One of the common questions that comes up about timeshares is “What will happen if I stop paying my maintenance fee?” This question is usually asked by timeshare owners who are having difficulty keeping up with their annual maintenance fees, due to increases or a change in personal financial circumstances. Or sometimes a special assessment for maintenance becomes too burdensome.
Many of these folks are under the mistaken impression that there would be no consequences to allowing the payments to lapse. But that could not be further from the truth. Timeshare companies will foreclose on your timeshare if you fail to pay your bill and this will wind up on your credit report, just like if you decided to stop paying your mortgage or a credit card bill. You may also wind up being pursued by a collections company for back payments and could possibly face additional penalties and fees as a consequence of non-payment.
Some owners actually think that just because they’ve lost interest in their timeshare and don’t intend to use it anymore, that the timeshare company will just take it back if the maintenance fee doesn’t get paid. But this isn’t how it works. If that were the case you’d find some properties with an abundance of vacant properties on their hands during the least desirable vacation times. So for the most part, no timeshare company is going to let you out of your contract. The maintenance fee continues to be an obligation even if you have no intention of ever using your timeshare again.
So the best bet if you need to stop paying is to find a way to sell your timeshare. Sometimes it even makes sense to simply give it away. Unfortunately, for some sellers, you might be holding onto a timeshare that isn’t particularly popular, or maybe your week isn’t in high demand. In this situation, it might even make sense for you to offer a financial enticement. For example, you might offer to pay this year’s maintenance fees, but allow the new owner to use the week.
Conducting your sale in this way wouldn’t save you this year’s expenses, but it would ultimately allow you to relinquish the responsibility to someone else. This is far preferable to having your timeshare foreclosed upon.
Just be cautious that when you sell your timeshare you are not being ripped off. You should not pay a salesperson an upfront fee to sell your timeshare for you. A professional real estate person collects commission only after the sale is finalized, not before.