Over the past several years, Airbnb has become incredibly popular. 25 percent of leisure travelers expected to book at least one stay via Airbnb in 2017, an increase from 19 percent in 2016, according to a report from Morgan Stanley Research. Currently, Airbnb has over 4 million listings in more than 191 countries around the world.
There is no question that Airbnb is a great way for people to travel on a budget — or for others to earn extra cash by renting out their homes to travelers. The way it works is relatively simple: users can create an Airbnb account, and then list all or part of their home for rent. Other users can search for Airbnb rentals available in particular locales, which are often far less expensive than hotel rooms and provide more amenities, such as the ability to rent an entire house.
While the Airbnb model might seem an ideal way to take advantage of the sharing economy, there are some significant downsides — particularly if you are injured. As an experienced Philadelphia slip and fall accident attorney can explain, recovering if you are hurt while at staying at a vacation rental such as Airbnb can be complex.
How Philadelphia Regulates Airbnb Rentals
In Philadelphia, as in many cities, the subject of Airbnb rentals was politically challenging. Many locals loved the idea of being able to rent out their homes, and the increased tourism that would come from people being able to stay in the city for less money through Airbnb. But the hotel industry was opposed to the prospect of Airbnb taking its share of lodging in the city, and many residents did not like the idea of short term, unregulated rentals in their neighborhoods.
In 2015, Philadelphia enacted regulations designed to address these concerns. Under its Limited Lodging rules, residents can rent their home or a room for no more than 30 consecutive days for any visitor, for up to 180 days in a calendar year. The regulations require that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors be installed. Hosts must obtain permits if they rent their homes or rooms for more than 90 days per year, and all hosts must pay a 8.5 percent tax on revenue received. These regulations aim to ensure that rentals such as Airbnb are safe and that they do not infringe on neighbors — but they do not ensure that the properties themselves are well-maintained.
The Airbnb Business Model
Like Uber or Lyft, Airbnb functions like an intermediary between people with spaces to rent and users who want to rent a place to stay. By building up a large network of hosts with lodging to offer, Airbnb is able to attract customers looking to travel near and far. As of this writing, there were over 2,000 Airbnb rentals available in Philadelphia.
Users are typically able to get great deals because the hosts do not have a lot of overhead. They generally only need to offer their homes, along with a few basics, such as sheets and towels. This means that the rates offered by the site are usually far lower than those of nearby hotels.
However, unlike hotels, there may be some issues with quality when it comes to Airbnb rentals. When users peruse listings, they are largely relying on pictures and others’ reviews of the rental. There is no real way of knowing if a vacation rental that looks great on the website is as good as it seems. For example, a rustic cabin in the woods may seem picturesque — but the railings on the outside steps may be wobbly and the steps themselves might be uneven.
When you stay at a hotel, liability is clear when you get hurt. If you fall at a hotel, Philadelphia slip and fall accident attorney can help you recover directly from the hotel itself. However, if you are injured at an Airbnb property, liability might be a bit more complex. Your lawyer might need to make a claim against Airbnb, the homeowner, or potentially even the landlord who rented the property to the Airbnb host.
Who Is Liable If You Are Injured in an Airbnb Slip and Fall Accident?
If you are injured at a vacation rentail home, you do have some protection. First, Airbnb provides host protection insurance of up to $1,000,000 for all of its hosts. This insurance applies first, so if you are hurt while staying at an Airbnb rental and cannot come to a resolution with your Airbnb host, the host protection insurance will likely cover your injuries and other damages.
However, this insurance may not be sufficient to cover your losses — or your specific claim may be excluded from coverage. If you have significant damages, such as from a traumatic brain injury or any accident that results in a hospitalization or surgery, a $1 million limit could be quickly exhausted. In this case, determining who is responsible may be a bit more challenging.
Most people carry homeowners’ insurance on their property that will provide coverage for injuries suffered by third parties. Unfortunately, many policies specifically state that they will not cover homeowners if they are using their home for profit, such as by renting it out. If a homeowner has not informed his or her insurance company that they are renting out their home on Airbnb, it could present significant problems when it comes to recovering damages.
Another complication may arise if the host does not actually own the home — an increasingly common practice as more people are attempting to earn money from Airbnb and other apps. In these cases, renters’ insurance will not likely cover the liability from an accident to a third party who was renting it. Similarly, unless the tenant informed the landlord that he or she was going to rent out the space to guests, other property insurance may not cover the loss.
As you can see, recovering when you are hurt at a vacation rentail home can be tricky, especially if you suffer a more serious injury. That is why you should always consult with a Philadelphia slip and fall accident attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and your options.
Contact a Philadelphia Slip and Fall Attorney Today
At Solnick & Associates, our team of experienced attorneys work hard to help our clients get the compensation that they deserve for their injuries. Whether you have been injured at a vacation rental or slipped and fallen anywhere else, we can help. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with a Philadelphia slip and fall accident attorney.