What are Timeshare Maintenance Fees?
While this may seem like an EXTREMELY basic question, many timeshare owners simply do not know and perhaps are afraid to ask simply assuming that it just "comes with the territory of owning a timeshare. Sadly while this may be true, it is vital that you completely understand your responsibility when it comes to maintenance fees as an owner of a timeshare.
In a nutshell, Timeshare maintenance fees are annual charges that timeshare owners pay to cover the costs of maintaining and operating the property These are typically charged each year you own your Timeshare and are an important part of owning a timeshare, as they ensure that the property is kept in good condition and that you have access to all the amenities and services you need to enjoy your stay.
How are Timeshare Maintenance Fees Calculated?
The amount of your timeshare maintenance fee is determined by several factors, including the size and type of unit you own, the resort or system you own in (points vs deeds for instance), and the amenities and services offered.
The cost to operate a Timeshare is spread out among all owners at that resort via an annual maintenance fees. The fee must also build up reserves to pay for non-recurring costs like furniture, landscaping, external upgrades, appliances etc. that need periodic replacement and other capital costs as normal physical deterioration occurs, just like your own costs of owning your house or car etc. Cost is established by the timeshare resort developer or HOA (homeowners association).
What do my Maintenance Fees pay for?
Timeshare maintenance fees are used to cover a wide range of expenses related to maintaining and operating the property. Some of the most common expenses covered by these fees include:
- Cleaning and maintenance of the property, including regular housekeeping services
- Upkeep of the grounds and landscaping, including the cost of landscaping and grounds maintenance
- Repair and replacement of appliances, furniture, and other amenities
- Utilities, such as electricity, water, and gas
- Property taxes and insurance
- Staff/Employee Salaries
- Upgrades and improvements to the property and amenities
By paying these maintenance fees, timeshare owners are ensuring that their unit will be well-maintained and that they will have access to all the amenities and services they need to enjoy their vacation.
Note that each year an owner should be provided with an annual budget explaining the finances and expenses of the resort to show exactly what % of your fees pay for what! This should be included with your annual maintenance fee statement sent by your management company.
Timeshare Special Assessments?
Special Assessments are sometimes added to maintenance fees to cover unexpected (non-reserved) expenses. These assessments are passed by the HOA board of directors and apply to all owners. Severe storm damage not completely covered by insurance would be an example where an extra assessment would apply (think Florida or Caribbean timeshares during hurricane season). These also come without warning and can actually be levied at any time!
Just another tidbit you are not likely to hear about in a sales presentation before you buy (or after for that matter until the bill arrives).
How much are typical Timeshare Maintenance Fees?
Maintenance fees vary with the location and resort, but are for the most part are between $500 to $3000/year. Obviously this varies wildly depending on the type of ownership type. I believe the most recent (2022) ARDA research study put the average timeshare maintenance fee across the board is in the $1200/year range.
Here is an article that shows a comparison chart between many common Timeshare Resort systems showing the difference in fees:
Timeshare System Comparison Chart
What happens if I stop paying my Maintenance Fees?
It's important to pay your timeshare maintenance fees on time, as failure to do so can result in a variety of consequences. Depending on the terms of your contract, you may be charged late fees or interest if you miss a payment deadline. In some cases, the resort may also be able to take legal action against you to collect the fees owed in terms of collections but it really depends on the situation and the resort!
We actually have an entire separate advice article on this very subject located here:
What Happens if I Stop Paying my Timeshare Maintenance Fees for additional information on this subject!
Note that failure to pay your maintenance fees will also result in the loss of the ability to use the timeshare. If you continue to miss payments, the resort will eventually foreclose on your unit
Do Timeshare Maintenance fees always go up?
The short answer is yes!
What is important to understand is that when you buy your timeshare now, there is nothing that locks in your maint. fee for the rest of your ownership tenure which in most cases, is forever for deeded properties. This means that 20 years from now, your annual fee of $1200 could be (and will be) significantly higher. Such is the case with the industry now as many resorts have increased their annual maint. fees to a point where it is becoming less and less desirable to own....and in some rare cases...more expensive to own in annual maint fees, than a non owner can RENT the unit for an entire week. Yes you read that right, there are cases where it is more expensive to OWN the interval than the average joe can RENT the exact same unit from an existing owner (or RCI/II).
One article written for Timeshare Salesmen that gave "answers" for the commonly asked questions from buyers to counter any arguments or objections the buyer may have to signing right then and there. One of the questions was about maintenance fees and if they would increase. The answer was quite amusing to me along the lines of "of course they will go up, but you WANT them to". Citing the fact that if you were a homeowner, and the value of your house went up year after year...the cost of owning said house would also increase etc etc. And thats true to a point, but they also made a point to tell you that there were "restrictions" and "guidelines" that limit the amount a resort can increase the annual maintenance fee each year. I would certainly like the salesman to whip out the bylaws and point out those guidelines and restrictions to show me exactly what those limits are! AND YOU SHOULD ASK!
The Final Word on Timeshare Maintenance Fees!
Remember, education is key BEFORE you buy. In no situation should you ever be pressured to sign immediately. always always always ask questions and do your research before you sign a lifetime commitment! Timeshare Maintenance Fees are always a sore subject for many owners, but it is far less painful when owners know these details up front vs after buying and discovering it for the first time!
Many discussions around Timeshare fees take place on the TUG forums every year around January (when most come due!) For more detailed help and information on the resale market, be sure to visit the TUG : Buying Selling and Renting Timeshares forum