Companies like Air BnB appear to offer win-win situations. Travelers get accommodations with unique charm for less than the cost of an expensive hotel. Renters get to make a little extra money. It seems like the perfect match—until someone destroys your property or is injured on it. This is why understanding Air BnB liability is essential before agreeing on a contract.
Property Damage: Who’s Responsible?
In some places, your homeowner’s insurance will cover any property damage, but you may be subjected to larger premiums. Be careful: in Las Vegas, short-term rental (less than 30 days) is actually illegal. If you’re caught breaking the law, you’ll be liable for all damages incurred on your property, and you’ll have to pay some hefty fines. In one case, a Las Vegas resident was charged a whopping $29,000 for renting out a home short-term.
You may also be liable for the following situations:
- Damage to a neighbor’s property. Hopefully, you won’t have to worry about someone throwing a rager that spills into the neighbor’s yard and causes damages, but you never know. If your tenant starts a fire that injures or damages your neighbor or his or her property, you may also be liable. Air BnB offers $1 million in liability protection, but you’d be surprised how fast medical bills and property damage add up.
- Damage to a guest’s property. Did Fido chew up your tenant’s prized guitar? You may be liable for damages. Take advantage of Air BnB’s liability coverage to help protect yourself from paying more than you make.
In general, take a couple steps to protect yourself and your property: require a security deposit to encourage good behavior, and use Air BnB’s liability protection.
What if Someone Is Injured on My Property?
Short-term rentals like Air BnB raise interesting legal questions when it comes to personal injury liability. In one instance in 2013, a family was staying at a picturesque cottage in Texas when a man tried to get into a tire swing. Unbeknownst to him, the tree trunk was rotted and collapsed on him when he attempted to sit in it. He was pronounced brain dead and taken off life support within hours.
Generally, the law is clear when it comes to premises liability: owners are responsible for keeping guests safe on their property. But the legal responsibility becomes less apparent when a third party like Air BnB is involved. Air BnB is required to tell renters of any potential risks of staying at another’s property, but it isn’t directly liable for keeping patrons safe—the owners of the rental are. This is where homeowner’s insurance comes into play, as it did with the case in Texas.
If you’re renting out your home to Air BnB tenants, consider adding a renter’s provision to your homeowner’s policy. Having a rider that covers injuries to renters may save you the hassle of fighting with the insurance company to cover injuries later on.
In the meantime, take some basic steps to avoid injury:
- Do a walkthrough and point out major hazards. Mark them clearly or remove them, if possible.
- Look at your property through a child’s eye. If your tenants are bringing children, child-proof or warn your guests of any potential hazards ahead of time.
- Make sure your guests know how to safely use the heater in your rental.
- Follow all state and local ordinances about occupancy limits and safety, including access.
Your Air BnB Lawyer
If you have been injured on an Air BnB property or you’re a renter and someone was injured on your property, we may be able to help. Contact our office to set up a free initial consultation. We’ll advise you of your next best steps, risk-free.