I’ve never met a timeshare owner who understood the ins and outs of why their maintenance fees go up every year. Of course there is inflation, but most resorts go up at a much higher rate of inflation than the national average. Believe it or not, there is a consumer protection in place that is now in jeopardy of being destroyed.
The Florida Vacation Plan & Timesharing Act is under attack with HB 453. It is sponsored by State Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, Republican and Senator Kelli Stargel, Republican and is making its way through congress now. Maintenance fees are one of the biggest complaints for owners of timeshare, but in the past, you had an annual cap in place of 125%. That is a lot, but at least there was a cap. If this bill passes, certain things will be excluded from this cap such as property taxes and various common area expenses. One of the biggest reasons to buy a timeshare is the common area, the pools and game rooms and waterparks. By leaving that out of the cap, the resort can raise those fees as much as they would like and there is no definition of “common area expenses.” This really affects anyone who is on a points based system. Points programs are paid for by your Club Dues and now a resort can raise those as much as they want as well.
The bill’s proponents say it will help operators of multisite timeshares recoup the costs of expenses out of control, including taxes, emergency repairs and improvements. That means it helps the conglomerates like Wyndham, Diamond, Bluegreen, Marriott, Holiday Inn, Disney, etc. All of the big boys.
There is also a provision that reduces liability for timeshare developers if they make errors in contracts. Errors or omissions that are considered “non-material” will not allow purchaser-cancellation rights after 10 days. Senator Stargel actually said that too many lawyers were making a living helping timeshare owners get out of their contracts. I guess this will help keep them paying their maintenance fees.
And lastly, there is a provision that says if you sell your timeshare to someone that does not pay the maintenance fees or assessments or taxes, then you will be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 per violation! So if you sold it on TUG or Ebay and that person can’t pay the fees, then you will be fined.
The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) donated $300,000 to the Republican Party of Florida. ARDA claims to help timeshare owners, but I don’t see how taking away protections for consumers helps. ARDA works for the Resort Developers. Don’t ever forget that. The Resort Developers make a lot of money from maintenance fees.
According to ARDA, the average 1 bedroom timeshare runs a maintenance fee of $660 per week. So each 1 bedroom brings in $34,320. That does not include taxes or club dues. I have a 2,600 square foot, 4-bedroom home and my total costs to run my house from electricity to mowing my lawn is just under $8,000 a year. And they bring in $34,320 for a 900 square foot 1 bedroom condo? Anyone want to start a resort?