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Who is in Charge of my Timeshare?

Author note: While there are actually a number of different kinds of Timeshares, this article will focus on US based deeded property resorts that have a Homeowners Association.

What is a Homeowners Association (HOA)?

For all intents and purposes, the actual owner of the Timeshare Resort is the HOA, which is established by the Resort developer for the purposes of maintaining ownership and management of the property in question. In essence, every owner at a resort is a member (it's not something you can decline) of the HOA and hence has a say in every decision made about the resort, however in most situations a small group of individuals is actually responsible for specifically proposing and voting on these decisions, and this group is defined as the Board of Directors (BOD).

Every HOA is governed by a set of rules established with the building of the Resort, called the Bylaws. Each and every owner at a Timeshare Resort should have (or obtain) a copy of these bylaws and at the very least, read them at least once in their entirety. Even though you may not be a lawyer, and or understand everything 100%, you should at least be familiar with the rules and regulations (and more importantly, your rights and responsibilities as an owner) at your own Resort.

What does the HOA Board of Directors (BOD) do?

In most situations, the BOD is responsible for establishing annual maintenance fees and dues (special assessments and maintenance fees are set by the BOD), adopting, modifying and enforcing the HOA bylaws, and maintaining the day-to-day operations/etc of running a Timeshare Resort.

* Note: In many cases, the HOA will choose to hire a 3rd party company called a Management Company to handle the day-to-day operations of the resort including housekeeping/groundskeeping, collection of fees/dues, accounts payable/receivable, etc etc.

Ok, so how does my money get used?

Each year the HOA/BOD will (should) have a budget and it should list each and every dollar the resort earned, and each dollar it spent in expenses. This report is (should be) available to any and all owners at the resort. If not automatically provided to you or be available online, you should request it! After all this is YOUR money and YOUR resort. Sadly most owners only think about their Timeshare twice in the year. First when their annual maintenance fee bill comes in the mail, and second when they actually go to the resort on vacation!

In these cases, if there are complaints about how the HOA/BOD is using your fees, or complaints that certain items are in disrepair, or any of the other various complaints that any Resort might otherwise receive from its owners, this falls on you for not actively participating in the ownership of your own Resort!

I cannot stress enough how at the very least, owners should at least read over the material available to them that describes the HOA meetings and decisions each year, as in nearly all situations these decisions directly impact your annual fees!

So what say do I have in all of this?

All HOAs have regular meetings where new proposals are announced and voted on by the BOD. Unfortunately it is extremely common for most owners at a resort to not live within a reasonable distance from the Resort to attend these meetings, however the minutes from each of these meetings is (should be) available for each and every owner to read and see exactly what is taking place even if you cannot attend.

Remember, these meetings control EVERYTHING about how the resort is run and maintained. Resort has plumbing issues? That'll be discussed in the HOA meetings, along with proposals to hire contractors to perform repairs or maintenance. It costs money to maintain and run a Resort, and the BOD is tasked with making each and every one of those decisions on behalf of the owners. If there is no input or feedback from the owners, the members of the Board of Directors will simply use their best judgment in making these decisions.

This is not to insinuate that the BOD members would not be working in the best interests of the owners of the resort, but it IS important to note that many BOD members may actually work for the Resort Developer, and while they may claim to be unbiased, when it comes down to the bottom line (money), I wouldn't hand over my checkbook to them without at least having my opinion heard!

Sadly so many owners just keep paying more year after year without voicing any opinion to the HOA/BOD assuming that whatevery decisions they made were not only the correct ones, but the most cost effective ones as well!

How does one get on the BOD?

HOA bylaws should determine how the members of the Board of Directors are appointed or elected (as both are common), yet another reason for you as an owner to read your Bylaws and determine:

  • How many seats are on the board?
  • Are any of those seats appointed by the Resort Developer?
  • How many seats are chosen by election from the owners?
  • How long is the tenure of an elected seat? (i.e. how frequently are elections held)

These are important questions to ask yourself as an owner, it is especially important to note if there are more appointed seats on the BOD than elected ones, thus ensuring that the developer can maintain a "voting majority" on any and all decisions made by the HOA. (i.e. the levying of special assessments to all owners for example).

This is not to insinuate that the BOD members would not be working in the best interests of the owners of the resort, but it IS important to note that many BOD members may actually work for the Resort Developer, and while they may claim to be unbiased, when it comes down to the bottom line (money), I wouldn't hand over my checkbook to them without at least having my opinion heard!

In conclusion, it is YOUR responsibility as an owner to educate yourself on your HOA members and Bylaws so that you can be an informed owner and take action when necessary to ensure your resort is run the way you see fit. After all you OWN this just don't vacation there.

The Final World

Many owners are perfectly happy not knowing the day to day workings and management of the resort as long as it doesnt impact their vacation and as long as their maintenance fees remain reasonable!

Unfortunately until either of these things are impacted said owners will not take part in HOA discussions or attend any HOA meetings and that is a shame as each and every owner at the resort is indeed a part owner of the entire resort, not only financially responsible for their own week/ownership, but an equal share partner with all the other owners in maintaining the entire resort!

In many cases individual owners fight an uphill battle to get a seat on a board especially if the majority of the existing board are elected by the developer of the resort, but it can be done! A great example of this is the Kauai Beach Villas resort, you can read all about how owners (also TUG members) were able to win a seat at the table!

The fact remains in the end that if you dont take at least some part in learning (and following) how your resort is managed, you have very little recourse should problems arise so at the very least find out how you can get the information or minutes of each annual meeting if available and go from there!

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