Are You Liable for a Vacation Renter’s Illegal Activity on Your Property?

by Joe Killinger
CEO, theRRD.com

I was recently speaking to a host of a vacation rental property and he had several questions about their liability as it pertains to the people they rent their place to. The main one being that if they would rent to a sex offender and the neighbors were to find out what is their liability, or worse yet, what would happen if the renter committed a crime on their property or in their community?. What are the responsibilities of an owner of a property in vetting out a tenant?  Especially in the many states that do not differentiate between the percentage of responsibility vs. the percentage of liability. Common sense would dictate that an owner may be liable for them especially if they rented their home to a criminal or sexual predator and something were to happen; although, after a quick internet search I really couldn’t  find a bunch of cases regarding this issue.

I do believe that having as much information on someone you are renting too is extremely prudent and many of the short term (vacation) rental sites make it all but impossible to run a background check because they do not publish the parties’ full identities in order to prevent the parties from going around their back to make deals out their control.

We as property / home owners that utilize these short term rental sites have a responsibility to our community, friends and neighbors and one bad tenant that creates a lawsuit for you can easily erase months or years of your investment income. In doing some research you will find that more often than not there are no issues with short term renters but if you are unfortunate enough to find one that does it can be a nightmare, a nightmare they may have been found with a simple $30 background check.