Is it Legal? Answers to Questions on Employment and Hospitality Law

This blog is part of a six-part series answering questions of interest to the hospitality industry. This blog focuses on a hotels obligations to its guests.  Please see our December 14, 2017 article for an introduction to this series of blogs.

The answers below are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.  You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.

  1. What should a hotel do if a parent purchases a room for minors and then leaves?  If the hotel makes them wait outside, are they liable if someone gets hurt?

Under MCL 427.302, a hotel or bed and breakfast may refuse to rent or lease a hotel room or a bed and breakfast room to a minor other than an emancipated minor.  It would reasonably follow that a hotel could deny the minor access to the room if the parent left with no intention to return.  A hotel may request documentation from persons renting a room to confirm the person is not a minor or is an emancipated minor.

It would not be advisable to force the minor outside the hotel if their parent has left, as this could potentially result in a claim against the hotel if something happened to the minor.  Hotel staff should contact the parents or police and ask the minors to stay in the lobby.

  1. Is the hotel required to provide a safe in every room? 

There is no Michigan law that requires a hotel to provide a safe in every room.  A hotel should provide a safe for its guests, either in their rooms or on the property, because it allows the hotel to limit its liability for guests’ belongings.

Pursuant to MCL 427.102, a hotel will not be liable for any loss of valuables if the following conditions are met:

  • Safe provided in good order;
  • MCL 427.102 notice is posted in not less than 10 conspicuous places in the hotel; and
  • doors and windows of the guest rooms are secured with suitable locks and bolts.

A hotel will still be responsible for articles of guests which are lost because of theft or negligence of the hotel or its employees.  However, the liability of the hotel will be limited to $250 if the statutory requirements above are met.

  1. If a hotel guest is staying for several days, can the hotel ever enter to check on the room if the “Do Not Disturb” sign is on the door?

It is likely that a hotel would be permitted to enter a guest’s hotel room every few days to perform maintenance, or to do a safety check, if it was a policy of the hotel.

Answering this question requires weighing the guest’s expectation of privacy with the hotel’s interest in maintaining its property.  If a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, the hotel should probably not enter the hotel room during their stay.

In order to determine if the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, the following test is helpful:

(1) does the guest have an actual (subjective) expectation of privacy in the room; and

(2) is the expectation one that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable.

United States v. Lanier, 636 F.3d 228, 230 (2011).

If the hotel’s policy provides that it will conduct maintenance, or a safety check, every few days (i.e. 3 days), it is less likely that a guest could claim a reasonable expectation of privacy at the time the maintenance was performed.  This is because the guest was previously informed that someone would be entering their room to conduct maintenance, and society would likely not find that the expectation of privacy to the exclusion of hotel maintenance is reasonable.

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