Can I Be Sued for Not Paying My Timeshare?

By Viola Horne

If you find yourself facing annual maintenance fees on a timeshare you no longer want or can't afford, there are ways to stop making the payments. Some will hurt your credit, but some can give you the relief you seek.

If You Stop Paying on Your Timeshare

According to the American Bar Association Family Legal Guide, "Some states consider some timeshare arrangements to be actual pieces of real estate, making other real estate laws applicable to timeshare agreements." In such cases, if you stop paying on your timeshare---either the mortgage, maintenance fees or special assessments---you will be held legally responsible, just like you are responsible to pay the mortgage on your house. While you can't be sued, you are responsible for paying your debts. If you can't or don't want to pay, the timeshare has the legal right to foreclose and take back your unit. That might be OK with you, except a foreclosure will seriously hurt your credit score for seven years. Before a timeshare owner forecloses on your unit, he will attempt to get you to pay your fees. He might offer a special deal or simply get a debt collector to hound you until you pay. If you don't want to---or can't---pay, contact the timeshare owner and ask if he'll take a deed in lieu of foreclosure. This allows you to quit claim the deed back to the company, essentially giving the timeshare back to them. You end up with nothing, but at least you're out from under the annual fees.

Better Options

Before you let the timeshare owner foreclose on your unit, try to sell it, rent it, trade it or give it away. You could try to sell it using free sites like Craigslist.com, but a more effective way is to see if the timeshare has its own website. If it does, it probably has a page that lists units for sale. See if you can list your unit there. You could be in luck. Perhaps someone is looking for another week near the one they own. Make sure not to overvalue it. Price it to sell and get out from under the maintenance fees. If you want to rent it or trade it, look into user's groups like TUG (Timeshare Users Group) at www.tug2.net. Many people would love to rent a timeshare for the space and value it offers over hotels. You could also try giving it away. Perhaps a friend or relative would like to take it for a few years. Or you could donate it to a local charity and write off the donation.

Conclusion

You are legally responsible for your timeshare fees, but you are not stuck with it forever. Check into the options and get yourself free of the obligation without harming your financial standing.