A special assessment is a bill that timeshare owners receive from the Resort Developer or Home Owners Association for shared property expenses that are not part of the normal operating HOA budget. This fee is paid in addition to annual maintenance fees and is not covered by the reserve fund maintained by the HOA and funded by the ownership base. It is an assessment or fee that is not a schedule bill, which is why it is called a “special assessment”.
Why Do Special Assessments Exist?
Special assessments can be imposed on timeshare owners for many reasons but usually vary depending on the size of the company. A large developer, such as Starwood, might use a special assessment as a way to update an older property and bring the unit standards consistent with the branding requirements of the Sheraton or Westin brand standards. A small developer or property exclusively maintained by the HOA might use a special assessment to install an elevator in a property that only has stairway access to upper floors due to the natural aging of the ownership base. These expenses are usually large projects and are not covered by the annual budget. The developer resort is reluctant to place this expense in the normal maintenance fee as that would have a negative effect on the new sale presentations taking place daily.
How Can I Avoid Paying Assessments?
If you are already an owner, you must pay the assessment. These fees aren’t very common, but they are typically more common in smaller projects and developments. Many of the branded timeshare developers (Disney, Marriott, Hilton, Westin, etc.) have designed the HOA structure with reserves in place to offset some future expenses. However, many of the large developers have been required to bill owners through a special assessment, so many factors may contribute to the possibility of a special assessment in the future.