All timeshare owners will be familiar with that annual maintenance bill that usually drops onto the doormat during the expensive Christmas break. They will also probably recognise that sinking feeling that starts when they open the envelope to discover that the amount has risen out of all proportion over last year’s amount. Read on to see if you can stop paying timeshare maintenance fees.
The Timeshare Help Centre receives a significant amount of correspondence from stressed out timeshare owners asking what they can do about fees that seem to be spiralling out of control and rising at far more than the rate of inflation. When this is the case we can often help by seeking to nullify the contract or in some cases pushing for the return of overcharged fees from previous years. Whether we can achieve compensation or not – if your fees seem to be rising unreasonably then get in touch for some experienced legal advice.
What Not To Do
Whatever course of action you decide to pursue do not, under any circumstances, be tempted to take matters into your own hands. Timeshare companies are notorious for their legally tight paperwork and if you were to decide to stop paying your maintenance fees in protest it’s a pretty good bet that the contract will have a clause where you have agreed to keep paying even when the fees rise to unreasonable levels. By going against this agreement you could find yourself in an increasingly difficult legal situation.
However, despite contractual clauses, very often when a timeshare company keeps hiking the maintenance fees beyond reasonable levels they are not necessarily acting within the letter of the law. Frequently we see paperwork that is at best vaguely worded or in many cases in complete violation of what is just and legal. This is the reason why it is vital that you get your paperwork checked over by legal experts with extensive experience of international timeshare contract law. The Timeshare Help Centre will be able to look at your individual situation, identify the problems and work with you towards a successful resolution.
How Maintenance Fees Work
Obviously maintenance fees are an operational necessity for timeshare resorts. The yearly payments enable them to keep the developments in good shape making them attractive to potential owners and ensuring good exchange “trading power” for those owners who want to swap with other owners around the world. The fees also enable the management company to offer first class facilities and keep the décor and furnishings of the apartments up-to-date and contemporary.
The amount you pay is a calculation of what it will cost to maintain the resort divided amongst the amount of owners who have apartments there dependent on size and luxury level. A three bedroom penthouse with Jacuzzi and barbeque pit will understandably cost more to look after than a ground floor studio.
When you originally purchased your timeshare you will have signed an agreement saying you would pay the fees throughout the duration of your ownership. Almost certainly there will be a clause in the contract that the timeshare company reserves the right to increase the fees at any time.
What To Do Before Contacting Us
So what can you do before seeking legal advice? If you suspect that the rise in fees is not completely above board it is worth investigating further. This is something you can do yourself. Contact your timeshare company – by either post or email, don’t use the phone as you will have no evidence of their response – and ask for a comprehensive breakdown on how the costs were calculated and on what they were spent. You are entitled to this information and if it is possible ask for the previous year’s breakdown too so that you can compare costs and spending. Often we find vague costs such as “admin fees” included in the breakdown with no adequate explanation of their true nature. When you contact the Timeshare Help Centre for advice this information will be of help to the expert who is assigned to advise you.
What Happens If I Just Stop Paying?
We strongly advise that you seek specialist help rather than just stop paying your fees. If you do stop there are a number of things that will happen as the timeshare company sets its well-oiled recovery machine into motion. Firstly they will make contact with you by letter to request payment. This will probably come in the shape of a demand with a copy of a missed payment notice. Some timeshare companies will levy a late payment charge or will charge interest on the time during which the bill remains unpaid. Obviously this process results in a much higher fee when you come to pay it.
If you decide against paying then the next step in the process will be for the timeshare company to employ the services of a debt collection agency. You will now begin to feel the force of the company’s determination to be paid with a deluge of phone calls and demanding letters. At this stage you will probably be able to come to an agreement with the agency to pay your outstanding bill. They will need access to your private finances and will propose an agreement where you can make monthly payments in order to settle your debt.
Unfortunately the involvement of a collection agency in your life means that your credit report is negatively affected. Even if you settle the bill in full your credit score will go down and you will be left with a black mark on your records for seven years.
If after the letters and phone calls you still refuse to pay then a civil action will probably be brought against you. This situation means that the management company will take you to court in order to try and recover the outstanding money. If the judge finds against you, you could face a scenario where your finances are frozen and assets seized. It has even been known for the creditor to obtain an order that forces your employer to snatch a certain amount of your salary to be put towards covering the debt. Either way these actions will again affect your credit score and remain on your records for seven years.
However, despite this frightening state of affairs, there is light at the end of the tunnel. As we mentioned before, many companies that allow spiralling maintenance fees usually have legal weaknesses that a professional will be able to help you find. Get in touch with the Timeshare Help Centre today for free impartial advice on how to rid yourself of this financial burden.