Airbnb and Vrbo (“Vacation Rentals By Owner”) give property owners the opportunity to rent out their units to travelers in our great state of Florida. But while these two companies have policies and requirements for the rental units and hosts, by the very nature of the service, they do not have the level of oversight or control that a hotel would have. While most hosts keep their units safe and in good repair, since they want good reviews and future business, some rentals are disastrous and can cause serious harm to guests.
You have the right to a safe visit while you’re in Florida. Airbnb and Vrbo as well as the individual renters should be held liable if you are injured during your stay due to their negligence.
Major issues in Airbnb and Vrbo
A study of over 127,000 negative reviews on Airbnb found that nearly 8,000 involved unsafe conditions and thousands more involved theft or harassing treatment by the host. These issues included:
- Pest infestation (bugs and vermin)
- Dangerous mold levels
- Unsanitary conditions (trash, drug paraphernalia, bodily fluids, cigarette smoke)
- Serious safety issues
- Dangerous neighborhood
- Bodily assault or injury
- Sexual assault or harassment
- Hostile or intimidating host
- Electrical or fire hazards
- No key or entrance code, no locks on windows
- Undisclosed hidden cameras in private spaces (bathroom, bedroom)
- Theft/ breaking and entering
- Host demanding additional fees in cash upon arrival
- Basic amenities withheld for a cash surcharge
- Host demanding a positive review/ blackmail
- Host hacking guest’s booking and payment information
While most visits are enjoyable, nightmares have occurred: a guest dying when the branch that a rope swing was tied to broke; beds infested with bedbugs; emotionally abusive host; maggots due to a dead animal in the house; front door previously pried open and not closing properly and windows having no locks in an unsafe neighborhood. You have a right to demand a safe and healthy environment when you stay at a rental property.
Airbnb and Vrbo both provide hosts with a $1,000,000 insurance policy to cover serious injury or property damage sustained by guests. The policy applies if the owner is found negligent and liable for the bodily injury of a guest as well as the damage or theft of the guest’s property.
In the case of injury, the guest must prove that the injury was closely related to the use of the property and that the host either knew or should have known about the issue or situation. In such cases, it is critical to have pictures of the environment or situation that caused the incident.
Negligence or liability that leads to a slip and fall may include broken stairs or floors, torn or worn carpets, leaky plumbing or utilities, potholes on the property, and cracks in walkways. Electrocution and burns could be caused by faulty equipment or dangerous wood stove or fire pit arrangements. Bedbugs can cause terrible skin damage as well as the infestation of your own home if just a handful of the nasty critters hitches a ride home in your luggage.
Hidden cameras and physical or sexual assault caused by dangerous situations may involve not only civil lawsuits but criminal lawsuits, as well.
If you’ve been harmed from a stay at an Airbnb or Vrbo unit in Florida, you may be able to receive compensation. As a Florida personal injury lawyer, I am committed to helping Florida residents and visitors receive just and fair compensation to help them cope with the injuries they have sustained through someone else’s negligence. Contact me at (954) 448-7288, 24/7 for a free consultation to see how I can help you.