4 Carbon Monoxide Deaths = 4 Liability Lessons

Posted June 15, 2011 in Uncategorized by Arthur Buono

A heating subcontractor and a former building inspector will face trial for criminal negligence in the asphyxiation deaths of a vacationing family. A married couple and their two kids died of carbon monoxide poisoning in an Aspen, Colorado vacation rental. It’s easy to find four legal lessons in this tragedy.

  • Tradesman and building inspector charged with negligent homicide
  • People tend to relax on vacation, when vigilance may be needed
  • Property owners must keep their rentals safe and sound
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Deadly Hazards Are Not Mere Inconveniences

Lesson one: don’t take your personal safety for granted on vacation. Is it practical to bring a carbon monoxide detector with you when staying in a rented home? I don’t know. Clearly there’s no fault on the family’s part for not doing so, but what dangers are lurking in a vacation rental that you might be able to uncover and avoid?

Lesson two: If you’re renting your property, whether to resident tenants or transient vacationers, conduct regular safety inspections of it. Make sure it conforms to the all the regulations applicable to lodging of that sort. Make sure your license or approval to lease it is valid. And carry lots and lots of liability insurance.

Lesson three: neglect of responsibilities you have as a landlord or a businessperson may cost you more than money. You could end up in jail for a reckless failure to do what the law requires. No amount of insurance can prevent that.

Lesson four: if it’s worth the rental income, it’s worth having a lawyer and an insurance pro explain your rights, responsibilities, and exposure as a lessor. You’re declaring the rent as income for tax purposes, am I correct? So you can deduct those fees as an ordinary and necessary business expense. Don’t cheap out.

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