What began as a small business venture in San Francisco in 2008 disrupted the entire hotel industry to the tune of at least $38 billion. Airbnb has 151 million users and operates in 80,000 cities in 191 countries. They advertise more than 10 million global listings, which is more than the top five hotel brands combined. The “air” in Airbnb came as a result of Founder Brian Chesky and his roommates renting out an air mattress on their living room floor. With so many millions of people staying in so many different Airbnb properties around the world, it was inevitable that accidents would happen.
Despite the fact that 83 percent of Airbnb users report having a “favorable” experience, life happens. Here are just a few of the things that can go wrong from the host’s perspective:
- Bad Behavior
Some Airbnb hosts report their properties became the site for illicit behavior, such as prostitution, drugs, adult filmmaking, and raucous parties including raves, bachelor blowouts and orgies.
- Wearing Out Their Welcome
Some guests squat. Evicting short-term tenants who morph into permanent houseguests is more difficult than what most would expect.
- Mysterious Bad Reviews
A negative review can result in the loss of future potential rental income. So, less than favorable testimonials are problematic. This is even more problematic when the reviewer never stayed in the place they have reviewed.
- Property Damage
One Airbnb host says that a guest set fire to her house. What’s worse, the tenant who started the blaze failed to call the fire department, opting instead to phone Airbnb customer service about the event. So, firefighters arrived on scene too late to put out the blaze. The property was a total loss. Other hosts report horrifying acts of vandalism.
Hosts often field inquiries from scammers posing as guests, asking if they can pay on arrival rather than through the app or website. Another common scam occurs when thieves book a property with the sole intention of robbing the owner blind.
What if something goes wrong if you’re the Airbnb guest?
Fraud is not directed just to property owners. Airbnb guests report nefarious activity they have faced in attempts to reserve properties as well as while they were on site. Fraudsters advertise phony listings, write fake reviews, and, when necessary, intimidate guests in an effort to steal. Some groups fake addresses to list inferior properties, use stock photos instead of taking actual property pics, and ghost guests who inquire about refunds. Airbnb’s policy states clearly that they have the “final say in all disputes.”
Any physical injury to a person, mild or severe, which happens while you are staying in (or visiting someone else who is in) an Airbnb listing. Typically, bodily injury claims are filed by guests against hosts or landlords. Injuries which could occur include scrapes, bumps, bruises, broken bones, sprains, or concussions. You may have incurred these from a slip-and-fall accident, building defect or collapse of any section of the property while at an Airbnb location. But you could potentially incur other injuries resulting from your stay such as illness, disease or even death. For example, if the homeowner fails to provide clean bedding, you could get bedbugs which might infect your possessions and other people in your family when you return home.
- Stolen Property or Property Damage
Previous guests complain about the theft of their personal property including electronics, jewelry and cash. Others report the loss of other items such as clothing and say they were unjustly accused of theft while renting property. One irate guest vented, “How the heck would I have taken a large peacock statue from your property back on the plane back to Phoenix?”
Premises Liability Law
Most of the above claims fall under premises liability law, which is a division of personal injury law. Premises liability law asserts that property owners have a duty to lawful guests on their property to remove hazards which could otherwise result in injury. Under the law, Airbnb guests are considered “invitees,” which gives them a high degree of legal protection.
Of course, the owner is not responsible for all injuries occurring on a property. He or she must have either created or knowingly allowed a hazard to exist without resolving it to be proven liable. Property damage in an Airbnb rental comes in many forms. A guest may damage the building itself, or to objects within the building. An owner’s negligence could create a hazard that leads to a fire (such as lack of working smoke detectors). A guest could also sue for damaged or destroyed property (luggage and contents).
Whether you are a host or guest of an Airbnb property, you may be entitled to damages. We recommend contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer instead of before taking your claim to Airbnb. We will make sure your best interests remain at the forefront. And we work on a contingency basis, so if you don’t get paid, neither do we.
About Moet Law in Irvine and Ontario, California
Moet Law has an experienced team of personal injury lawyers that are available to best advise anyone on compensation due to them if they or their loved ones were involved in a an Airbnb accident. Call today to find out if you have a case (866) 424-0789.