How Short-Term Rental Sites are Being Held Liable for Personal Injury

The Importance of Liability Awareness for Short-Term Rentals

Short-term rental companies like Airbnb are growing in popularity. Often, travelers find that renting a private home through the sites is far less expensive than a hotel in a city they want to visit. Homeowners are finding it is an easy way to make some extra money. However, renters and homeowners must be aware of the liability that exists should someone be injured while staying in the home. In Texas, a man staying at an Airbnb was killed when a branch holding a rope swing broke when he sat on it, killing him instantly. In a blog post by the man’s son, it was pointed out that the rope swing was what enticed the family to rent the home over Thanksgiving weekend and is an example of how homeowners can be held liable for any injury to guests staying in their home, a Las Vegas personal injury law firm says.


Homeowner’s Insurance

If a visiting friend slips and falls in your home, breaking an arm, you can reach out to your homeowner’s insurance to cover your friend’s medical bills. However, most homeowner’s policies have an explicit exclusion for commercial activity conducted in your home. This means an Airbnb renter may not be eligible from compensation from the insurance company for an injury, leaving you to pay the medical bills out of your own pocket. You could be sued for negligence because the sidewalk was uneven or not well lit. Without homeowner coverage, you will not only be responsible for medical bills and lost wages but attorney’s’ fees as well.


Hosting Platform Coverage

Hosting platforms sometimes offer liability insurance. For example, Airbnb offers Host Protection Insurance that provides liability coverage for up to $1 million per occurrence and may also provide coverage should a guest cause damage in the home. It does not cost extra and is covered in Airbnb’s basic fee. It is also primary coverage which means you do not have to use your homeowner’s insurance first before the Airbnb policy kicks in. HomeAway, according to a Las Vegas injury attorney, does not offer liability coverage. Instead, it refers homeowners to CBIZ, an insurance company that provides specific policies that include property and contents damage, liability plus loss of business. HomeAway, which was recently purchased by Expedia, earns a marketing fee when its customers buy a policy.


Statistics on Hosting Injuries

It is difficult to determine how many people are injured or killed while staying at hosting sites. In addition to the swing incident, there was a death caused by carbon monoxide poisoning at an Airbnb in Taiwan. HomeAway reports that there have been no deaths in homes listed on their site although they did not provide information about injuries. Hotels and motels are also relatively silent on how many people are injured on their properties, according to a Las Vegas personal injury law firm. It is also essential to understand that homeowners do not have the same regulations regarding fire alarms and exit doors that hotels must follow. The hosting platforms reserve the right to inspect properties, but they don’t do so.


Renting Your Home on a Hosting Platform

There are many steps you can take to protect yourself if you choose to use a hosting platform to rent your entire home or just a room in your house. You want to be sure all steps are well lit and that all walking areas are free of obstacles or debris. Any areas that may be slippery, like bathrooms, kitchens or tile decking should have rugs or other anti-slip options to prevent someone from getting hurt. Be sure all railings, whether on steps, decks or balconies are as secure as possible. Notify your homeowner’s insurance company even if you choose to use the hosting platform’s insurance. Provide guests with information on what to do in an emergency, such as a fire. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to be sure they are in good working order. If you have a swimming pool, add a pool alarm should someone with small children decide to rent your home.

When you allow strangers to stay in your home, you must assume some risk. You cannot foresee all accidents that could happen. A railing you felt was secure may pull loose while your guest is there causing an injury or a sudden rainstorm could make a pool deck exceedingly slippery. You want to protect yourself as much as possible, but if a guest who is renting your home is injured, it is critical that you speak to an attorney. Contact a Las Vegas injury attorney at the Schnitzer Law Firm today by calling 702-960-4050, emailing or filling out the simple online form.