Good Attorney
The best bet is finding an attorney or law firm with longevity and credible former clients. Look for:
- A long track record – Have they been active for years with lots of former cases rather than seeming brand new?
- Offers free consultations – Most will provide initial case assessments at no cost before you commit.
- Flexible payment plans – They should allow you to pay over an extended period as the process unfolds rather than all at once.
Other Timeshare Exit Tactics
Along with cancellation suits, some other legal ways to get out of your timeshare could work depending on your contract. Common options include:
- Stop paying/default: If you simply let fees and loans go unpaid, the contract can enter default after enough delinquency. But this also tanks your credit score if recorded and gets you sued.
- Inheritance refusal: If parents or grandparents wrongly gifted you a timeshare, you can legally decline accepting it as part of estate matters after their death.
- Sell yourself for $1: Some contracts let you legally transfer a deed to someone else for a nominal fee. Finding a willing taker for $1 can prove extremely hard though.
- Donate it: A few timeshare charities accept donated contracts. But they only take ones with in-demand times/locations that they can flip to new buyers.
- Exchange programs: With sites like RCI, you might swap your annual week in your home resort to stay in another member’s elsewhere instead. This expands location variety but still leaves you paying recurring fees.
How to Minimize Timeshare Lawyer Fees
If hiring an attorney proves unavoidable to exit a troublesome timeshare, a few tips can help limit total legal spending:
- Thoroughly research experience – Veteran specialists know what to probe for first.
- Comparison shop for rates – Never take a firm’s word that theirs are the lowest without checking.
- Inquire about pro bono assistance – If facing financial hardship, some firms donate hours.
- Ask about sliding-scale rates – Payments based on the ability to pay helps offset lawyer costs.
- See if class actions apply – Sometimes your case fits an existing suit allowing shared resources.
- Investigate legal insurance coverage – A handful of insurers partially fund timeshare exits under coverage.
- Negotiate limited-scope arrangements – Constrain tasks to only what’s essential like demand letters.
- Explore arbitration first – Required in most contracts and avoids litigation route.
To wrap up – plan in the $3,000-$7,000 range for average market rates on timeshare cancellation lawyers. Vast differences in property specifics, company obstacles, and state laws trigger fees to climb at times up to $10,000 for worst-case scenarios. As always, obtain free initial assessments of your situation first before agreeing to anything.
Timeshares let you buy part-ownership in a vacation property and get yearly access. But for many timeshare owners, it becomes a burden over time. This guide looks at your options if you regret a purchase and need a timeshare termination.