Florida innkeeper laws, which apply to hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, hostels and apartments, encompass several statutes and regulations. Many laws are found in Chapter 509 of the Florida Statutes and address issues such as when service may be denied and a hotel operator's responsibilities.
Your rights when you stay or live in a Florida hotel or motel are regulated by numerous Florida innkeeper laws. There is not one specific Florida innkeeper statute. Instead, various statutes regulate public lodgings, owners’ premises liability, food safety, sanitation and more. Most of these laws are found in the Florida Statutes Chapter 509.
Who Is an Innkeeper and What Does an Innkeeper Do?
To determine who constitutes an innkeeper, look to Florida Statute 509.151, regarding obtaining food and lodging with intent to defraud. This law is often referred to as “defrauding an innkeeper.” The law states that if you obtain food, lodging, or other accommodations at any public food service establishment or transient establishment, with intent to defraud the operator, then you are guilty of a crime. A transient establishment, under Florida Statute 509.013, is any public lodging establishment that is rented or leased to guests by an operator whose intention is that the guests stay temporarily.
Based on these statutes, you can presume that the definition of an innkeeper is someone who operates a transient establishment or a food service establishment. An innkeeper may own or operate a hotel, motel, bed and breakfast, inn or hostel.
When You May Be Denied Service by an Innkeeper
Under Florida Statute 509.092, public lodging establishments and public food establishments are private businesses, and the operator has the right to refuse service or accommodations to you if you are undesirable or objectionable. However, the law also states that an innkeeper cannot refuse you service because of your race, creed, color, sex, pregnancy, physical disability or national origin.
Additionally, you can be asked to leave once you are staying at a hotel or motel. Florida Statute 509.141 states an innkeeper can remove you or cause you to be removed from the premises if you:
- Illegally possess or deal controlled substances;
- Are intoxicated;
- Are profane, lewd or brawling;
- Disturb the peace and comfort of others with your language or conduct;
- Injure the reputation, dignity or standing of the business;
- Fail to pay; or
- Fail to check out by the established time.
If you refuse to leave when lawfully asked to do so, the hotel or motel operator can call the police.
Innkeepers Are not Responsible for Your Property
In most cases, hotels and motels are not responsible for the safety of your property or your lost property, based on Florida Statutes 509.111 and 509.191. The only time a hotel or motel becomes liable for the safekeeping of your property is when it specifically agrees to do so. For instance, you may ask to keep certain property locked in a hotel safe or behind the counter of a hotel. If you forget something at the hotel and the operator can identify it as yours, then you will receive notice to retrieve it. If you fail to do so, it becomes the property of the hotel or motel.
Additional Florida Hotel Laws
Standards for the physical safety of public lodging establishments are established by the Florida Building Code as well as Florida Statute 509.211. This law requires that each apartment or bedroom have a locking door. If the building is three stories or more, it must have secure railings on all balconies, platforms and stairwells. Also, every room must have a carbon monoxide detector.
Florida’s premises liability laws also apply to hotels and motels. Florida Statute 768.0755 regulates owners' premises liability for transitory foreign substances (spills) in a business, though most of Florida’s premises liability laws are derived from previous court cases. Based on case law, Florida innkeepers owe their invitees a high duty of care. Invitees may be public invitees, individuals who lawfully enter and remain in a place open to the public, or business invitees, individuals who enter and remain somewhere for a business purpose. Invitees include hotel and motel guests. Under this high duty of care, innkeepers have a duty to maintain their premises in a safe condition, including protecting guests against reasonably foreseeable crimes.
Who Regulates Florida Hotels?
The Florida Department of Health regulates many aspects of public lodgings. Hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, hotels and inns all constitute public lodging establishments and are regulated by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Division of Hotels and Restaurants. DBPR inspects all public lodging establishments for safety and sanitation violations. It is also the administrative agency that approves and renews licenses for food service and public lodging establishments.
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