The Perpetual Contract Problem: How Timeshares Keep Owners Trapped

The Perpetual Contract Problem: How Timeshares Keep Owners Trapped

Timeshare contracts often come with a unique feature known as perpetuity, which means they last indefinitely and can be inherited by future generations. While this might sound like a benefit to some, it can also be a significant issue for many timeshare owners. In this article, we will explore the perpetual contract problem, why it can be problematic, and the challenges it poses for owners who want to exit their timeshares.

1. Unending Financial Obligations

Perpetual contracts mean that owners are locked into their financial obligations indefinitely. Annual maintenance fees, special assessments, and other costs continue, year after year, even after the initial purchase cost is paid off. This unending financial burden can be overwhelming and can continue long after the owner’s need or desire for the timeshare has diminished.

2. Passing Down the Financial Burden

One of the touted benefits of perpetuity in timeshare contracts is the ability to pass the timeshare down to heirs. However, this can also mean passing down a financial burden. Heirs may inherit not only the property but also the associated costs and responsibilities, which can strain family relationships.

3. Difficulty in Exiting Perpetual Contracts

Exiting a timeshare with a perpetual contract can be exceptionally challenging. Traditional exit methods, such as selling or transferring the timeshare, may not apply. Many owners feel trapped because they cannot find a way out.

4. Ongoing Maintenance Fee Increases

As time goes on, maintenance fees can increase significantly, creating an escalating financial burden for owners. These fees are not subject to any limits or caps, and the lack of regulation in the industry means that owners have little control over these costs.

5. Changing Vacation Needs

Owners’ vacation needs and preferences can change over time. What was once an ideal vacation spot may lose its appeal, making the perpetual contract a liability rather than an asset. The inability to exit the contract means owners are stuck with a product they no longer want or need.

6. Limited Control Over the Property

Perpetual contracts often come with restrictions on the owner’s ability to modify, sell, or transfer the property. These limitations can make it challenging for owners to make changes to their timeshare ownership when circumstances change.

7. The Burden of Inheritance

While some owners may intend to pass down their timeshare as a family legacy, heirs may not share the same sentiment. The inherited timeshare can become a source of conflict and financial strain, potentially damaging family relationships.

8. Legal and Ethical Issues

Owners who attempt to exit their perpetual contracts may encounter legal and ethical challenges. Some timeshare companies employ tactics to discourage or prevent owners from exiting, including legal threats and intimidation.

9. Regulatory Oversight and Reform

The timeshare industry lacks adequate regulation to protect owners from the perpetual contract problem. Owners are left with limited legal recourse, and the absence of industry-wide standards exacerbates the issue.

10. Potential Solutions for Perpetual Contracts

For owners grappling with the perpetual contract problem, there are a few potential solutions to consider:

a. Consult with an Attorney: A timeshare attorney can help assess the contract’s terms and explore legal options for exiting.

b. Explore Ownership Alternatives: Some owners may consider transferring the timeshare to a trust or a legal entity that can assume responsibility for the property.

c. Negotiate with the Timeshare Company: In some cases, negotiation with the timeshare company may lead to a voluntary exit arrangement.

d. Assess the Cost of Perpetuity: Consider the long-term financial implications of perpetuity before purchasing a timeshare. If the perpetual contract is a deal-breaker, explore alternative vacation ownership models.


The perpetual contract problem in the timeshare industry poses significant challenges for owners who find themselves trapped in unending financial obligations. It’s essential for potential buyers to fully understand the implications of perpetuity and explore potential solutions to address these challenges. Consultation with a timeshare attorney and careful consideration of the long-term financial commitment are crucial steps in navigating the complexities of timeshare ownership with perpetual contracts.

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