Q&A: How to walk away from timeshare maintenance fees

Dear Liz: We have owned a timeshare since 2007. It’s paid in full. We are not using it anymore and would like to stop paying the annual maintenance fees. Help! Selling or giving it away is not easy. Should we just stop paying the maintenance fees? At 71, how bad could the impact be?

Answer: Timeshare developers have different policies about pursuing unpaid maintenance fees. If the developer turns your account over to a collections agency, your credit could suffer for up to 7½ years.

Before you simply stop paying, consider first asking the developer to take back your timeshare. Only a few timeshare developers have formal programs to accept surrendered timeshares, but many will consider doing so as long as the timeshare is paid off. Ask to speak to the person who handles such surrenders or “deed backs.”

If the developer resists, you have a few other options. Sites such as the Timeshare Users Group and RedWeek have marketplaces where you can list your timeshare. You may have to offer to pay the maintenance fees for a year or two as an incentive to get someone to take the timeshare off your hands. Another alternative is to rent your timeshare, since you might be able to cover the maintenance fees that way.

If someone contacts you offering to help sell your timeshare, it’s probably a scam. You can find legitimate brokers who facilitate sales by contacting the Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Assn., but these professionals typically only handle sales at high-end resorts.