Liability in an Outer Banks Vacation Rental

As the summer vacation season approaches, thoughts turn to time with family and friends and the beach, lake, and/or mountains. Unfortunately, vacations are sometimes marred by injuries suffered in vacation rental cottages. In light of the huge number of people who enjoy vacations in the Outer Banks region, injuries due to maintenance deficiencies in cottages are very small.

Due to our location, we are often contacted by people who have suffered injuries due to failures of decks, stairways, pool security, etc. Several years ago, the North Carolina legislature passed the NC Vacation Rental Act to protect consumers. The act requires reasonably habitable accommodations as well as accounting and contractual protections.

Under the Act, any vacation property that will be rented for less than 90 days must include the following conditions:

  • The renters’ rights and obligations as a tenant, including how much rent they will pay.
  • The rights and obligations of the landlord and/or real estate broker handling the rental agreement.
  • The amount of security deposit the renter is required to pay and how that deposit will be held.
  • Any additional fees that are required to rent the property.

The Act offers protection for renters under certain conditions. For example, if during the renter’s stay, there is a mandatory evacuation (i.e., severe weather conditions), then the landlord must refund the money they received from the renter. All funds collected, such as the rent and deposits, must be kept in a bank account separate from the landlord’s personal account and the bank address must be included in the agreement.

Property Owners Responsibility

When a property owner makes the decision to rent their property as a vacation property, they must adhere to all applicable housing codes. They are responsible for keeping up maintenance of the property, as well as making sure all necessary repairs in order to keep the property safe and hazard-free are done. Some of the items that the property owner should consistently maintain include:

  • Appliances
  • Electrical system
  • HVAC system
  • Plumbing
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Structural (i.e. stairs, decks, walkways, etc.)

If there is a real estate broker who is overseeing the rental, then they, too, share responsibility for keeping the property safe. They are responsible for notifying the property owner of any repairs that are needed, as well as making sure those repairs are addressed.

If a renter is injured due to the failure of the landlord to keep the vacation property safe, then under North Carolina’s premises liability law, the injured renter may be able to pursue a claim or lawsuit for damages.

The law states that all property owners have a duty to keep their property safe for any lawful visitors who come onto the property. If there is some type of hazard, then the owner is required to let the visitor/renter know. Some of the damages an injured renter can claim include:

  • All medical expenses
  • Lost wages from being unable to work while recovering from injuries
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish
  • Permanent disability
  • Scarring and/or disfigurement

Call Our Personal Injury Law Firm for Legal Assistance

If you’re injured while on vacation, it’s essential to take immediate action to protect your rights and seek compensation for your injuries. You may be entitled to financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, scarring, and more.

Contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our seasoned Outer Banks premises liability lawyers and learn your legal options.