Liability and Airbnb


When traveling, many people are finding that there is no better way to get accommodations than to use Airbnb. Renters and homeowners can use their property to make some extra money – either to subsidize the rent or to save some extra holiday cash – and vacationers looking to save a buck can use Airbnb to avoid the higher costs of the average hotel room. The hospitality industry may suffer a blow, but ordinary people who can’t afford hotels are able to travel more freely.

Of course, with ease comes certain complications. If you’re injured during your stay, it’s not so straightforward what happens next. When it comes to hotels, your course of action is generally clear: you sue the hotel for damages. But when you suffer injuries at an Airbnb due to another person’s negligence, it’s not always clear who is liable. Below we will touch on some of the concerns surrounding liability in Airbnb-related injuries.

Who Is Liable?

As mentioned, injuries occurring on business premises can generally be attributed to the premises-owner (in this case, the hotel owner). The same principle should apply to Airbnb, shouldn’t it? This is true, except in a lot of cases, the person who rents to you is renting the property on behalf of the homeowner. Thus, after receiving medical treatment for your injuries, you should start by identifying the cause of the injury and determining whether is is the responsibility of the homeowner. You can then contact the person who handled the Airbnb rental to notify them of the event and injury.

If necessary, you can identify the actual owner by checking local records to see whose name is on the title. The homeowner should have insurance coverage to pay for your injuries and related costs.


You may also be able to go after Airbnb, as it is likely to have sufficient insurance or capital to compensate you for your damages.  The trouble here is that this company is careful to cover its bases in its consumer contracts. When you rent a room through Airbnb, you sign a document, waiving your rights to sue the company in court. Instead, you’d have to take your complaint to arbitration, which may favor the company. You may be able to contest the mandatory arbitration clause, but your chances of success are shaky, at best. It’s also worth noting that the company has refused to accept liability in the past. Thus, in the end, you may end up having to go after the homeowner.


Once you get a judgement in your favor, actually obtaining compensation can be a tricky process, as the defendant may not have insurance or the funds to reimburse you for your medical bills (and any other related expenses). It’s possible they have homeowner’s (or renter’s) insurance, but this insurance may not  cover commercial activity. In this case, you may have to seek out assets that the homeowner can liquidate to pay you back. These may include any land or buildings owned by the liable party – excluding their home – or other moveable property, such as vehicles, boats, jewelry or anything else that isn’t rented.


To do this, you have to contact the appropriate agency – this may be the Secretary of State – and file a lien against the property. If another company – such as a mortgage company or bank – has a lien already, you’ll need to subordinate your claim to that entity, as it will have first right to the assets. Once you (or your lawyer) files a lien, the local sheriff will likely set up an auction, at which point the property can be sold and you can recover your damages from a portion of the sale.


It’s important to note that all of this is subject to variation depending on the jurisdiction. So it may be a good idea to seek out the counsel of a skilled attorney who understands the intricacies of pursuing compensation in this way. An attorney can help you determine who is liable and whether or not the liable party has any funds or assets to compensate you. They can also help you navigate the nuances of the local statutes.

Sean Lally About Sean Lally

Sean Lally holds a BA in Philosophy from Temple University where he also studied theatre for several years. Between 2007 and 2017, he worked as a professional actor for several regional theater companies in Philadelphia, including the Arden Theatre Co., EgoPo Productions, Lantern Theater and the Bearded Ladies. In 2010, Sean co-founded Found Theater Company, an avant-garde artist collective with whom he first started to cultivate an identity as a writer.