Are House Renting Services A Safe Alternative?

Recently I wrote a blog article about injuries sustained while staying at hotels. I talked about the many types of injuries that might occur while lodging at these establishments. Such as unsafe parking lots, unmarked curbs, potholes and even poorly lit hallways inside the buildings. I even shared how people staying at these places could get bitten by bedbugs or injured by exercise equipment or come down with an illness caused by swimming in non-chlorinated or non-disinfected pool water. And although that all sounds bad and maybe you should be cautious when you book with a hotel or motel on your next journey … the alternative may not be safer.

You see, many who read my article about “Hotel and Motel Injuries” asked if house rental services like Airbnb, VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner), FlipKey or many of the others advertised on the internet are a safer alternative when traveling. Well, they may seem like it. You have the comforts of a home setting without the negative aspects of staying at a hotel.

However, keep in mind that staying at a house rental service you are trading security for comfort and that may come at a price. You see, the host of the house rental typically doesn’t have a full time or even a part time maintenance person to go around fixing things. Or a housekeeping staff to make sure your bed is made and bathrooms are clean while on your stay. Nor do these house sharing services offer lifeguards for their pools, night security staff to keep you safe and they might not have to undergo regular electrical and fire safety inspections.

And unlike a hotel or motel when using these house sharing services in most cases in their “Terms of Service” that you agree to when using their website … you give up your right to sue if injured. So if you’re a guest staying at a house sharing service and you are injured, could you be estopped from suing those companies for your injuries? If your plan is to turn to the host, the owner of the house you are renting, and initiate a claim what if that may not work?

You might assume that the owner of the house is covered by their homeowner’s insurance and that any injury that occurs on the property would be taken care of … “it ain’t necessarily so”. Did you know that most homeowner’s insurance policies exclude coverage for “business activities” operated out of a home? And, renting your home for a profit is considered a business activity. Yes, insurance companies have a right to know when insuring a property whether you are bringing people (maybe a lot of people) onto the property to make money. It can impact premium rates. It can impact coverage.

That said Airbnb announced recently that as part of using their service they would provide hosts with up to $1 million in liability protection if they get sued by a guest. But is $1 million enough? And what about the other services? As of this writing Airbnb seems to be the only service offering such coverage. But regardless what service you use, it’s always a good idea to confirm that they are covered by insurance.

If you or a loved has been injured at a hotel, motel or on a property that is contracted through a house renting service and that injury occurred in Indiana, pick up the phone and give us call. Our friendly and professional attorneys will listen and consult with you on how to proceed. The number to reach us is +1 (219) 736-9700.

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