In the last few years, the world has become much less stable. The COVID-19 pandemic, political unrest, the invasion in Ukraine, and transportation infrastructure woes have all combined to create a 40-year high inflation rate as of June 2022.
As politicians, businesses, and consumers alike all try to lessen the damage from higher prices on everything from groceries to gas, those with a timeshare vacation home have a whole other problem to worry about: maintenance fees. Just as in other areas of modern life, timeshare maintenance fee inflation is a real thing, as is the shock many owners feel when they get their bills.
For their part, vacation ownership companies and their lobbying group, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), generally say that their fees will have to go up because the prices of everything else have gone up. With gas, material, and service prices skyrocketing, they say, how can they not raise the cost of timeshare ownership?
Of course, this line of reasoning falsely assumes that timeshare maintenance fees haven’t already been too high for years, which any owner can tell you they have. This article will look at the recent rise in inflation, what owners can expect with regard to timeshare maintenance fee inflation, and the best ways to rid yourself of timeshare maintenance fees for good.
The word “inflation” can be found in virtually every news broadcast and newspaper published recently. Everyone blames it for higher prices, but you may be surprised to know that experts still debate the actual causes of inflation and the best ways to fix it (or not) from the perspective of the government.
Some writers, for example, blame rising wages and income for inflation, while others put more emphasis on scarcity of resources. An example of the latter might be the effect that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022 has had on oil imports and gas prices.
Scholars still debate how prices are affected by these world events, but the measurable result of those events is almost always the same for consumers: higher prices. As inflation goes up, the prices of the basic necessities of life go up as well.
When prices for necessities like gas, food, and utilities go up, it starts a chain reaction in other industries. Suddenly, it costs more to transport all kinds of goods across the country and the world, so prices go up for even nonessential items. The prices of electronics, jewelry, and even streaming subscriptions all begin climbing ever higher, with no end in sight.
Given the seemingly endless reach of inflation, it’s only natural that timeshare resorts will also feel the effects of inflation. Whether there’s inflation or not, owners of vacation properties have to pay for landscaping, cleaning services, upkeep, and repairs. They also have to pay for the people who do those jobs, and especially with surging gas prices, that costs more money too.
If you’re a timeshare owner, you know there’s one thing that matters to timeshare resorts above all else: their bottom line. If the profit they make at the end of the day is even a bit less than the day before, they will seek to make up the difference by passing the timeshare costs along to unit owners.
Timeshare companies accomplish this goal in several creative ways, including these two frequently employed tactics:
Timeshare management companies love to levy special assessments when they want to make some more money. A special assessment fee is supposed to be a one-time cost in response to a particular event (such as a natural disaster — like Hurricane Ian that ravaged Florida, the state with more timeshares than any other state). This fee is commonly used by homeowners associations (HOAs) and condo owners associations, as well as timeshare companies.
For example, if a hurricane damages a timeshare resort, the management company may levy a special assessment on owners for the repair costs. Or if a resort wants to install a new swimming pool, there may be a charge to the owners for the costs involved in constructing that pool.
In the context of timeshare maintenance fee inflation, a resort may make an “emergency” request, saying that they don’t have enough funds in reserve due to rising gas prices or other costs. Thus, the thinking would go, they need an extra cash infusion from owners.
Of course, in cases like this, you should always verify that the company’s budget issues are actually as they say by getting a copy of the most recent reserve study, which should tell you whether there are actually money problems and how severe they are. If the numbers support the request, though, there is nothing you can do to avoid paying more.
More commonly, timeshare companies will try to pass on inflated maintenance costs to timeshare owners by increasing the annual maintenance fees. Keep in mind that the contract you signed will have a number of provisions about those fees, including a fee cap.
This means that, in most cases, a timeshare company can’t raise your fees by more than a certain percentage per year — typically 10-15%. (This may be one of the reasons, incidentally, that some companies try to levy special assessments.)
You shouldn’t be too comfortable looking at those fee caps, though. While companies may be limited in the amount they can raise your annual fees per year, there is nothing stopping them from using inflation to justify multiple large fee increases several years in a row. In this way, timeshare owners may feel the effects of inflation long after inflation has subsided in the broader economy.
Finally, you should remember that no matter when the inflation abates, your timeshare company will never lower your annual maintenance fees. That timeshare maintenance fee inflation will last longer than other kinds — and it will be permanent.
If you are already a timeshare owner, it’s likely that nothing said above surprises you, even if you didn’t know all of the details. The question becomes what to do about it.
Making a timeshare exit can help you get back in control of your finances and your life. Your choice of a timeshare exit company, though, is important. A company that advises you to simply stop paying fees or let the unit go to foreclosure could lead you to make a very costly mistake with serious legal consequences, to say nothing of the damage done to your credit score.
Centerstone Group is the premier timeshare exit company, specializing in legal and ethical timeshare exits using a variety of proprietary methods. Whether you need a timeshare transfer, a pressure campaign against a timeshare developer, or legal assistance from one of our attorney partners, we can help you get financial relief.
We are an accredited, A-rated company with the Better Business Bureau, and our results and reviews speak for themselves. If you’re looking for options regarding a difficult timeshare situation, we would love the chance to see how we can help you.
Inflation is an economic force in the world that we all have to deal with. You don’t, however, have to deal with opportunistic timeshare companies that use inflation as an excuse for jacking up their prices forever. Once the timeshare companies have you, they won’t let you go easily, and they will try to wring every penny they can get from you.
The professionals at Centerstone Group collectively have decades of experience in the timeshare industry, and we can help you save both your money and your peace of mind. Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation.