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Lawyer Blog: Baltimore, MD

What Do Airbnb Deaths Say About Safety and Accountability?


Many people book rooms in private homes or entire properties using the Airbnb website, or similar online rental sites, as an often more convenient or affordable option to staying in traditional hotels. But who should be held accountable if a person is injured or killed because of unsafe conditions or even violence at an Airbnb property?

Several recent deaths of travelers have put the spotlight on culpability when things go wrong at Airbnb and other such lodgings. USA Today reported the cases of a woman who was murdered in Costa Rica and a couple and family of four who died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning in rentals in Mexico. While a hotel is typically liable if people are injured on the property because of unsafe conditions, in this relatively new private-home rental environment, liability is not so clear and might be shared among the property owner and Airbnb. Liability becomes even murkier if, for example, someone leases a home and rents out rooms to travelers and a traveler is injured. The actual property owner may say that they were not aware that the person leasing their property was using it as an Airbnb; and perhaps they were not, but they may still be liable depending upon the circumstances.

Homeowners and Renters Insurance Claims

Homeowners insurance generally covers people who are invited guests to someone’s home if they are injured. However, when a private home is being used commercially, this is often not the case. Some insurance providers are beginning to specifically stipulate in their policies that they will not cover claims from homeowner who use their properties as an Airbnb. For this reason, Airbnb is now offering an insurance policy to homeowners who list on its site.

The same goes for renters insurance in the case when a renter is subleasing rooms as an Airbnb. Most renters insurance would not cover a claim if someone is injured when a home is being used for business purposes.

Injury or Death through Violence

It may seem obvious that if someone is murdered or injured because of a violent act on an Airbnb property, the perpetrator of the crime is liable. There may also be additional liability involved, though. What if the property owner didn’t have strong enough locks on doors or didn’t put adequate safety features in place to help ensure the safety of travelers, especially if the property is in an area known to have crime issues? The property owner could potentially share some blame. The same goes for Airbnb itself and other online rental sites. Depending on the circumstances, it might be argued that the online site did not properly vet the property, crime in the area, the hosts and even other travelers.

You can see that liability surrounding Airbnb rentals can be murky, so it is important to speak to a qualified attorney if you’ve been injured because of unsafe conditions or violence at a vacation rental. An experienced personal injury attorney can help review all the facts surrounding the incident and help you get the compensation you deserve.

We Are Here for You

If you or someone you love was the victim of an injury due to unsafe conditions or the negligent or violent actions of another person, Steve Heisler may be able to help. Call us today at 410-625-4878 for a free initial consultation, or use our convenient and confidential form.