AirBnb Liability Basics for Homeowners and Renters
Hotels have been a main component of travel for years, but according to the philosophy of AirBnb, hotels are so passé. AirBnb is a “community marketplace” and operates like Craigslist and other sites that facilitate the exchange of goods and services. In this case, though, the marketplace is offering travel accommodations. Through their website, people can rent out rooms in a house, or even an entire home or apartment. AirBnb rentals generally offer a more authentic vacation, allowing tourists to live like locals. By staying in a rented home, travelers experience the area, and have more privacy and freedom than they would in a hotel or hostel. Essentially, AirBnb is a modern, trendier version of the traditional bed-and-breakfast.
But is AirBnB safe? For people who want to rent out their homes, there is a threat of property damage. For guests, staying in an unknown person’s house raises questions about injuries, death, or assault. If someone is injured while staying at an AirBnb rental, who is liable? Similarly, who is liable for any damage or injuries to the owner of the rental?
Renting out your home is a risky choice. If renters damage property or steal your personal belongings, you face a rough situation — and one that you potentially walked right into by opening your doors to strangers. The dangers of damage and theft might deter people from offering their homes on AirBnb, so the company offers a solution.
Their “Host Guarantee” offers up to $1,000,000 in compensation for any damage that occurs as a result of the exchange. The guarantee covers physical property, meaning the house or building itself, plus personal property. They note, however, that certain personal belongings, like jewelry or artwork, may have limited protection. Additionally, the coverage does not extend to:
- Cash and securities
- Pets and animals, including livestock
- Shared areas
- Personal liability
For example, imagine a renter burns a house down by negligently leaving something on the stove. The damages to the structure and belongings would potentially be eligible for compensation under AirBnb’s policy. However, if a fancy necklace is left in plain sight, the owner might have a harder time seeking compensation if it is stolen.
Like with any report of damages or an injury, it’s important for the homeowner to document the damages. To make the process easier, AirBnB suggests that the homeowner should compile:
- Photographs of the damages
- A police report
- Receipts or other evidence of the value of the stolen or damaged property
- Proof of ownership
While AirBnb does offer excellent compensation, that does not necessarily mean that everyone receives it. On the bright side, though, reports of extreme property damage are rare.
While AirBnb asserts that theft and damage issues are rare, injuries to renter is a whole different issue. Injuries and even deaths have occurred at rentals, with causes ranging from falling trees to carbon monoxide poisoning. In other cases, travelers have been raped or mugged while staying in a rental.
Unlike the protection it offers to homeowners, AirBnb does not offer compensation for injuries to renters. According to their terms and conditions, a person rents a home at their own risk. AirBnb warns that it does not do background checks, and does not regulate or inspect the conditions of the property. Additionally, rentals are not required to have fire alarms, emergency exists, or CO detectors.
If there is something that could cause immediate harm, it is the homeowner’s problem, not theirs. When an injury occurs, any compensation comes out of the homeowner’s individual insurance. If their insurance does not cover commercial activity, the situation can become even more problematic.
Like with most things, an AirBnb rental can be a happy and safe place if everyone does their part. For homeowners, this means taking care of the property. Along with protecting personal items, homeowners should ensure that the rental is properly equipped with safety features, like smoke detectors, and should let visitors know of any alternative exists in case of an emergency. When renters are staying in a new accommodation, they should also be aware of any dangers, like a lack of CO detectors or dangerous outdoor equipment. If everyone stays vigilant, AirBnbs can continue to be the unique, convenient, and economical mode of lodging that they were meant to be!
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.