In less than 10 years, Airbnb has become a $50 billion company with more than two million listings in over 200 countries across the globe. The cost-efficient alternative to booking a hotel room in a major city is attractive to travelers and to homeowners trying to support their income. With the business model becoming so successful so quickly, there is an ongoing concern about safety and possible injuries for consumers in the rented out dwellings. Now, a pair of New York state senators are looking for legislation to be passed to put a stop to the potentially hazardous situations.
A recent report issued by the Independent Democratic Conference showed an alarming amount of violations in available rental spaces posted on Airbnb for 13 or more people. That number of people in itself is a direct violation of city and state housing codes. Air mattresses and bunk beds were discovered on any available space on the floor, leading to dangerous overcrowding and a fire hazard. The senators looking to make legal changes say these rooms are, “rentals of doom” which, “offered dangerous accommodations.” Almost half of the questionable rentals in the NYC study were located in Brooklyn, with 39% in Manhattan and 14% in Queens.
Airbnb says it monitors its site for rental listings that do not meet safety standards and has removed 3,000 of them in New York along for that reason. The company plans to file a lawsuit if the governor signs legislation prohibiting the advertising of illegal housing units to rent. Airbnb has already brought legal action against the cities of San Francisco, Anaheim and Santa Monica for what the company feels are unlawful regulations aimed at them. Since rental space through Airbnb is not considered a hotel, they are not covered by the same health and safety regulations hotels must adhere to.
If you are looking to book a place to stay on Airbnb, here are some tips to remember:
- Do your research in terms of reviews, references, verification, photos, cancellation policy, what amenities are included and what you will need to bring with you.
- Make sure the place where you will be staying is equipped with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
- If you are traveling with children, be sure to inquire about potential safety hazards that could cause an injury to your child.
- Know your surrounding area ahead of time including hospitals, transportation hubs, and major roadways and landmarks. Inform family and friends where you will staying.
- Always communicate and send payment through the Airbnb website.
Lawmakers continue to navigate the waters over-regulation and responsibility regarding safety concerns and injuries at homes rented out through Airbnb. Until there are concrete laws on the books, it is important to remember that property owners are still responsible for safely maintaining their premises and an accident may occur due to their negligence. If you have been injured while staying at someone else’s home, including through an Airbnb reservation, you need a lawyer who will hold the responsible party culpable for your injuries. Please contact the experienced and skilled attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., today.