Never heard of it …
On scams, my sense is to read/search here on the forum, and Google the topic.
On insurance, many here first ask their current insurer (though this can be risky if the insurer offers no solution and then decides to not renew the policy) if they insure (liability coverage is KEY) and then research insurers in their locale. Many here have gone with Proper insurance, but I don’t know if they are worldwide. Many here have noted that Proper is expensive.
Think about insurance in its wider context of risk management. So, buying insurance is a strategy of risk transfer to the insurance company. But you’re not off the hook yet in thinking about your risk situation – and a good insurer won’t let you off the hook though I wouldn’t rely solely on the insurer.
You need to do what you can do to avoid, prevent, lessen the risk occurring. Even if you have insurance, the claim itself – even if successfully defended – might result in an increase in premiums and prevent you from shopping the insurance (many insurers will not insure a property where there has been a claim within x years). So, getting insurance does not end the process of managing your risks.
You don’t want the claim to arise at all. If it does you want to arm your defense team, You want that trial judge or jury to say to themselves “This Host did everything reasonable to do – and beyond – to make sure that their property was safe.”
So, what do you do to aim to prevent the risk from arising? You can look here: Safety Training Program
They offer a certification that for me reduce my Proper premium by 5%.
What were my main takeaways from this certification, my other readings and my participation in a local community emergency preparedness team. This summary is U.S. focused but presumably much carries over.
- Over 80% of claims are 'trips and falls.’
– So, make sure your property, inside and out, is in compliance with the building code (ideally in all respects) but at least as to guard rails.
– Eliminate trip hazards (like garden pots on the walkway)
– Consider uneven floors, rugs without pads underneath, grab bars in bathroom, anti-slip material on shower/bath floor
– Make sure that stairs and evacuation paths are lighted (we have solar motion sensor lights outside as well as wired lights; we have the inside fire evacuation path lighted 24/7 with low-level LEDs).
– In our location the building code requires rails only on stairways where there are three or more steps. We have one area with two steps. I put the guard rails there too. The building code is a minimum in my view, not a ceiling.
2. Fire Extinguishers, First Aid Kits, Smoke and CO Detectors, Evacuation Path and Communication About All These
– We test detection system with every turnover
– Extinguishers should be briefly turned upside down monthly and tapped, ideally inspected monthly
– Ideally smoke/CO system is hardwired, but testing with each turnover is helpful
– House Manual communication about system and prevention (e.g., no combustibles near cooktop, etc.)
3**. Exterior Lighting for Security**
4. Outside Grills at least 3’ away from home/combustible surfaces and with 9’ gap upward from combustible surfaces.
5. Outside security cameras to detect parties and events; perhaps a noise sensor
6. ‘Child-Proofing’ Home if You allow Children (and also if you don’t) – We do not permit children under 12, we explicitly say we have not child-proofed the home, and then we have done everything we could to do the typical things associated with child proofing a home. Make sure hazardous materials/cleaning supplies can be in safety-latched cabinets (you can buy these on Amazon).
7. Information Card – Have in a central place (ours is on a sheet on refrigerator) essential information on home, like its address, bearings, emergency phone numbers, your and co-Host contact information, Hospital name and location, parking information, utility information, location of first aid kits, that kind of thing.
8. Address Marker on Property – To make it easily visible for emergency services to find
This is not an exhaustive list, but a good place to start. Others here will likely have suggestions.
It’s important for YOU to walk around in and outside the property and just THINK – what could happen here? How could an accident take place? Maybe you have a space heater, maybe doors that stick at the top of a stairway, maybe an uneven part of a walkway.
Many years ago in law school I read a case about someone who lacerated their hand on a window-framed door – the kind with many glass panels. It turned out the the door was sticky, had been for a long time. SO this tenant pushed on the door to help open it, but they pushed on the window panel. The window broke and lacerated the hand badly. The question was whether it was a foreseeable risk, and it was.
So that’s the kind of thought process you want to go through. Especially when there’s something ‘not quite right.’ Is it trivial? Or is there a safety aspect here? Stop and think about it. Give it your attention. [In a lawsuit hours of attention will be focused on that thing you didn’t fix. In retrospect it will be OBVIOUS. ‘Why didn’t you do something about it?’ People will ask. You’ll argue this is all 20/20 hindsight, but what it’s really about is attention. Many of us often do not truly give our attention to these safety matters because deep down inside we haven’t experienced it and think it’s kind of BS. That’s the kind of mindset that leads one day to an accident,
There are many little things that could give rise to risk – laundry vents full of lint that catch on fire, extension cords (which say they are for temporary use and yet are used on a permanent basis, a loose electrical connection that arcs). Property maintenance is held to a higher standard when it’s for commercial use.
This is on you ultimately; I think you need to visit the property periodically to make sure that it is safe. I don’t think this is 100% delegable.
Making sure that your property is safe is not a one-time thing and you’re done thing. It’s an ongoing process that never ends. Commit to it. In my view it’s THE most important aspect – duty – of running a short-term rental.
We often discuss insurance in the context of liability and money. But really job 1 for a Host is providing a safe property. It’s about hospitality.
Good luck, hope this helps.
You’d get laughed out of court in Mexico if you tried to sue someone for the fact that you tripped and fell on their property. The judge would ask why it’s someone else’s fault that you weren’t paying attention to where you were walking.
I think you underestimate how absurdly litiginous the US is compared to the rest of the world.
I bet I do! It’s the only experience I’ve had.
So the international reader will need a local lens.
But also a human one. If there are things the Host can do that would lessen the risk of an accident any Host might consider (accept/reject/modify) that regardless of there being a legal consequence where they reside.
My sense is that you and many others here feel that a legal requirement or an Airbnb rule are things we need to comply with but they do not define our personal code of conduct.
Thank you very much @HostAirbnbVRBO , I really appreciate the time you have put into answering me. You wrote some great examples and I’ll look into them and try to think of ways to avoid any accidents.
I also believe these kinds of lawsuits are not going to happen on our side of the pond (Europe), but If I can avoid any accidents by paying attention to safety measures… then why not?
Plus I think there is an unintended benefit. Once you start truly thinking this way you really do develop a safety mindset.
When you articulate it openly, in front of your vendors, cleaners, workers, partners, they start thinking about safety too.
I was helping one day at the property and there was a cord that I could have put out of the way and was going to be there just five minutes. The worker was much younger than me and my first impulse was to leave the cord where it was, thinking (not thinking?) that he’ll see it, no worries.
But I caught myself and took the extra time to put it in such a way that it could not be tripped over. So it’s a helpful mindset to internalize and help your helpers internalize (I don’t know your liability exposure if a worker trips and hurts themselves; here again it’s a problem).