New Dubai timeshare law to protect residents from scams: Experts

(File)

A timeshare is a property with a divided form of ownership that is usually used for holidays and vacations.

Experts in the travel and tourism sector have said the new regulations for the timeshare business model could eventually protect residents from ‘timeshare resale scams’. Residents and travel agencies are confident that the introduction of the law will stop such schemes.

On Monday, a new law was issued mandating the Dubai Tourism to develop the framework for the selling, marketing and management of properties sold under ‘timeshare’ programmes.

A timeshare is a property with a divided form of ownership that is usually used for holidays and vacations. These properties are typically resort condominium units, in which multiple parties hold rights to use the property, and each owner of the same accommodation is allotted a certain period of time. A timeshare is usually advertised as being less expensive than a lifetime of vacations.

Dubai Tourism will develop the terms and conditions and technical standards required for timeshare facilities to obtain legal permits and approvals. It will also list and classify the residential units subject to the new law.

Residents and experts are hopeful that this regulatory environment will put an end to fraud in the timeshare industry.

Timeshare scammers usually target families, offering them unbelievable deals — including several nights stay at hotels, club membership, and discounts in international and UAE-based holiday properties.

Reshmin Mohammed Hamid, a victim of such a scam, said: “I got a call from a holiday agent saying that I had won a gold coin and I need to head over a hotel in Dubai to collect it. When I went there, my husband and I were given an elaborate sales pitch where my family could enjoy several holidays weeks a year.”

She added: “A week later, my husband lost his job and our contract stipulated that the company would return our money, if we suffered job losses. We paid Dh10,000 towards the timeshare in October 2019, we are yet to receive our money.”

Khaleej Times has reported the plight of several such victims in the past, where residents were duped into paying a whopping Dh40,000 for holiday schemes.

“It was a trap my family and I walked into. I paid Dh10,062 for a package that did not exist,” said Mayur Gulati, a victim. He added: “As it is a big amount, it has caused a lot of stress in chasing these companies for repayment. After a while, the salesmen and the managers go absconding.” Both Reshmin and Mayur have said laws that regularise the sector will protect gullible residents. “Since there is going to be a database for all facilities operating as timeshare properties in Dubai, this should be made public information so people are aware of where they are investing,” said Gulati.

How will it benefit travel industry?

TP Sudheesh, general manager of Deira Travels and Tourist agency, said: “The new law is a good thing for the travel industry. The fact that there is going to be stricter regulations will work as a stimulator for the real estate and tourism sector and will provide investors with an alternative avenue for investment.”

Sudheesh said this law would curb such scams as the sector will be monitored and fraudulent companies weeded out.

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