Wed | Jun 19, 2019

Short-term rental exposes property owners to serious liabilities

Published:Thursday | October 18, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Keith Senior (left), consultant, JN Bank; Petal James (second right), head, mortgage sales, JN Bank; and Barbara Clarke (second left), secretary, Realtors Association of Jamaica (RAJ), listen keenly as Rose Bennett-Cooper, chairman of the Rent Assessment Board, makes a point, following the RAJ Symposium 2018 held recently at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston.

Persons who are considering entering the short-term rental market are being cautioned to explore the liabilities associated with operating such establishments in the absence of specific regulations and guidelines.

The point was made recently at the RAJ Symposium 2018, organised by the Realtors Association of Jamaica (RAJ), in partnership with JN Bank. The symposium, held at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston, was focused on the theme: 'The Impact of Airbnb on Real Estate Investments and Tourism.'

Responding to questions during the panel discussion at the symposium, Rose Bennett- Cooper, chairman of the Rent Assessment Board, indicated that there are liabilities that short-term rental and owner-occupied proprietors should consider.

In respect of owners who choose to rent their homes on a short-term basis, the attorney-at-law noted that in the absence of specific regulations to govern the emerging market, there are other laws under which proprietors can be held liable.




"If you are paying me to stay in my place and I don't take the necessary precautions in terms of food and otherwise, then you have certain rights and you can successfully bring action against me for failing to take the necessary steps to ensure there was food safety," she said, citing an example.

Insurance is another area which persons who rent their property on a short-term basis need to consider, Bennett-Cooper stated.

"They need to see whether or not they can engage in conversations with their insurers to see what are some of the things they (the insurers) could direct them to in terms of protection," she said.

Her point was supported by Keith Senior, consultant at JN Bank, who indicated that owners who rent their homes for short-term tenancy could be held liable for injuries sustained to their guests. Financial institutions primarily lend for the purpose of owner-occupied purchases.

"There are inherent risks associated with the business, and you need to insulate yourself, and take those liabilities into consideration," Senior opined.

Speaking from the floor at the symposium, Havannah Llewellyn, the president of the Jamaica Home Sharing Association, said Airbnb provides a US$1-million policy for every booking made via its platform to indemnify its members who may face liability for injuries their guests may sustain.

"What we are doing is trying to get additional insurance for those individuals who book outside of Airbnb and also engage other platforms to do that," he disclosed. He explained that the additional layer of insurance would be provided to protect members of the Home Sharing Association who receive bookings through other platforms that may not provide some form of insurance coverage.