Fires, hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters have been making headlines all too often lately, and numerous timeshare resorts have found themselves in the line of fire. If you’ve been trying to get out of your timeshare contract, you might initially feel a sense of relief, believing that you could finally be rid of the place. Unfortunately, if that’s what you’ve been thinking, you’d be wrong. You’re still responsible for holding up your end of the bargain. The only change now is that things will probably get worse.
For one thing, the resort likely has no intention of throwing in the towel. It almost certainly plans to rebuild, and it will be counting on your money to help. You will therefore remain on the hook for paying your regular maintenance and fees. Worse, you can now expect these costs to increase in direct proportion to the extent of the damage.
This sort of disaster is far more likely to occur to timeshare properties in such popular regions as Florida, the Gulf coast and the Caribbean while those located in tornado and earthquake zones are also at risk. Once disaster does strike, it can easily render your unit completely unusable, but this might do nothing to relieve you of your fiscal responsibility.
Whether you will suffer in a monetary sense depends on several factors. These include:
- Insurance. If your association maintains sufficient coverage, you might be in luck. The same is true of the money that remains in the reserve fund maintained by your property owners’ association. Each of these is, of course, at least partially funded by the maintenance fees shouldered by each individual timeshare owner on a regular basis.
- The extent of the damage. In the worst cases, it is highly possible that the insurance coverage and the amount remaining in the timeshare company’s reserve fund will not be sufficient to cover the entire cost of needed repairs and debris removal.
After the resort has estimated the extent of the damage, any rise in maintenance fees will normally be borne in equal measure by all resort members. In some cases, special assessment fees will also kick in to cover the cost of remodeling the units, replacing the furnishings and making other repairs. The exact amount of cost will vary in accordance with the timeshare company’s insurance deductible.
Will Your Unit Be Usable When You Need It?
In addition to having a possibly negative impact on your finances, any catastrophic event that damages your timeshare unit is bound to affect your ability to use it, particularly if your scheduled period of residence falls close to the time of the disaster itself. Your resort may find itself in need of temporarily shutting down or indefinitely suspending service.
If you are entirely unable to use your unit for the foreseeable future, your legal rights will vary not only from one state to another but also between the different timeshare companies. Despite being unable to take advantage of your allotted time in the unit, you will normally still be expected to continue making payments as well as to cough up money to cover all fees, taxes and other regular costs.
You must also expect that your resort could remain out of commission for months, a year or possibly forever. Much will depend on the availability of laborers and building materials, to say nothing of the fact that in cases of widespread damage, your timeshare company may spend many months waiting for payments from insurers who find it in their best interests to continue dragging their feet.
Getting Rid of Your Timeshare Unit After a Disaster
If you’ve been thinking of dumping your timeshare for good, damage from a catastrophic event is likely to strengthen your resolve, particularly when your costs start trending skyward on a unit from which you can no longer benefit. Once the repairs are complete, you may be in luck, for there are people for whom a refurbished unit could hold a certain appeal. In most cases, however, an understandable sense of desperation at a time like this could make you easy prey for scam artists.
Fortunately, there are ways of getting out of timeshare ownership, and this will usually entail getting out of the contract. If you are anxious to part company with your timeshare, O’Grady Law can help. Our experience in dealing with timeshare developers will assist you in cutting loose either through litigation or contract cancellation. For a solution that is both legal and permanent, please contact our office today.