When you are sitting in a timeshare presentation, one of the key selling points that will be hammered at you over and over is the warm tropical locations of timeshare resorts. Whether the salespeople are trying to talk you into buying a timeshare at a particular resort or joining a vacation club, beachfront condos in Florida and elsewhere will be front and center.
Unfortunately, a harsh reality of so many timeshare resorts being in the Atlantic and Caribbean is that the properties are vulnerable to hurricanes. What they didn’t tell you in that timeshare presentation is that hurricane season is much longer than you may have thought — from June 1 through November 30.
Timeshare owners in 2022 were reminded of the seriousness of the problem when Hurricane Ian hit Florida. Ian, the deadliest storm to hit Florida in nearly a century, tore through Florida and South Carolina and caused massive flooding and wind damage to properties all over those states.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, as people try to get back to their lives and assess the damage, it’s only natural for timeshare owners to wonder, “Will Hurricane Ian affect my timeshare maintenance fees?” In this article, we’ll take a look at that question as well as other ways that Hurricane Ian can hit you in the pocketbook long after the storm has subsided.
All timeshare owners are likely familiar with the concept of maintenance fees, which are charged annually by timeshare companies to unit owners. These fees are supposedly linked to the ongoing costs of running timeshare resorts. The salaries of resort staff, utilities, building maintenance, and landscaping are all items that would normally be paid for with these fees.
Timeshare contracts usually address the fact that maintenance fees can be expected to increase every year, and they may set a cap on those annual increases. If you owned a timeshare for any length of time, you’re likely aware that those increases always happen.
Though companies may blame the increase on inflation or other external factors, you can depend on them to find a reason to increase them every single year.
So, on that measure, Hurricane Ian provided timeshare companies with a great reason to increase your maintenance fees. Resorts will likely have to repair flood and wind damage. They’ll also have to pay for repair materials, which you’ll find have also increased in price since Hurricane Ian due to demand.
Severe storms may also spur state and local legislatures to update building codes and similar laws, which may affect timeshare resorts and impose further building costs. After 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, for example, Florida adopted a new universal building code that required buildings to be able to withstand hurricanes.
Timeshare resorts will likely raise maintenance fees as the first response to these factors, stating that the possibility of increases was made clear from the initial timeshare contract and that it is preferable to calling for a special assessment to repair the damage. Though of course, nothing is stopping them from doing that as well, as we discuss below.
Because your annual maintenance fees will almost certainly go up as a result of Hurricane Ian, you might think that the bleeding would end there. We are sorry to tell you that likely won’t be the case. There are at least two other areas where you will likely feel the storm’s effects: special assessments and unit reservations.
When there is a natural disaster or other event that causes major damage to a property, your timeshare company will likely send out a special assessment to unit owners. A special assessment is a single bill for a specified amount to handle a particular repair or building upgrade project.
Though timeshare companies and homeowner associations don’t send out special assessments regularly, a natural disaster that damages the timeshare property is precisely the kind of event that could give rise to one. The amount of the assessment would depend on the extent of the damage and the number of owners paying, but you could expect to lose at least a few hundred – if not a thousand – dollars to a special assessment.
“But,” you may ask, “aren’t annual maintenance fees capped under my contract?” They may well be, but special assessments aren’t subject to that cap. Let’s say, for example, that you have a 12% cap in your contract, and your annual fee is currently $1,000. Due to Hurricane Ian, your timeshare company raises your maintenance fees as much as they can, to $1,120.
A special assessment, though, would be added on top of those fees. Your timeshare company would likely be within its rights to levy a separate special assessment of $1,000 — for total fees of $2,120 in the current year. In other words, Hurricane Ian could cause more than a 100% net timeshare fee increase, between annual fees and special assessments.
Also keep in mind that, even though they are not a regular occurrence, special assessments can keep coming. Fixing hurricane damage might be one thing. But there may be another assessment for updating a property to a new building code or because of hurricane-related litigation against the timeshare company.
Apart from the increased fees and repair costs, Hurricane Ian will also likely make timeshares even harder to use. The increased repair and maintenance activity will take more timeshare units “offline,” meaning that you will have fewer units to pick from and may not be able to get a timeshare reservation in the time and place you want.
Plus, supply chain issues may cause delays during the rebuilding process, which will further exacerbate the unavailability of timeshare units.
So, the situation looks like this: You’ll be paying even more for a timeshare vacation that you can’t use on your actual vacation days, if you can use it at all. Thus, it appears Hurricane Ian will leave a different kind of “perfect storm” in its wake for timeshare owners.
If you’re reading this article, it’s likely because you are tired of paying an ever-increasing list of timeshare fees, and you know that events like Hurricane Ian are only going to make the problem worse. Timeshare companies are notorious for making exits from their contracts nearly impossible. Even though they might provide what looks like a good exit program, you’ll often find structural roadblocks and employees who simply refuse to let you go.
The professionals at Centerstone Group know all about timeshares and the problems they cause. Collectively, we have decades of experience in the industry. We know how these companies work, and more importantly, the tricks they use against their customers to keep them in bad contracts.
We can put that knowledge to work for you. Maybe you have a fairly recent contract that you need to cancel. Maybe you’re a longtime owner who can’t pay the fees anymore, and you need us to engage your timeshare company with one of our proprietary pressure campaigns to make them loosen their grip on your wallet. We can help you in both cases.
And if a timeshare company is going to make a legal issue out of your exit, we can help with that too. We work with law firms and timeshare attorneys all across the United States to solve legal issues with timeshares. And, when you use us to help, we can get you preferred rates with our partners, so you end up saving on any legal fees you do have to incur.
Making a clean break from your timeshare is an important decision, and you should work with a trustworthy company. Centerstone Group is a leader in ethical timeshare exits. We’re an A-rated timeshare exit company accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and our reviews and testimonials will show you why.
Hurricane Ian was a serious natural disaster that caused a huge loss of life and damage to property. Rest assured, though, that your timeshare company will take advantage of the tragedy to increase fees wherever it can. And after Hurricane Ian has passed into memory, there may be another hurricane, natural disaster, or other event that timeshare companies will use to justify fee increases.
You don’t have to take this forever. If the cost of your timeshare has become too much to bear, there is nothing wrong with standing up for yourself and getting out of a bad relationship with your timeshare company. Give us the chance to show you what we can do for you. Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation.