From the January RedWeek Newsletter, the "Ask The Timeshare Crusader" question comes from Darren: I am getting hit with resort bills that include a significant special assessment fee. With my annual maintenance fee due as well, there is no way I can pay both. Do you have any advice?
Lisa Ann Schreier’s Answer:
It's that time of year again… annual maintenance fees and special assessments are being mailed out and many timeshare owners are getting a very nasty surprise in the form of huge increases and huge unexpected assessments.
If you own at a Diamond, Wyndham or older resort, you know what I mean. I've been hearing from owners who plead for help with a $3,000 assessment that was levied, or increases in annual fees well over 30 percent year over year.
If you are faced with a huge bill, here are some things you need to do, and the sooner the better:
1. Connect with other owners through the RedWeek Forums to share information and learn what other owners are doing
2. Contact the resort directly and request a copy of the full annual budget if you haven't received it already, then familiarize yourself with it
3. If you are unable to pay the entire amount due, contact the resort as soon as possible to work out a payment plan
Another way of tackling these fees is to rent out your timeshare and use the proceeds to pay, or at least partially pay, for the fees. RedWeek.com is a great place to rent out your timeshare. With more than 1.7 million registered users, you're more than likely to find someone who wants exactly what your home resort offers.
It also bears repeating that you should only be renting your home property, not exchanging it and then attempting to rent that. Both RCI and II have policies against renting out weeks obtained via exchange, and there are many cases where the renter was turned away at check-in and the owners' exchange rights were suspended.
As I've said before, there are a few key questions that all potential owners need to ask before buying any timeshare. This is not a comprehensive list, but a good place to start:
1. What are all the annual fees and what do they cover?
2. What is the "cap" on how much the fees can be increased year over year?
3. What is the five (5) year history on these fees?
4. When was the last time a special assessment was levied?
5. How much was that special assessment?
6. How much of the resort is sold out?
7. Is there a stipulation that in the event of a fund shortage, the developer is required to make up the difference?
8. What is the current delinquency rate at this resort?
Maintenance fees and sometimes special assessments are part of timeshare ownership and are part of the "vacation experience". Whether you own timeshare or rent a hotel room, you're paying one way or another.
Share Your Thoughts:
Care to comment on Lisa Ann's answer? Join the conversation on our Ask the Timeshare Crusader forum. Have questions for the Timeshare Crusader? Please post them on her forums page, or e-mail them to us at support@redweek(dot)com.