A common question posed by owners is on the thorny subject of maintenance fees. As you will know every year, normally in December, an envelope drops on the mat from your timeshare resort. It is probably fair to say that very few people ever read the purchase contract in detail, if you are one of the non-readers we can assure you that your annual maintenance is a contractual liability and the one thing you can be certain of is that financially this fee only goes in one direction; this being up! So each year you will be paying more and more….

The question we alluded to above is “what happens if I don’t pay” well a certainty is that it will not get you out of your timeshare. Many consumers tell us that they have not paid for a number of years and have had no contact from the resort, so they assume they are out. Put simply, unless you receive a letter from the resort or their management company confirming that you are out then you are definitely still in!

In many cases the annual fee is relatively modest in debt terms so it is not worth the resorts attempting to recover this debt, but don’t be fooled by their absence of communication, the sums outstanding are quietly accruing in the background. As an example, you owe £450 for a single year in maintenance; given that this charge will rise by approximately 5% P/A, after just 5 years the total owing would be £2,610, now this is a more likely sum that your resort will try to reclaim. You may think because you have not been hassled for some considerable time, that the problem has gone away. This is a disillusion because one day you will receive a letter from a debt collector on behalf of the resort making your position very clear.

You may have read in the news that Silverpoint has gone into liquidation, their resort management company; Excel Hotels & Resorts, who are responsible for the collection of maintenance fees for all the former Silverpoint resorts, were recently taken over by the Ona Group.

The Ona Group based in Barcelona, Spain, actively chase unpaid maintenance fees, even for resorts they have taken over where the owner had ended their contract with the original resort over 10 years ago prior. Ona Group claims that they have no record of the contract being cancelled and are taking those people through the Spanish Courts for up to 15 years of unpaid fees. They use various law firms who are supposedly expert lawyers in the field of timeshare. The worst part of this external involvement will be the cost to the “debtor”, once the Spanish court has issued a judgement; it will be passed to a UK law firm and go through the County Courts for execution. Quite how this will be affected by Brexit is unsure, but it is probable that cross border legal actions are unlikely to be affected.

Once the debt has been passed to a recovery company, you will be dealing with them and no longer the resort; they will also include huge amounts of interest and legal fees when pursing the debt. You will then risk being issued with a County Court Judgement, commonly known as a CCJ. This will also have a very negative effect on your credit rating, preventing you from getting loans and even a mortgage.

The only solution to stopping maintenance fees is to legally exit the timeshare but that is not as easy as it may seem, just contacting the resort and saying “I want out” will almost certainly fail. Engaging the services of a specialist exit company would be sound advice but be aware that like any professional company, there will be fees payable. It should be remembered that it will be difficult for any specialist company to assist if you are more than 5 years outstanding on your maintenance, so the message would be take action whilst you still can!

For an initial discussion to get the facts relating to your personal circumstance, companies  we would suggest and taken from our white list, include https://www.ecc-eu.com/ or https://canarianlegalalliance.com/.

Above all, don’t play ostrich and bury your head in the sand as the problem will only get worse over time, court cases and CCJs are not much fun.  

Posted on: February 7, 2020

For more information regarding this article or assistance in any other timeshare related issues please contact the TCA on 0203 519 3808 or email: info@TimeshareConsumerAssociation.org.uk

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