Timeshare maintenance fees can be confusing, so we wanted to provide you with the answers to the most frequently asked questions we hear.
The timeshare industry would like you to think timeshare maintenance fees are a minor issue in the timeshare big picture. They want you to focus on all the benefits of timeshare ownership. But for many owners, fees are the whole story. Based on our experience, we’ve learned that approximately half of all people seeking to sell their timeshare do so because of maintenance fees.
Like so many aspects of timeshares, the realities of timeshare maintenance fees will vary widely across the industry. Here are some general answers to your timeshare questions.
What Are Timeshare Maintenance Fees?
According to the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), timeshare maintenance fees are fees “[T]hat timeshare owners are required to pay, usually on an annual basis, to cover the costs of running the resort, including daily management, upkeep, and improvements.” (Source: ARDA)
These fees might cover a wide variety of items. Typical inclusions are housekeeping, landscaping, general maintenance and upkeep to your unit, and repairs and upgrades to the resort itself. The exact uses of fees will vary by location.
Fees are typically calculated on an annual basis. However, they may be due monthly, quarterly, or annually, depending on the agreement. When considering a timeshare, make sure your payment schedule suits your financial circumstances.
Will Fees Go Up Over Time?
Yes. They will almost absolutely go up every year.
Timeshare maintenance fees have been steadily increasing since the advent of timeshares. Although the exact amount of increase varies unpredictably from year to year and resort to resort, the increases themselves are a fact of timeshare life.
Maintenance fees increased from an average annual fee of $820 to $980 between 2012 and 2017. That’s a 16% increase within a five year period. Averages will surely top $1000 per year soon with no end in sight. (Source: ARDA)
When you purchase a timeshare contract today, it’s vital to take rising fees into account. Since you can’t predict with any certainty how fast fees for your timeshare will increase, what can you do? At a minimum, you can request to see a history of fees from the resort. That will give you a sense of how those fees have behaved in the recent past. If you don’t foresee your own income rising to keep pace, you should probably reevaluate if ownership is right for you.
Who Pays Maintenance Fees?
All owners are responsible for timeshare maintenance fees. However, other guests of the resort do not pay these fees. This means that in some cases, it’s cheaper to rent rather than to own. This is why we always recommend that consumers investigate timeshare rental before making the decision to buy.
What Happens If I Can’t Pay My Fees?
Just like any other financial obligation, there are consequences when you fail to pay. Timeshare maintenance fees are no different. Not paying fees is considered a breach of contract and you can expect your resort or developer to respond.
First, if you aren’t current on your fees, you won’t be able to use your timeshare weeks or timeshare points. You also won’t be able to rent out your timeshare or exchange your points. There will also likely be late fees and interest fees associated with not paying.
If fees continue to go unpaid, your resort will seek to recover these fees from you. Initially they will send letters and call but eventually, they may report you to a third-party collection agency, and then they will report you to the three major credit agencies. Obviously, this can have a lasting impact on your credit score.
Finally, the resort may initiate additional and more extreme actions. These actions will vary by the state where you own but could include foreclosure. Proceedings take a long time and are quite expensive. And you may be on the hook for paying those expenses.
You may also want to consider that if you fail to pay your fees, the other owners may have to make up the difference. Less lavish, older resorts often have smaller reserves and owners at these resorts are much more likely to find themselves covering expenses for those who cannot or do not pay.
I Can’t Pay My Fees. What Now?
If you can’t pay your fees and are looking for a way out, contact us today for a free consultation. We help owners like you exit timeshares safely, legally, and ethically.