An infrequent but brutal pain point for timeshare owners that we encounter is the dreaded special assessment fee. Special assessment fees come in many forms but are, at their essence, bills that timeshare resorts charge their owners beyond regularly-scheduled maintenance fees or ownership dues. Unlike maintenance fees, which are scheduled payments and therefore somewhat predictable, a special assessment fee could land on a timeshare owner’s doorstep at any time.
Here are a few types of special assessment fees I’ve seen timeshare owners deal with:
- The Upgrade: Typical, run-of-the-mill unit upgrades are the most common reason you’ll see an extra line-item on your timeshare bill. When resorts upgrade their services or amenities, timeshare owners are left to foot that bill.
- The Natural Disaster: Natural disasters are the second major reason for exorbitant unit fees. Many resorts are in parts of the country that get hit particularly hard by destructive weather – Florida and Hawaii are likely suspects. For example, in 2017, Sea Pines Resort required timeshare owners to pay $1,018 as a special assessment in addition to their $1,028 annual maintenance fee as a result of damages from Hurricane Matthew.
- The New Owners:Some resort conglomerates make it their business to snatch up smaller resorts that are struggling to make ends meet and flip them into profitable businesses under their ownership. Whenever this happens, timeshare holders at the newly-adopted resort can expect to see some new fees fall in their laps. Most resorts will claim that current-standing units don’t live up to the high standards expected with their brand and will fund renovations in part by existing owners.
- The Tragedy of the Commons:When other owners refuse, or otherwise can’t pay their fees, the resort will make up the difference elsewhere. This is often referred to in the industry as a “revenue gap” created by “owner-delinquency or non-payment”. When this happens, the HOA or resort board will levy special assessment fees on the other owners to compensate for the monetary loss.
Between resort wishes and mother nature’s plans, timeshare owners should be aware that assessment fees may happen, regardless of what special event you’ve been saving up for.
Fear Not, Here’s What You Can Do:
Depending on your circumstance, you may have a few different options when it comes to your timeshare’s special assessment fees:
- Some owners can put up with special assessment fees if the unit is everything they dreamed it would be – in this case, keep paying them. Regardless of your attitude towards special assessment fees, do not evade them – resorts may increase the prices in the future to make up for it.
- If you hear of other owners in your resort who are getting bombarded with random assessment fees and are unhappy about it, it may be worth pursuing a group legal review to see if there is a viable claim. While this tactic can send a strong message to the resorts, lawsuits can be extremely costly in legal fees with no guarantee of a positive outcome, so this option does not work for all parties.
If you have been hit with these exorbitant fees and want to get rid of your timeshare, reach out to us at Timeshare Exit Team. We are committed to helping owners like you fight back against resorts and protect your financial well-being.
Special assessment fees on your timeshare are unfortunate. Take the time to stay informed so you can better predict when these fees may come through.
–Brandon Reed, CEO at Timeshare Exit Team