Gov’t looks at timeshare rules

The Cayman Islands Government has asked the Attorney General to look into the possibilities of regulating the timeshare industry in the aftermath of the failure of Indies Suites, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbett said.

‘We certainly would like some way to protect timeshare owners in cases like [Indies Suites],’ Mr. Tibbetts said.

Indies Suites failed after Hurricane Ivan because the operators were about 50 per cent underinsured and could not afford to rebuild the facility. The former timeshare owners of that property publicly called for some regulation in Cayman’s timeshare industry after they had to negotiate a compensation settlement for about 20 cents on their dollar invested.

Tom McCallum, director of The Reef Resort timeshare property in East End, said its owners would like to see regulation.

‘Here at The Reef, the Thompson Group would be in favour of consultation between the private sector and the government that would lead to effective and efficient regulation of the timeshare industry,’ he said. ‘Fair legislation and regulation always favour those who do business in a fair and ethical manner, hence the Thompson Group are very much in favour.’

The Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association would like to see regulation as well.

‘CIREBA agrees that the legal community should devise a means whereby the owner’s right to use [as with a timeshare] can be registered and protected,’ the association said.

President James Bovell said timeshares are not the general market of the CIREBA members, but confirmed that members are allowed to handle re-sales. There are only six timeshare properties listed on CIREBA’s website.

Although Mr. Tibbetts did not get into any specific elements of regulation, the Indies Suites group had suggested at minimum timeshare operators should be required to have adequate insurance coverage to rebuild their property if destroyed.

The former Indies Suites club members would also like to see timeshare owners have a registered interest in the property. Because they were not registered, the former Indies Suites owner was able to sell the property to a third party without consulting with, or even telling the club members of the sale until months after the fact.

‘There’s no protection for timeshare owners here,’ said Mr. McCallum. ‘The laws do not allow for the subdivision of property to that extent.’

Mr. McCallum thinks it would be good for business to give timeshare owners a registered interest here.

‘We’d love to be able to say, ‘your timeshare is registered in the Cayman Islands’,’ he said.

Mr. McCallum said there had been discussions with the government years ago about this issue. However, he said the sheer volume of past timeshare sales ‘would instantly double the number of land owners in the Cayman Islands’ if they were all registered.

Rod Broome, a former Indies Suites timeshare owner who represented about 230 other owners during the civil action against the former owners, was happy to see the Government respond to the issue.

‘We are glad to see that the Cayman Government is finally going to act on matters related to the timeshare industry and take some action to protect the rights of timeshare owners in Cayman,’ he said, adding that it is hoped any new regulations are enacted promptly.

‘While for the ex-Indies Suites club members it is too late, for the Cayman timeshare industry this would be a big boost as we believe this would be the first of its kind of action in the worldwide industry to level the playfield between timeshare resort owner/operators and resort club members.’