ARDA Sees Strong Advocacy Success in 2023, Plans Ahead for 2024
Proactive legislative advocacy is part of the foundation of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA). In fact, ARDA is known as the “Voice of the Vacation Ownership Industry” because our team of dedicated government relations professionals has spent decades tirelessly promoting and defending it at the local, state, federal, and even international levels.
That hard work continued throughout 2023 and resulted in a record year, with ARDA advocating for seven proactive pieces of legislation. Six of those bills – three in Hawaii and one each in Florida, Georgia, and Virginia – have been passed, with one in Massachusetts still in progress. Each of these bills plays an important role in ensuring state regulations modernize along with the timeshare industry and help it continue to thrive to the benefit of owners and guests.
Passing that many bills in any given year is a testament to the strength of both our team and ARDA’s relationships. Across the country, tens of thousands of bills are likely filed each year, but a much smaller number are actually passed. For example, in Florida, 1,828 bills were filed during the 2023 legislative session, which lasted 60 days between March and May, yet only 356 were ultimately passed.
To prepare for the year ahead, the 2024 Legislative Policy Council (LPC) advocacy plan was finalized at the ARDA Fall Leadership & Policy Forum in November. This plan outlines ARDA’s advocacy goals on behalf of the industry and owners and was thoughtfully crafted with input from members, timeshare owners and our coalition partners. In 2024, ARDA will pursue four proactive pieces of legislation across key states including Florida, Colorado, Massachusetts and Virginia.
In Florida, ARDA-supported legislation will focus on modernizations and updates that we were unable to include in last year’s agency bill. It will add flexibility for association boards regarding managing or removing facilities and clarify that associations and managers should follow estoppel requirements in the Timeshare Act rather than the Condo Act. In addition, the rights granted to hotels to deal with disruptive guests would be extended explicitly to timeshares.
In Colorado, ARDA is advocating for legislation that provides a timeshare-specific exemption to a problematic collections bill that passed in 2022 that has increased the costs for timeshare homeowners’ associations (HOAs). The law that was previously passed now requires certified letters prior to collection actions for very small amounts and also requires notices to be delivered to the owner’s “unit.” While ARDA pushed to correct these issues in 2023 as part of a broader fix to the original bill, the underlying bill was unsuccessful.
In Massachusetts, ARDA is continuing its efforts to address the termination or extension of expiring timeshare plans in the Commonwealth. ARDA-supported legislation will put into place more achievable voting requirements than the 100% often required in the official documents for owners who would like to terminate or extend and provide a process for managing the option the owners choose to pursue.
In Virginia, ARDA is working to improve the existing timeshare plan termination law and adding the ability to terminate a plan partially. A partial termination process provides timeshare resorts with tools to repurpose only specific non-performing units to maintain a more viable project without the burden and expense of maintaining unneeded property.
In addition to advocating for proactive legislation, ARDA closely monitors legislation being filed in states across the nation to identify those that could negatively impact the timeshare industry. We anticipate that each year, there will be bills that ARDA will ultimately have to oppose or seek industry exemptions to, and our team plans for these and strategizes accordingly. Because, every day, ARDA is working to protect the interests of the timeshare industry and its owners in every state.
In time for the 2024 session, ARDA and the ARDA Resort Owners’ Coalition (ARDA-ROC) will offer new ways for members and owners to track the legislation we are pursuing and monitoring. We will have new tracking maps on our websites organized by issue area. Additionally, there will be ways for members and owners to help support ARDA’s efforts through our new advocacy platform and by signing up to become an advocate on the ARDA-ROC website.
Each year, ARDA’s government relations team ensures that we are at the forefront of what’s to come, and 2024 will be no different. Whether it is proactively advocating for laws to foster and support the timeshare industry and owners or heading off and responding to issues that affect the industry, ARDA remains committed to serving as the leading voice of vacation ownership.