Virginia Court Discusses the Duty a Vacation Rental Property Owner Owes to Guests

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Virginia premises liability lawsuit discussing the extent of the duty that owners of a vacation rental home owe to their guests. Ultimately, the court concluded that the duty owed by a vacation rental homeowner is the same as the duty a landlord owes a tenant. In so holding, the court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the duty imposed on the defendant should be coextensive with that of an innkeeper.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff’s family rented a property in Virginia Beach that was owned by the defendants. The rental agreement was for one week, which is typical for the vacation rental houses in Virginia Beach. The house came fully furnished, and the property management company provided linens upon check-in.

Evidently, as the plaintiff was carrying a bin of linens into the home, she tripped on the raised transition strip between the carpet and tile flooring. The plaintiff fell to the ground and seriously injured her toe, which required two subsequent surgeries.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the property owners as well as the property management company. The plaintiff claimed that the vacation home was fully furnished and the owners of the home owed her a duty of care identical to that which is owed to a hotel guest. The defendants argued that the only duty they owed to the plaintiff was that which a landlord owes to a tenant, which is a lesser duty than an innkeeper owes to a guest.

The Court’s Opinion

The court agreed with the defendant and dismissed the plaintiff’s case. The court explained that the distinction between the two duties arises from the level of control that the property owner maintains over the location. In a hotel setting, the innkeeper is in continuous control of the property and even remains on site during a guest’s stay. A landlord, on the other hand, relinquishes control over the property to the tenant, who maintains the right of possession under the lease agreement.

Here, the court determined that the defendant’s arrangement to rent their vacation home to the plaintiff’s family was more analogous to a landlord-tenant relationship. The court explained that the defendants were not permitted entry into the home while renters occupied it. Additionally, unlike a hotel room, the vacation home was only cleaned in between stays and required a security deposit from renters.

Have You Been Injured in a Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Attorney Charles B. Roberts is a dedicated Virginia personal injury attorney with decades of experience handling all types of Virginia injury claims. To learn more about how Attorney Roberts can help you recover for the injuries you have sustained, call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation today.

See More Blog Posts:

Virginia Accident Victims and the Importance of Reading All Settlement Agreements Closely, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, October 10, 2018.

Court Discusses Employer Liability in Recent Distracted Driving Case, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, October 18, 2018.