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18-253MR ULTIQA Lifestyle timeshare lender fined for responsible lending failures
ASIC has accepted a court enforceable undertaking and fined timeshare lender Future Holiday Finance Pty Ltd (FHF) for responsible lending failures. FHF has paid a penalty of $135,000 in response to three infringement notices and will pay up to $3 million in compensation to consumers.
FHF provides finance for the purchase of memberships in ULTIQA Lifestyle, a points-based timeshare scheme.
ASIC found that FHF signed consumers up to loans when they attended ULTIQA Lifestyle timeshare sales seminars, without first assessing if customers could afford the loans or if the loans were right for them. As a result, ASIC has issued three infringement notices to FHF for alleged breaches of its responsible lending obligations.
As well as failures with the timing of FHF’s loan assessments, ASIC had concerns about their quality. The court enforceable undertaking addresses FHF’s poor loan assessment practices which did not meet the standards required by law.
In addition, ASIC examined FHF’s loan document and identified a potentially unfair contract term. ASIC was concerned that the ‘entire agreement clause’ prevented verbal statements made by FHF from forming part of the contract. This clause is no longer included in the loan contract and FHF has agreed not to enforce this clause in any existing contract.
FHF will offer to review the loans of all customers who entered into contracts between 1 July 2012 and 30 August 2018. Refunds will be provided to customers where contracts were not suitable. This compensation program will be overseen by an independent expert who will also assess FHF's compliance with its responsible lending obligations and whether the company’s credit contract contains any unfair terms.
ASIC Deputy Chair Peter Kell said, 'Timeshare finance operators must ensure that they comply with their responsible lending obligations.’
'Consumers should always take the time to consider upfront and ongoing costs of timeshare, including finance, given they are a long-term commitment and can be difficult to sell.’
ASIC encourages customers who took out a loan to purchase their ULTIQA Lifestyle timeshare membership to ask for their loan to be reassessed. Customers can contact FHF on (07) 5556 3000. ASIC’s MoneySmart also has information about FHF’s remediation program.
FHF holds Australian Credit Licence 383982.
ASIC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer credit protection laws. The payment of an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Cth).
ASIC is updating the regulatory framework for timesharing schemes. It is proposed that additional consumer protections apply, including to reflect the fact that it is common for a financier related to the timeshare operator to fund an acquisition of timeshare interests. ASIC’s website contains further detail of the proposed changes.
ASIC raised concerns with ULTIQA Lifestyle's disclosure and sales practices in 2016 (MR16-418)
ASIC’s MoneySmart explains what to look out for when buying and selling timeshares.