These days, hotels and lodges are not your only option when it comes to traveling. Airbnb is an American company that offers short-term leases and rentals in homes, apartments, and other properties across the globe. Their online marketplace connects those offering to host (the “Host”) with those seeking accommodations (the “Guest”). Airbnb serves as a one-stop-shop with countless listings, around the world, for travelers to choose from, and there are options available for every budget, at a variety of price ranges. Airbnb’s business model provides benefits to both the Host and the Guest – the Guest is afforded the familiar comforts of staying in a home rather than a hotel, whereas, the Host is able to earn supplementary income for renting their home or apartment.
How Airbnb Works
Anyone can access the system by creating a free account, which gives users the ability to list their own properties, or search for unique spaces all over the world. Airbnb guarantees the safety and security of its service by verifying personal profiles and listings. Once the Host accepts a reservation request, the Guests can pay directly through the website and even share payments with others. Then there is only one thing left to do, sit back, relax, and enjoy your stay; it’s that easy!
How Airbnb Liability is Different than a Hotel
When renting your home, you might expect that your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance would cover liability costs for any guests that are injured during their stay. However, because you are making a profit by renting your home or apartment, your insurance company may require you to purchase business insurance to cover a premises liability claim. This may differ depending on whether you are renting a house or an apartment, and should be reviewed with your insurance company prior to hosting Airbnb Guests.
If An Airbnb Guest Becomes Injured In An Accident, Who Is Liable?
If a Guest suffers from injuries while staying at an Airbnb, liability may vary from situation to situation. Oftentimes, the Host may be found liable if a danger in their home or apartment, known or unknown, causes the injury. For instance, if the Host failed to inform the Guest of a leaky roof and they suffer a slip and fall injury, or, if a loose shelf crashes down and hits a Guest on the head and they suffer a brain injury, the Host could be found liable.
If the Host failed to inform their insurance company that they were renting their home or apartment, or obtain the appropriate insurance coverage, the injured Guest could be out of luck and without recourse from an insurance company. When it comes to Airbnb itself, the injured Guest is also out of luck since Airbnb clearly states in their “Terms of Service” that the company is not liable and anyone using the service assumes liability.
The Host is assuming risks too, especially if they do not have insurance to cover renting out their home or apartment. The Host runs the risk of the injured Guest filing legal proceedings for their injuries, which could come at great expense, since the Host may be forced to pay legal costs to defend the lawsuit. Further, the Host may be exposed personally, and their own individual assets may be at risk if the injured Guest obtains a legal judgment against them.
The situation becomes even more complicated if the Host is renting their home or apartment and decides to turn around and temporarily sublet the place to a Guest via Airbnb. The landlord may try to avoid responsibility for the Guest’s injury, and associated costs, if their lease terms prohibit using the property for commercial purposes or to make a profit. In this situation, the Host’s decision to violate their rental agreement may exclude the landlord from liability. It is also highly unlikely that standard renter’s insurance would cover a Guest’s accident.
5 Ways You Can Make Your Rental Safer
As a Host on Airbnb, you can take a few additional steps to ensure safety for your Guests. Take a look at five ways you can prevent an Airbnb accident.
- Pay and communicate solely on Airbnb – Use the messaging system to speak with your Guests. If you are unsure, then follow your instincts.
- Complete your “House Rules” – Inform your Guests before they book of any rules you have within your home, which, at the risk of eviction, are not to be broken. Examples include no smoking or drug use, no parties or events, not suitable for pets, specific check-in/check-out times, specific visiting hours, and any other guest policies. Additionally, if you are part of a homeowner’s association, or live in a building with detailed rules or guidelines, it would be advisable to make these clear to your Airbnb Guest from the start.
- Fill out a “Safety Card” – If your Guest is injured, it is important for them to know exactly who to call and where to go. If you will not be in town or close by during the rental period it may be beneficial to make sure a trusted friend or neighbor is nearby who is capable of quickly reaching the premises should something go awry. Make sure Guests have important emergency information including emergency escape routes or building procedures, fire extinguisher locations, and emergency contact information for yourself and any of your associates.
- Make sure your home is in top shape – Take care of any loose wiring, faulty structures, or other unsafe and hazardous conditions that could hurt a Guest.
- Get proper insurance – Make sure you are fully covered in the event of an accident. It is best to do so by contacting your own homeowner’s or renter’s insurance company to determine how protected you are and to see if you need to purchase additional coverage. Beginning in January 2015, Airbnb began including no-extra-cost $1 million “Host Protection Insurance” for hosts, and, in some cases, their landlords, which was designed to cover the liability associated with a peer-to-peer rental. However, Airbnb’s website warns that the coverage is “subject to certain conditions, limitations, and exclusions.” As such, it is critical to read the fine print and be sure to understand which claims may, or not be covered.
If you live in New York State and you’ve been injured while renting an Airbnb or in a premises liability accident, call The People’s Lawyer for a free consultation. We are experienced personal injury lawyers that can help you fight for your rightful compensation. Contact our office for free legal advice today.
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Tags: Premises Liability