11 Giu 2017

The Hotelier's Legal Jinx: Theft, Prescription and Damage.

Three legal institutions that demonstrate the jinx of the hotelier

The truth, as I mentioned in the title, is that the hotelier is legally unlucky.

Today we're going to talk about 3 institutions that back up what I just said.

The first covers the theft of things brought by clients. In this case, our dear guest arrives at the reception desk and reports a theft of objects or valuables in his room.

The objective responsibility of the hotelier is thus configured, a case well defined by art. 1783 of the Civil Code. The law in this case provides for the responsibility of the hotelier in case of "deterioration, destruction or removal of things brought by the customer in the hotel". Therefore, not only the hypothesis of theft, but also that of damages deriving -for example- from a water leak that has damaged the client's property.


In this case we will be obliged to reimburse the damage with a maximum of the equivalent of 100 times the price of the overnight stay paid. Basically, if you have sold the room that night for 80.00 Euros, you will be liable for up to 8,000.00 Euros. In case of fault of the hotelier, the limitation does not operate.

The normative prevision of art. 1784 c.c. is different.

The case is when the client hands us things that we agree to keep and know that, with rare exceptions, we are also obliged to do so. In this second hypothesis, there is no limit to our responsibility (and the value we will have to reimburse).

Let's avoid opening legal brackets too long and perhaps boring and go to the heart of the matter.

The challenge lies in the fact that liability is objective, that is, it is presumed. So, in essence, we will have to compensate the guest for the theft suffered. Do you have a Insurance that covers this risk?

If you don't have it, I recommend that you do, and if you do, I still recommend that you get the contract and study well what risks it covers.

Sometimes it happens that some guests "try": often young people who usually report the theft of banknotes. In these cases my advice is to send them to make a report and then forward the hotel a claim. They almost always give up.

To conclude with the first topic, I remind you that electronic locks (that record access), surveillance cameras and safes in rooms are always good investments for security.

Ah, one last thing: placing the famous "does not take responsibility for things left in the room, etc. etc." notices, remember, it serves absolutely no purpose.

Let's now talk about the institution of the statute of limitations on hotelier claims.

Also in this case the bad luck assists us: for mysterious reasons the credits of the hotelkeeper are prescribed in only 6 months.

So when we send an invoice, when we have a " pending", especially if we don't know the debtor well, before the six months, let's not forget to interrupt the statute of limitations (and have proof of it): thanks to technology today we can do it comfortably with the e-mail (unless they are private and don't have a certified mail address).

The third and final point concerns a recent regulatory change: the decriminalization of the crime of damage.

Pursuing a deflationary purpose, it has been decided to suppress this type of crime - frequent - in hospitality facilities, leaving the criminal case alive only for some very special cases.

In case a nice guest, just for fun or because maybe he returned a little drunk in the room, decides to smash your room know that now the only possibility is an action for civil compensation.

I remind you that, on the contrary, in case you have well thought of doing justice to yourself.....that remains a crime!

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