Airbnb is a home-sharing company that connects people who want to rent out their homes with people who are looking for accommodations.
Similar to peer-to-peer ridesharing companies, the rapid growth of Airbnb, which has 150 million users spread across more than 65,000 cities, has raised new legal questions. Perhaps no incident drove this home more than the recent Halloween shooting at a California Airbnb.
Let’s take a look at the question most renters (and homeowners) are asking:
Who’s liable when someone is injured at an Airbnb?
Types of Airbnb accidents
Just about any type of accident can and has occurred inside an Airbnb rental. The most common types of accidents stem from:
- Slip and falls
- Collapses of parts of the building
- Exposure to dangerous substances
- Intentional violence, including sexual assault and murder
In the California shooting, a home in Orinda was rented for one night using Airbnb. The woman who rented the home claimed that she was going to use it for a family reunion, but ended up having a house party where more than 100 guests showed up. Unfortunately, gunfire broke out just after 10 pm. Five people were killed and several others injured.
Who’s liable for Airbnb accidents?
As is the case in all states, property owners in Florida owe their guests a duty of care to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe manner and to repair or give notice of any dangerous conditions.
If a guest is injured because of an unsafe condition, the property owner is liable. Unsafe conditions could include:
- Slippery surfaces
- Broken steps
- Defective door locks
- Hazardous substances
In the event that the renter is injured due to a criminal act by a third party (such as in the California shooting), the property could be liable for negligent security if it’s shown that they failed to take reasonable steps to prevent a foreseeable criminal act.
If the individual renting the property to an Airbnb guest is a tenant, they must be sure that the landlord permits subleases. Regardless, the tenant could be held liable for injuries that result from certain dangerous conditions unknown to the property owner.
You’ll notice that we haven’t mentioned Airbnb yet.
This is because, in most cases, Airbnb escapes liability when it comes to injuries that occur on Airbnb-listed properties. With that being said, this area of law is constantly evolving as Airbnb continues to grow and it’s best to speak to an attorney about potential defendants before pursuing damages.
Recovering from property owners
Just because a homeowner is liable for your injuries doesn’t mean you’ll recover any damages.
What if you get a judgment against the homeowner but the homeowner doesn’t have any money?
Unfortunately, while most homeowner’s insurance policies provide coverage for injuries that occur on the premises, they almost always exclude coverage when the property is used as a “business.” If the property is listed regularly on Airbnb, there’s a good chance this exclusion will apply.
Airbnb has responded to this concern by offering Airbnb Host Protection Insurance. This policy provides every host with $1 million dollars in liability coverage “in the event of a third-party claim of bodily injury or property damage.” There are, however, numerous exceptions, including for injuries caused by criminal acts.
If you’re injured in an Airbnb in Florida, we can help.