Timeshare properties have several different owners. You and the other owners get full use of the property for a certain amount of time each year. If you aren't able to use your timeshare during your designated time period, you have the option of renting it out. Like a home purchase where there is a homeowners association, you must pay annual maintenance fees.
Maintenance fees are part of owning a timeshare. Most timeshares require that you pay these fees annually. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average annual fee for a one-week timeshare is $660. Timeshares are managed by timeshare associations that use your annual fees for a variety of purposes, including pest control, landscaping and home repairs. Your maintenance fees may also be directed to the upkeep of amenities the property has, such as a swimming pool or tennis court. You owe maintenance fees regardless of whether you use your timeshare property or not.
Fines and Restrictions
You owe maintenance fees for as long as you own the property. If you do not immediately pay off the outstanding balance, the timeshare association has the right to add late charges to your balance each month. It may also charge you a fine and interest. Until your bring your timeshare account current, you generally won't have access to the property when your time slot rolls around. The same is true if you've rented out your time slot. The timeshare association might not allow your renters to check in until you pay any outstanding fees you owe in full
Leave your maintenance fees unpaid for long enough and your timeshare association may send your debt to collection agency. Collection agencies report debts to the credit bureaus, and collection accounts can stay on your credit report for seven years regardless of whether you pay your timeshare maintenance fees. The degree of credit damage you'll sustain varies but, in general, the better your credit rating is, the more points you'll lose when your unpaid maintenance fees go into collections.
The timeshare association can eventually foreclose on your timeshare if you don't catch up your outstanding maintenance fees and any additional penalties you've incurred. Timeshare agreements vary, but failure to pay fees and assessments generally creates an automatic lien against the property. Once a lien is in place, the timeshare association can call the lien due. If you do not immediately pay off your delinquent debt and satisfy the lien, the timeshare association has the right to sell your time slot -- even if you've already paid off your timeshare in its entirety.
- U.S. News & World Report: Should You Invest in a Timeshare?
- Nolo: Can a Timeshare Be Foreclosed For Nonpayment of Fees or Assessments?
- The Timeshare Users Group: What If I Stop Paying for My Timeshare?
- The Fair Credit Reporting Act: Section 605: Requirements relating to information contained in consumer reports/p.22
- MSN Money: 5 Ways to Kill Your Credit Score
- Federal Trade Commission: Timeshares and Vacation Plans
- Nolo: Options to Avoid Timeshare Foreclosure
- Nolo: Consequences of a Timeshare Foreclosure