Staying at an Airbnb? Read this first!

Staying at an Airbnb? Read this first!

{3:45 minutes to read} Recently a guest of an Airbnb in upstate New York contacted my office. Airbnb is on online bed & breakfast listing service.

The caller had just arrived at the house and he slipped on the icy driveway. It hadn’t been plowed, salted or sanded, even though it had snowed heavily two days earlier. Unfortunately, he fell and broke his shoulder. Instead of a relaxing weekend in the country, he spent a day in the emergency room, and the next month in pain, with his arm in a cast.

He called me to see what legal rights he had against Airbnb or his host. In order to determine if an injured Airbnb guest has a case, there are a number of issues that must be addressed.

You could try to sue Airbnb, but Airbnb claims to be simply a listing agent, and denies liability to Airbnb users.

Was the house owned by the person who rented it to you? If so, you might be able to bring a direct case against the owner. Generally, the law requires homeowners to keep their property in a safe condition.

However, most home insurance policies do not cover “for profit use” – that is when the home is used for business purposes, not just as a residence. That would leave the injured party trying to make a claim against the owner directly. The big question is whether the owner has sufficient funds to defend a lawsuit, pay the injured party’s medical bills and compensation for pain and suffering.

If the person renting the space to you is the property tenant themselves, it may be a violation of their lease to have paying guests. Therefore, you may have no legal claim against the property owner. The owner would argue that it had no knowledge of the rental, that the tenant violated the lease and would refer the guest’s claims back to the tenant. It is most unlikely that any homeowner’s liability insurance would be available in that situation.

Airbnb Host Protection Insurance is a recently introduced insurance program which covers Airbnb hosts when their guests bring legal claims for on-property injuries. It is a separate layer of coverage and is supposed to apply, even if hosts violate local ordinances or their leases by renting in the first place. Whether or not an injured guest will receive adequate compensation for their injuries under this plan remains to be seen.

Bottom line: Whether an injured Airbnb guest can receive fair compensation for injuries suffered in an Airbnb-listed property is still uncertain. If you’re using Airbnb check with your host to make sure there’s adequate insurance coverage, so you can enjoy your stay worry free. If the worst should happen and you are injured as a guest, call the Katter Law Firm at 212-809-4293. We’ll be happy to answer your questions.


Ron Katter
Katter Law Firm
Phone: 844-WAS-HURT
Alt Phone: 212-809-4293

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