If you buy a timeshare, you'll ordinarily be responsible for maintenance fees, special assessments, utilities, and taxes pertaining to the property. If you become delinquent in paying those fees and assessments, the timeshare association—the governing body that's responsible for the operation of the timeshare project—will be able to get a lien on your timeshare that could lead to a foreclosure.
Read on to learn more about timeshare liens and how they can be foreclosed.
A timeshare is a form of shared property ownership where several owners have the right to use the property (which may be a condominium, hotel room, cabin, RV, houseboat, etc.) for a specified period each year.
The main different types of timeshare interests are:
Sometimes people pay the full purchase price of the timeshare when they buy it. In other cases, people take out a loan to purchase their timeshare.
When you take out a mortgage loan to purchase a timeshare, you have to make payments—just like with a home mortgage—until the debt is paid off. If you fall behind in payments, your deeded interest in the timeshare property can be foreclosed. If you have a right-to-use timeshare and fail to make the required payments for the purchase or for maintenance, pursuant to provisions contained in the timeshare membership documents, the right-to-use can be repossessed.
Usually, in addition to the purchase price, timeshare owners are responsible for:
These costs—collectively referred to as “assessments”—can add up very quickly.
What people often don’t realize is that even if you're current in your deeded timeshare mortgage payments or the timeshare purchase price has been paid off, you could still face a foreclosure if you don’t keep up with the assessments. Or you could also be sued for the amount of the indebtedness.
The rules of the timeshare are set forth in what is called the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (Declaration). The Declaration usually provides that if there is any default in the payment of fees, costs, and assessments owed by an owner of a timeshare interest, the entire unpaid assessed sum with accrued interest and other charges shall become a lien against the timeshare interest of the non-paying owner.
In most cases, once an owner becomes delinquent on the assessments, the lien automatically attaches to the timeshare. In some cases, the timeshare association will record a lien with the county recorder to provide public notice that the lien exists, regardless of whether recordation is required by state law.
Depending on the terms contained in the Declaration, the timeshare owner might be liable for:
Once a timeshare association or other managing entity has a lien on a timeshare, it may foreclose on that lien as permitted by the Declaration. The resort can foreclose either through judicial foreclosure or a nonjudicial process, depending on state law and the terms in the Declaration. (Learn about ways to avoid a timeshare foreclosure.)
To judicially foreclose an assessment lien, the association must file a lawsuit against the homeowner and obtain a judgment from the court granting permission to sell the timeshare to satisfy the lien. To nonjudicially foreclose, the association does not have to go through state court, but rather follows specific procedures as dictated by state law, as well as by the Declaration. (Find out how a timeshare foreclosure will affect your credit score.)
State laws often place particular due process requirements on how and when assessments liens can be foreclosed. Arizona, for example, permits a timeshare association to hold a nonjudicial trustee’s sale of the timeshare estate if the owner has been delinquent in the payment of assessments for one year. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 33-2211(A)).
To learn about the laws governing timeshare foreclosures in your state or in the state where your timeshare is located (if different from where you live), review the state’s statutes. To find out how to do your own legal research, see Nolo’s Laws and Legal Research section. Or talk to a local real estate attorney or foreclosure attorney.