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aieechihuahua

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I know some of you will see this on the PAII forum, but I value the opinions here so I have posted in both places.
One of our friends had a fire caused by a guest's neglect at her B&B two weeks ago. No one was hurt. The guest had brought her own candle and a tin tray to set it on. The inn policy was no candles except in glass containers. This guest put the candle on her nightstand, lit it and the went outside to be with her friends. A little while later someone outside heard the smoke alarm, someone else, (a guests who was a multi-repeat guest and had organized the weekend), said "who lit a candle?" They all ran in and managed to put the fire out with the fire extinguisher, and then called to tell the owner to come over. This was a free standing two bedroom cabin with living room, two baths and a kitchen. a few hundred yards from the main house. The woman who started the fire with her unattended candle was profusely apologetic. She was also the one sharing that now burnt bedroom with the repeat guests, who was totally disgusted with her friend.
The owner got the two women situated in a new room for the night. Breakfast the next morning was "strained" to say the least.
Even though the inn has good insurance, she has a very high deductable, so the innkeeper is looking at at least $5,000 in damages out of pocket.
My question to you all is, based on what I have told you, because I don't know a whole lot more - do you think this guest has any liability in this?
 

JBloggs

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I must have missed what sort of damage was done? Guests should be held accountable for damages.
 

birdwatcher

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I agree, if there is a strickt policy that there will be no candle burning, and the place burned down or part of it, the guest is responsible for the damage.
 

aieechihuahua

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I must have missed what sort of damage was done? Guests should be held accountable for damages..
I didn't say what the damages were. Didn't think it mattered, but here goes. Total loss on wooden bed, mattress, boxspring, bedding, pillows, night tables, dresser, carpet and padding, clocks, fans, lamps and smoke damage on all. Basically - look into one of your rooms and think of replacing everything including stripping/washing/painting walls, ceiling and doors. And her place was quite classy. She's definately got style.
 

Copperhead

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I would say that either the guest themselves or the repeat guest that had gotten the group together should have some liability for these damages. This is something your friend needs to discuss pronto with her insurance carrier and an attorney for knowledge as to how to handle (each state may vary in their laws governing this). Another issue comes to mind: How this policy is shared to the guests A) in the confirmation, B) sign in card C) posted in room
Does she/he have an estimate of the cost of the damage? She/He must also take into account of loss of income until it is repaired as well as her/his time assisting other guests finding alternative lodging until it is repaired. If the person does not take responsibility for the damage, they may need to take them to court. This also should be discussed with their ins. carrier as some will handle this matter.
I am so sorry for your friend to have to deal with this. People are just so inconsiderate of other people's property!
Once I came into clean a room and found little tealite candles all over the room and bathroom (the little ones with in the tin 'cup'). They had been used - but that goodness no damage. I through them all in the garbage and removed the remaining open bag of candles. When they came down to ask where their candles were.. I said they would be returned on check out and reminded them of the no candle policy. They thought these were SAFE because of the little tin cup. Idiots! And these people walk among us!
 

MooseTrax

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I'd say the guest should be finding out what their own homeowners insurance will cover because I'd be charging them. She knew the policy, she broke the policy, she started a fire and the building (or room) was damaged by either the fire or the putting out of the fire or both. The innkeeper is out revenue while the building is set to rights again. Other booked guests are out their vacation at that particular place. The list goes on.
 

swirt

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I guess the question that keeps coming to my mind is, do you really need a policy on this? The guest brought in something that was not offered at the inn and though their neglegence, damaged the inn. They are responsible.
If the person used a candle in glass and it started a fire (still possible...just less likely) would they be completely off the hook because they followed policy? If they accidentally drove there car through the cabin would they be off the hook because their is no policy against cars in cabins?
 

Samster

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My first thought was that they were incredibly lucky that no one was injured. Of course the guest should be liable for these damages. They were caused solely at the fault of the guest, not through any negligence or fault of the B&B owner.
How awful for this innkeeper to have to deal with this!
 

Breakfast Diva

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Even if she had followed the guidelines set by the owner, she was negligent by leaving the room unattended. I would think the guest was solely responsible, and not the one who organized them. That seems to be common sense, but we all know that the law and common sense don't always agree!
I'm so sorry for the trauma and financial burden this puts on your friend. It's something that could happen to any of us, whether we have a candle policy or not. People don't always follow policy as we well know.
 

Tony

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So what ended up happing with your friend?
 

MooseTrax

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I guess the question that keeps coming to my mind is, do you really need a policy on this? The guest brought in something that was not offered at the inn and though their neglegence, damaged the inn. They are responsible.
If the person used a candle in glass and it started a fire (still possible...just less likely) would they be completely off the hook because they followed policy? If they accidentally drove there car through the cabin would they be off the hook because their is no policy against cars in cabins?.
We had that same conversation last night. There is no way to have a policy that covers every eventuality so at some point you have to call it common sense. We have a faux Picasso painting with a knife slice in it. (We keep it for hilarity's sake.) We wondered if we should enact a policy that states 'No slicing the artwork with a hunting knife.'
 

EmptyNest

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Absolutely! It was the guest who caused the whole problem. Is that Candle policy in writing and did that guest sign off on that policy??? IF yes, then indeed she should compensate the innkeeper.
 

seashanty

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wow. legal advice needed on this one.
odd that candles in glass are allowed. i've had them explode!
a $5000. deductible seems high but maybe it's not. am i mistaken?
 

gillumhouse

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wow. legal advice needed on this one.
odd that candles in glass are allowed. i've had them explode!
a $5000. deductible seems high but maybe it's not. am i mistaken?.
Since we never expect to use it (at least hope not), having the highest deductible within reason makes the insurance affordable. And since we sincerely hope we are just throwing our money down a rat hole, making it as little money as possible makes sense.
 

MooseTrax

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wow. legal advice needed on this one.
odd that candles in glass are allowed. i've had them explode!
a $5000. deductible seems high but maybe it's not. am i mistaken?.
Ours is also that high. And it hurts when you have to pay that out of pocket for repairs.
 

Breakfast Diva

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wow. legal advice needed on this one.
odd that candles in glass are allowed. i've had them explode!
a $5000. deductible seems high but maybe it's not. am i mistaken?.
We just changed ours from a $1,000 deductable to $5,000. It did save us a bit of money.
The problem is, even with a lower deductable, if you did file a claim for a few thousand dollars, your premium would probably go up, so I think most of us just bite the bullet if there is any damage that is not in the thousands anyway. Better to just take care of the "smaller" things on your own instead of increasing your premium or having that black mark by filing a claim.
 

seashanty

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with a fire ... especially in a place that serves guests ... i'd have had the fire department over just to be sure it was out. possible electrical and structural damage is a concern and would require an inspection.
very sad!
i don't even want to go into the question of insurance.
 

aieechihuahua

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I talked with my friend today. The update is that because she did all of the cleanup and repair herself she got the actual cost down to about $3500. She has spoken with the folks who actually booked the rooms, (for a retreat of sorts with a spiritual group), and while they felt they had no liability in this, they said they would speak with the guest and she would be compensated. I don't know what makes them so sure, but the guest called and said she would be wiring the money this week. I'll let you know if that happens. However - this group uses my friends place often to put their clients at, and I think they like the relationship and will come through in some fashion.
My friend did not include loss of use although I think she should have. She did speak at length with her insurance adjuster, and while she did not file a claim he advised that if she did he would go after the guest and the people who booked the room and It would be for a lot more than she charged the guest, and would include loss of use and other things she did not charge for, I guess - like her time.
The only bright spot in this was that the room mate of the stupid guest, (the woman who had been there several times before), who had no liability in it at all slipped my friend $400 to buy new bedding things. That was nice.
 

Samster

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I talked with my friend today. The update is that because she did all of the cleanup and repair herself she got the actual cost down to about $3500. She has spoken with the folks who actually booked the rooms, (for a retreat of sorts with a spiritual group), and while they felt they had no liability in this, they said they would speak with the guest and she would be compensated. I don't know what makes them so sure, but the guest called and said she would be wiring the money this week. I'll let you know if that happens. However - this group uses my friends place often to put their clients at, and I think they like the relationship and will come through in some fashion.
My friend did not include loss of use although I think she should have. She did speak at length with her insurance adjuster, and while she did not file a claim he advised that if she did he would go after the guest and the people who booked the room and It would be for a lot more than she charged the guest, and would include loss of use and other things she did not charge for, I guess - like her time.
The only bright spot in this was that the room mate of the stupid guest, (the woman who had been there several times before), who had no liability in it at all slipped my friend $400 to buy new bedding things. That was nice..
Sounds like despite the damages, the outcome was not too bad. Good luck to your friend with getting things back together!
 

JBloggs

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Isn't that typical - I burned up a room, why would I be liable? Jeepers. I hope it all pans out for them. Give her our best!
 

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