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What are the limits of liability if a rental property owner does not disclose all information about the property with regard to safety as well as egregious falsehoods in the property description? Also, what vetting process is used for short-term renters? There is a property in our vicinity that is advertised on VRBO. Not only are there deliberate and misleading attributes about the property, there is also non-disclosed to the potential rental community that a convicted sexual predator recently moved into the same neighborhood and this person must be checked on monthly by local law enforcement. How much due diligence is required of both the renter and the owner to ensure the safety of the potential renter and those of us who must put up with questionable renters in the neighborhood? We are not trying to cause a problem; we are merely trying to avert one. Thank you for your input.
I don't think any owner is required to reveal the location of any nearby sexual predators. It's possible the owner might not even know about his/her presence.
I may be old fashioned, but I think parents should supervise their kids even more when they are on vacation than they do at home. Never assume a vacation rental is as child-proof as your own home. And no matter how safe an area appears to be, don't let the kids wander around alone. This is common sense; in addition to human predators, there can be snakes or bears or crocodiles or uncapped wells or cliffs or unfenced swimming pools or poison ivy -- and the kids may have not been taught about these dangers because they don't exist at home.
If you think the property description is misleading or false, contact VRBO directly and lodge a complaint. Be prepared to support your claims with photos. And make sure you are 100% correct, because the owner could sue you if you are exaggerating the discrepancies.
Thank you for the informative response. Does anyone in this VRBO community know if this requirement exists? We are unsure - but you are quite correct in that the renter must be far more vigilant and perform more than due diligence in order to cope with a new environment. On the other hand, if one is taking a vacation to relax and get away, we would presume their having done so in order to be in a safe, relaxing environment with less stress and anxiety from the day to day rat race. So the answer about informing potential renters about known potential safety hazards and issues are both gray areas.
From the owner perspective, however, it appears to be far more important to rent the property, discrepancies and all, and charge as much as possible with the protection of a potential lawsuit if someone is not 100% correct about the inaccurate property description. Be that as it may, it is far more important to get the property rented as often as possible - and the protections for the renters take second place to the generation of the all mighty dollar. The owner can sue if the claims are not 100% correct; but the renters assume all risk of safety for their children and the owner has no obligation to inform the potential renter of any potential issues and are of secondary importance to the owner, so long as the money flows.
Might as well be running a brothel...Does anyone know the answer about obligations to protect and inform the renter/customer? We feel that if we were rental owners, our conscience would compel us to educate, inform and warn anyone about any potential dangers. It's what people who care do. God forbid the ca$hflow be jeopardized...
You brought up some great talking points. As an owner of two rental properties (one for long term and one short-term), I would hope owners would be truthful in their advertising. I try to be as truthful as possible in my listings. Even so, I have had someone contact me after a stay to tell me they thought I had lied about how I advertised. Specifically, they thought our yard was bigger. No where in my listing do I say how large or small my yard is (1/2 an acre for the record). I'm not sure why they thought it was bigger? I'm not trying to mislead anyone. I have several photos of the yard and surrounding area.
The recourse for a renter is to sue for false advertising if they feel they are mislead. You could also contact VRBO/HomeAway administration and report the property if you feel it is grossly misrepresented.
I've never had someone ask if a convicted sexual predator lives nearby, nor have I ever asked a potential renter if they are a sexual predator. In fact, I have no idea if any live near any of our rental homes. If someone asked, I could look it up for them, but it's never been asked.
In my state, the only thing legally we need to disclose is lead based paint, past flooding, mold and asbestos. If you want to read about your rights you can check out, http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/FHLaws/yourrights.
For many of us, the homes we rent out are our second homes, and I would rather have the right person in my home than get it rented as often as possible. I am very honest with people about the suitability of our home for their party. What I really wish, is people would be honest with us on how many people are really in their party or that they are bringing animals or that everyone smokes (in my non-smoking home) that causes me to hire extra housecleaners. Many people do not realize that most of us owners do not make a hefty profit. I am happy to break even at the end of the year (which I have yet to do). Our short-term rental is our retirement home and we try our darndest to maintain it. Even as diligent as we are, there is always the possibility we may miss something. Just this last weekend, when my family was at our mountain home, my daughter found a nail in a stair tread (with her foot). I've never seen it sticking up and I sure hope no one else stepped on it.
We try to keep our home as safe as possible and remove any dangers we see, but at the same time, the renter has to take some responsibilty for their own actions. I do warn renters who bring pets (and kids) that we do have bears, fox, and owls, and they shouldn't let either out alone.
Hope this answered your question on what are the responsibilty of owners.
Great response. It falls on the goodness and the honesty of our fellow men and women to be honest and upfront about things. From our persepctive, if there was a known issue of safety that we cannot control - it would be an owner's "rental suicide by honesty" if they did their civic duty and informed potential renters of potential safety hazards. Most are common sense - but the human element is infinite - and when there is an unpredictable criminal problem in the vicinity - do you have a moral obligation to inform the unknowing? That moral obligation question prohibits us from purchasing a rental property. We have stayed in several rental homes and none are as advertised - except for the one we stayed in recently. It was a bit over the top in presentation, was all form with no substance with outlandish overstatements - none of which were singularly fatal, but when taken on the whole, an egregious lie. We would presume the same vetting process for renters, if the moral obligation is applied, would protect neighborhoods with properties for short term vacation rentals. And therein lies the problem that no one can touch. It appears that no one is allowed to approach the issue without breaking some sort of privacy law that affords protections to the ciminals. So - the two-way street exists, no vetting of renters that rent near us and no knowledge for the renter of criminal trouble that exists near the renter...Vigilance on both sides, common sense and hope that the moral imperative is respected.
Did you actually stay at the property that you are complaining about?