Frisco, TX asked in Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for Texas

Q: Am I liable for property a guest left behind at checkout?

A vrbo guest left a travel breast pump filled with milk in the fridge at check out. The housekeeper did not know the container was a pump and threw it away when cleaning the house. Now the guest is demanding reimbursement for the pump he left in the fridge.

The property is in arkansas.

1 Lawyer Answer
John Michael Frick
John Michael Frick
  • Frisco, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: Vrbo’s T&Cs do not contain any provisions addressing personal property left behind by guests and instead defers to the terms of the rental agreement between the host and guest with the caveat that any such terms must be included in the host’s online listing for the property.

It is common in rental agreements, both short and long term, for there to be specific language treating personal property left behind by renters after the end of the lease term as abandoned property and authorizing the landlord (aka host) to discard such property.

In the absence of any terms in your online rental agreement addressing your guests’ personal property, it is likely that, at the very least, a gratuitous bailment was created obligating you as the Bailee not to be grossly negligent in caring for property left behind.

A landlord (aka host) would then be obliged to inventory (and, I highly recommend, to photograph) any personal property left behind and then notify the renter giving the renter a reasonable time (I recommend 30 days) to reclaim the property.

Deliberately discarding valuable property like a breast pump probably violates your legal obligations as a Bailee. Your own short term rental insurance policy probably covers the loss, but the total loss may be less than your deductible.

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