The peer-to-peer business model has exploded in popularity in recent years. From Uber to peer grocery delivery service, the concept has taken hold in nearly every industry. This also includes the hospitality industry, as companies like Airbnb offer comfortable lodging at affordable prices.
A little more confusing, however, are issues of liability concerning peer-to-peer services. If you sustain an injury at a hotel, for example, it stands to reason that the hotel might be responsible. Who, however, is liable for your injuries at an Airbnb? Is it the person who provided the room, or the company itself? It’s helpful to know your legal options and when to contact an attorney.
The Airbnb Model
Airbnb is an intermediary that allows regular people to provide hospitality services. They currently have home sharing capabilities in 190 countries spanning thousands of cities across the globe. Since there are very few overhead costs, guests can usually find rooms at far lower prices than local hotels.
On the other hand, keep in mind that the adage “you get what you pay for” exists for a reason. Though you get photos of a room before signing the agreement and offering payment, you have no way of knowing how a room will measure up in real life. For example, you may have to take a rickety staircase to your room – what happens if it collapses and you fall? What if an old bookshelf comes crashing down on your spouse? Who is responsible?
Determining Liability in a Home Share
Liability in an Airbnb accident is a little less clear cut than in a hotel. Let’s say that you or a loved one incurred an injury due to a defective or dangerous condition on someone else’s property. Shouldn’t the property owner be responsible?
While your first line of defense will be filing a claim against your host’s homeowners’ insurance policy, some policies have a clause that states they will not cover claims when people are using their homes for a profit. An Airbnb host has an obligation to inform their homeowners insurance company that they’re renting out their homes and should sign up for additional coverage, but there is no way to determine if they did.
What happens if someone rents their home or apartment? It’s highly unlikely that their renters’ insurance will cover any damages, and the landlord can avoid liability if they can show that the tenant violated their lease by renting to a third party.
Lastly, an injured person might think that Airbnb themselves might be liable. Unfortunately, these companies are good at shielding themselves from claims. Airbnb specifically states that the company is not liable for any injuries or damages in its terms of service agreement.
If you are injured in an Airbnb accident, you shouldn’t have to just grin and bear it. The peer-to-peer model is relatively new, and recent litigation with Uber shows that these companies can be liable for injury in certain cases. If you were seriously hurt while using an Airbnb, talk to an attorney about your options.