LARGO, Fla.–An administrative petition has been filed against Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation alleging that the agency’s approval of a request by timeshare developers to make statutorily mandated public offering statements available by providing an online address at the closing rather the furnishing hard copies violates Florida law.
The suit, Rudisill, et al. v. Department of Business and Professional Regulation, case no. 17-4868RU, was filed Aug. 28 in the Division of Administrative Hearings, State of Florida. The petition seeks an order declaring the agency’s approval of alternative media delivery of the required documents an invalid exercise of legislative power. The suit asks for suspension of the approval as well as an award of costs and attorneys’ fees.
The plaintiffs allege that Florida law requires timeshare developers to deliver a public offering statement to buyers. The DBPR enacted a rule that allowed timeshare developers to deliver the statement through alternative media such as CD-ROM or online. The petition alleges that the administrative rule is inadequate because:
- Permitting developers to inform buyers where they can find the information on a website does not satisfy the statutory language of requiring the developer to “deliver” or “furnish” the text to purchasers.
- Unlike a physical copy, text on a website can later be modified by the developer or a third party.
- Providing the information online requires buyers to have an internet connection, an additional requirement not imposed by the statute.
Michael D. Finn, managing member of Finn Law Group, stated, “The legislature requires timeshare developers to provide a packet of essential consumer information to purchasers at the closing. Because DBPR now allows developers to provide a website address instead of paper and ink that purchases can read immediately, the information’s urgency and impact are diminished. Consumers only have 10 days to rescind a timeshare contract and push the disclosures online, to be read at later, artificially reduces the rescission time.”
The Finn Law Group, which has offices in Florida, represents consumers in timeshare and related real estate matters.