What Every Hotelier Should Know About Their Duty and Liability to Guests

With every industry, there are legal duties and liabilities to be wary and aware of:


Duty to accept guests:
A hotelier has a public duty to serve all those who offer themselves as guests of the hotel.
However, there are exceptions to this rule:

  • prospective guest is unable or unwilling to pay
  • person or persons is visibly under the influence
  • person or persons use of the room would violate the law, hotel’s rules, or its maximum capacity
  • hotelier reasonably believes the prospective guest will bring some danger onto the premise
    Duty to provide safe premises:
    Based on common law, a hotelier must provide safe, secure premises for its guests and must
    exercise reasonable care. Hotels can be held liable and sued for being negligent if, from
    inspection, the hotelier knew or should have known about the existence of a problem or
    hazardous situation. Similarly, hoteliers can be held accountable for issues that are not readily
    apparent. Meaning, hoteliers have an affirmative duty to inspect and seek out hazards on their
    property. If the hoteliers knew about the issues and did not warn guests, they can be sued and
    held liable for any resulting harm or damage.


Duty to provide safe premises:

Based on common law, a hotelier must provide safe, secure premises for its guests and must
exercise reasonable care. Hotels can be held liable and sued for being negligent if, from
inspection, the hotelier knew or should have known about the existence of a problem or
hazardous situation. Similarly, hoteliers can be held accountable for issues that are not readily
apparent. Meaning, hoteliers have an affirmative duty to inspect and seek out hazards on their
property. If the hoteliers knew about the issues and did not warn guests, they can be sued and
held liable for any resulting harm or damage.


Responsibility for personal property:

Each hotelier, to avoid liability, must exempt or limit their liability for loss or damage to
valuables. Commonly, this is accomplished by conspicuous signs stating valuables above a
certain amount must be placed into the safe provided by the hotelier. The hotelier is not liable for
loss or damage to guest’s luggage/personal items or items are lost in any place besides the room,
so long as it is not the fault of the hotelier or its employees.


Damage caused by guests:

Since hotels have the affirmative duty to exercise reasonable care, hoteliers must evict drunk or
dangerous guests. However, before hotels evict the guests, hoteliers must determine if it causes
more damage and danger to other guests to evict a disorderly guest. In such a case, the hotelier
should contact police services. Since the hotel is required to provide a safe premise, any danger
or hazardous situation resulting in harm for a guest from another guest can result in personal
injury liabilities. To avoid such liability, hoteliers should ask themselves:

  • Was the injury or harm foreseeable?
  • Was it preventable?
  • Is there a previous history of crime at the hotel?
  • Was the security of the hotel adequate? 
  • Was the security personnel informed of the danger?

With every industry, employees and owners should keep in mind their legal duties and potential
liabilities. These are just a few of the obligations and liabilities a hotelier should be aware of and
take precautions. Stay tuned for additional legal tips for hotel owners and staff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *