We recently received an enquiry from a gentleman who wished to explain the terrible position of his very distressed 78 year old mother in-law. In 1995 she and her husband purchased a timeshare at the Four Seasons Marbella in Malaga, Spain. Sadly her husband passed away in 2015, leaving her charged with the encumbrance of the timeshare. Due to financial difficulties she found herself unable to pay the maintenance fees in 2016 and 2017 and given her advanced age, she decided it would be better to cancel the ownership.
Upon contacting the resort she was told that before they would even contemplate terminating the ownership, she would need to clear the maintenance arrears. Reluctantly she agreed and paid the debt, however despite honouring her part of the bargain, the management company still refused to allow her to terminate.
The resort has since been bought byONA group; which is a very large hospitality firm based in Barcelona and has subsequently changed the resorts name to Ona Alanda Club Marbella. Under its new management, it was hoped that such a well-established organisation such as ONA Group would be more sympathetic towards an elderly widow who could barely keep a roof over her head, so again various attempts were made to cancel the ownership; specifically citing aging years, ailing health and poor finances, but all her advances were ignored.
Having received no response to her numerous requests, she once again found herself in a position where she was unable to pay the annual maintenance fees. After 2 years of silence from ONA Group; she naturally assumed that her requests to cancel had been honoured and that she was no longer the legal owner, thus lifting a huge weight off her shoulders. How wrong could she have been! Slap bang in the middle of the Covid19 lockdown in both Spain and the UK, much to her dismay she received a demand from a Spanish law firm named “Else Abogados” (Else credit) stating that she owed €2,742.52. The letter offered no explanation as to why this money had to be paid and only when her family contacted the lawyers, was it explained that it was in relation to unpaid maintenance fees owing to ONA Group.
See below a copy of the said letter:
Despite failing to communicate with this very unhappy owner during an interim period of over 2 years and not once addressed her requests to cancel, in what can only be described as “cowardly” ONA Group felt it easier to refer the debt to their lawyers for them to pursue itspayment.
As you can imagine the receipt of this letter has caused a great deal of distress and anxiety for this 78 year old lady and with idea of how to progress, fortunately her son in-law has done the right thing in seeking help and guidance from the TCA.
Speaking on behalf of his mother in-law, he explained that as a family, they simply do not have that kind of money available and even if they were able to raise the funds, they fear that once paid, ONA Group will continue to ignore her requests to cancel and she would be back at square one.
At the TCA we are aware that many timeshare resorts and management companies have an unwritten rule that allows clients of 75 years plus, to surrender theirownerships without hindrance or cost. Clearly ONA Group are not aware of this consideration and if they are, they are certainly seem to be turning a very uncompassionate blind eye.
The TCA are currently in the process of exploring various avenues that may be available to assist with resolving this poor ladies plight and we will certainly keep you updated as and when we have news of any further developments.
Posted on: June 15, 2020
For more information regarding this article or assistance in any other timeshare related issues please contact the TCA on 0203 519 3808 or email: info@TimeshareConsumerAssociation.org.uk