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Timeshare hearings: Next stop - Cape Town

Jul 07 2017 17:40

Cape Town - Disgruntled consumers battling with timeshare holiday schemes are urged to come forward and make their voices heard.

The National Consumer Commission (NCC) is holding public hearings after mounting complaints relating to the points system and contracts which are not governed by the Consumer Protection Act.

The NCC kicked off the countrywide hearings in Pretoria this week and its next stop is the Western Cape.

The NCC will conduct public hearings at the Cape Town Lodge situated at 101 Buitengracht Street, from 11 – 13 July between 10:00 and 17:00 daily.

NCC Commissioner Ebrahim Mohamed appealed to consumers to actively participate in the public inquiry processes if they wish to see change.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” he quoted the famous words from the late Mahatma Gandhi.

He said some of the key challenges that came out of the Pretoria public hearings included among others, refusal by holiday clubs to cancel timeshare contracts and over-selling of limited accommodation, which leads to unavailability of accommodation when consumers attempt to make bookings.

Consumers also complained about holiday clubs charging exorbitant levies for the upkeep and maintenance of facilities, despite a 2014 SARS directive which states that levies cannot be charged to persons who do not have a title deed and who do not own a property.

Mohamed bemoaned the current state of affairs saying that the vacation ownership “timeshare” industry is currently not effectively regulated because different aspects of it are regulated by several different laws and organisations of the state.

“There are currently several pieces of legislation that regulate the vacation ownership industry, which include among others the Consumer Protection Act and the National Credit Act, which are probably the most recent laws among the lot, as they were promulgated respectively in 2005 and 2008."

He said some of the fundamental regulating legislation such as the Property Timesharing Control Act (Act 75 of 1983), the Share Block Schemes Control Act (Act 59 of 1980), and the Sectional titles Act (Act 95 of 1986) are "clearly very old legislation, and probably outdated", given the many changes that have taken place in the industry and society over the many years since their promulgation.

“As a scholar of the law it is my belief that the law is not static, that it is ever changing, and that in a democracy in particular, it should respond to change in society to remain relevant and effective,” Mohamed suggested.

He said that chief among the things the NCC hopes to see coming out of the public inquiry is the creation of a single piece of legislation that will be used to effectively and comprehensively regulate the timeshare industry, and which will create a means for consumers to participate and have a voice in the affairs of holiday club schemes.

Mohamed said the inquiry panel would prefer consumers make oral submissions, but will in exceptional circumstances make arrangements to receive written submissions.

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