Reduce your liability as an Airbnb Host
Please note, this is not legal advice as we are not attorneys. These are suggestions based on our experience as Airbnb Property Managers.
If you are or thinking about renting your property out on Airbnb, then there are several legal issues that you may want to consider before proceeding forward. While Airbnb offers hosts a limited liability policy, they say they cannot be held responsible for the actions of hosts. This leaves hosts in murky water at best. Here are some steps that you may want to consider taking if you are going to be an Airbnb host.
Get an Umbrella Insurance Policy
If you have been an Airbnb host for very long, then you can probably tell some amazing stories about what your guests have tried to do on your property. For example, the company has been sued for a host’s dog mauling a guest in Argentina and a man who was using a tree swing when a dead tree fell on him. Another visitor had a hammock collapse after it was inadvertently put up with hollow two by fours and the chain broke crashing into her mouth causing years of painful dental work.
Start by calling your homeowner’s insurance company to see if you are currently covered if something happens. In many cases, you will not be because money changed hands. Then, ask them if they have additional coverage that you can buy.
Manorshare can help you get connected with insurance agents who understand our business. Contact us today!
The best answer, however, is to buy a commercial umbrella policy as it covers many things that can go wrong. Make sure to read the policy very carefully. There are some policies that will not cover your home if you rent out part of it while you live full-time in another part of it. Additionally, make sure that all your activities are covered. For example, if you have a boat that guests are free to use, then make sure that it is covered or if you have a liquor that guests can indulge in make sure that is covered because you can end up responsible for underage drinking even if you are not present.
Pay for a Safety Inspection
In February 2018, Airbnb started inspecting about 2,000 properties in 13 cities with plans to expand the program over time. These hosts are then eligible to display a banner on their site declaring that the property has been inspected.
Some counties and cities have also started inspecting properties before the owner is allowed to rent them. This helps ensure that the property has met minimum safety standards. Contacting a professional Airbnb property management company can help you locate the specific laws for your area.
At a minimum, pay a local home inspector to come out and do an inspection of your property just like you would likely pay for one if you were buying or selling a property. If you have trouble locating one in your area, then contact a Realtor as they often work with home inspectors on a daily basis.
If there is an association of bed and breakfasts in your area, then consider contacting them as they may have or know of inspectors specifically trained to look at hazards of short-term properties. The local fire department will sometimes do a home inspection for a fee. While they will usually be more interested in spotting fire dangers, it is certainly better than no inspection at all.
Provide Basic Safety Equipment
The types of basic safety equipment that you need to provide will depend on the type of property that you own. For example, if you provide a swimming pool or a hot tub, then you will want to provide a cover and a gate so those little ones cannot wander into the area without anyone paying attention (local laws vary on this, so make sure you are compliant).
Each bedroom should have a working fire alarm. You should also make sure that there is a carbon monoxide detector on each level of the home. Furthermore, there should be several prominently displayed first-aid kits in the home. At a minimum, these kits should contain:
- Absorbent dressings
- Adhesive bandages
- Cloth tape
- Antiseptic wipes
- Space blanket
- Breathing barrier
- Cold compress
- Non-latex gloves
- Hydrocortisone ointment packages
- Roller bandages
- Gauze pads
In addition to a first aid kit, make sure that you have emergency numbers prominently posted in plain sight. Let guests know that they should contact authorities first and then you if something happens.
If you often have babies or young children staying in your property, then you may also want to think about installing childproof locks on your cabinets and drawers. You may even want to take it to the next level so that an alarm sounds when someone opens the door nearest the hot tub or swimming pool without first turning off the alarm. This could be a nice feature in your listing, if a space is safe for small children.
Following these three precautions is only the start of what you need to do to make sure that you and your property is protected if someone decides to sue you. It is always a good idea to talk to an attorney who is familiar with your individual circumstances for further suggestions. As a professional Airbnb property management company we would also be glad to help you understand liability issues better.