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Renting out your Manhattan co-op via VRBO or AirBnB – here’s what you need to know

July 11, 2016

NEW New York City Fashion ModelWhat happens if you rent out your Manhattan co-op on a site like Airbnb or VRBO and one of your guests gets hurt?
Who’s liable?  The short answer is: You are. Of course there are some exceptions, like if your guest gets hurt practicing back flips in the living room during their stay. In that circumstance you may have a case (but maybe you should rethink your screening process?). However, if a guest should twist their ankle on the front stoop, it’s on you. In fact, barring any gross negligence on the part of your guest (such as back flips), in most cases you as well as the landlord and or owner (should you not be those) will be held responsible for injuries to your guests.

Accidents will happen.  As a responsible host you can do your best to prevent them, but if they do occur you must have adequate and appropriate liability coverage to deal with them:

Vacation Rental Liability Coverage

Counting on your homeowner’s policy to cover an injury? Don’t. Your basic homeowners insurance does not cover vacation rental business activities, meaning it doesn’t cover people who pay to stay there or damages that occur when they do. Injuries sustained by your guests as well as damages caused to the property on the part of your guests are not covered without dedicated vacation or short term rental coverage.

Platforms like Airbnb and VRBO make insurance coverage available for hosts who rent out their property.  The policies offered typically cover guest injuries and damages. There are coverage exceptions with any policy so be sure to examine closely what a particular policy will and will not cover. You can take a look at Airbnb as an example.  It’s also a good idea to talk to your current insurance provider regarding the possibility of supplementing your homeowner’s policy.  In the growing age of online short term rentals, even if they can’t supplement your policy, I’m sure they have answers to many of your questions and can help you to get the right coverage.

Accident Prevention

Adequate liability coverage is a must have, and your goal is to avoid using it. As a vacation rental host there are many things you can do to provide the safest experience possible for your guest. Here are a few basics:

  • Ensure that your rental space is structurally and electrically sound. Have a licensed professional perform a building inspection if need be. The cost of an inspection is worth avoiding the headaches of navigating a claim in the future.
  • People can and will slip, trip and fall on just about anything so check and correct any potential trip hazards in your space. You can’t prevent clumsiness but you can minimize the potential for an accident.
  • Make sure you have a written copy of house rules available to every guest. You should also have all emergency contact numbers written out and supplied to your guests as well (Who do I call if the water heater springs a leak?).

A more exhaustive list of preventative measures and good hosting practices can be found on both the Airbnb and VRBO websites.  It pays to take the time to browse the information.

Short term rental platforms online are a great development, and they’ve made it extremely easy to list your properties to generate a significant rental income stream. The key before jumping in is to do your research and be prepared. Make sure to check out short term rental laws in your area first.  Some locales require permits and licensing and may even require you to collect and remit certain taxes, so get legal. Ensure that your rental space is safe for your guests and set them up to handle emergencies. And most importantly, get adequate and appropriate liability coverage…so then you can rent to the Flying Franzini Brothers with total peace of mind.

Linda Robertson

Linda Robertson
Platinum Accounts Executive



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