Who’s liable if someone dies when you’re renting your home?

Whos-liable-if-someone-dies-when-youre-renting-out-your-home

Have you heard of Airbnb? Airbnb is a new budget solution for travellers who are tired of paying hefty fees for short hotel stays. Instead, Airbnb empowers homeowners and apartment renters to make money off their additional space. Airbnb allows these people to rent a room, or an entire apartment for a short period of time.

It’s the perfect win-win solution for people with extra space to make some extra cash, and for travellers looking to save some. But nobody wins if proper safety protocols are not observed and someone gets hurt.

Airbnb is a great idea, but definitely raises some questions about injury liability… especially if someone dies while staying at an Airbnb rental.

More and more recently, stories are popping up in the news of Airbnb stays gone wrong. Medium writer Zak Stone shares his personal story about how his dad died while staying at an Airbnb rental. He calls for the company to improve safety measures… but the question remains of how can they guarantee it across properties in 190+ countries? In another case, an Airbnb renter shares his story about being bit by a dog… and Airbnb refused to cover his medical expenses until after this article came out. But is it really Airbnb who should be held liable in that situation?

In some ways, AIrbnb should be held liable. For instance, Stone states that nobody is forcing Airbnb hosts to comply with safety measures – they’re really stated as more of a suggestion. But it’s the hosts, not Airbnb, who will deal with liability issues and payment in settlements that result. Regardless, Airbnb still needs to take whatever steps they can to educate hosts and protect renters.

As a rule, property owners are liable for accidents or injuries that happen on their own property. Hosts are expected to exercise reasonable care to ensure safety for guests.

Ron Lieber of the New York Times says it was inevitable that a problem like this would occur, and that a person considering home sharing should not ignore the liabilities that come with it.

How will an insurance company take to your news that you’re using a service like Airbnb to rent out the extra space in your home? According to Lieber, it really depends. But most of the time they have the legal right to deny a claim made regarding commercial activity in the home, which is where Airbnb liabilities would fall.

Besides death, there’s also personal property you should be worried about – especially if you’re renting out your entire place without supervision of the person renting it. Insurance companies may cover some damage, but Airbnb isn’t liable to cover any. In fact, the statement on their website reads, “Airbnb is not responsible for and disclaims any and all liability related to any and all listings and accommodation.”

Your insurance company may be able to sell you a special policy that will cover you in the event of injury or property damage (or theft) by an Airbnb renter. These policies would be useful if you plan on renting often, but you can also enquire about one time rental policies (like if Chicago hosts the Olympics!). Be careful of the in-between grey area.

So whether you’re thinking of renting out a room or apartment on Airbnb, or you’ve experienced an injury while on the renting side of things, you should get in touch with a personal injury lawyer to know your rights. We can be reached 24/7 for a free consultation at (312) 588-1900.

Have you had any good or bad experiences with Airbnb in the past? Share in the comments!

(Photo credit: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)