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An individual who, as a regular business, provides accommodations for guests in exchange for reasonable compensation.
An inn is defined as a place where lodgings are made available to the public for a charge, such as a hotel, motel, hostel, or guest house. A guest is a transient who receives accommodations at an inn, transiency being the major characteristic distinguishing him or her from a boarder. In order for the relationship of innkeeper and guest to be established, the parties must intend to have such a relationship. The individual accommodated must be received as a guest and must obtain accommodations in such capacity. The individual need not, however, register.
An innkeeper must accept all unobjectionable individuals offering themselves as guests, provided the innkeeper has available accommodations and the guests are willing to pay the reasonable charges. Proper grounds for a refusal to receive a proposed guest are ordinarily restricted to either lack of accommodations or the unsuitability of the guest.
It is improper and a violation of an individual's Civil Rights for an innkeeper to refuse accommodations on the basis of race, creed, or color. Upon assignment to a room, a guest is entitled to its exclusive occupancy for all lawful purposes, subject to the right of the innkeeper to enter the room for proper purposes, such as to assist the police in their investigation of a crime.
An innkeeper is permitted to charge a reasonable compensation only, and must ordinarily fulfill his or her entire obligation prior to being entitled to the compensation. In the event that a guest does not pay, the innkeeper has a lien on the guest's property. Such a lien ordinarily extends to all property brought by the guest to the inn and generally continues until the debt is satisfied unless the innkeeper voluntarily surrenders the goods. The innkeeper may remove a guest upon refusal to pay his or her bill but cannot, however, use excessive force.
An innkeeper has an obligation to reasonably protect guests from injury while at the inn. This duty of reasonable care mandates vigilance in protection of the guests from foreseeable risks. The innkeeper must protect guests from injury at the hands of other guests and from assaults and negligent acts of his or her own employees. The obligation to protect guests is not met merely by warning them, but must be coupled with a policing of the premises.
An innkeeper must take reasonable care regarding the safety of the guests' property and must warn guests of any hidden dangers that can be reasonably foreseen. This duty includes making inspections to ascertain that the premises are safe. The innkeeper is liable for any injuries arising from his or her failure to comply with fire regulations. Reasonably safe means of ingress and egress must be provided.
An innkeeper is required to use reasonable care to keep the hallways, passageways, and stairways well lighted and free from obstructions or hazards. An innkeeper who furnishes appliances or furniture for the convenience of guests must maintain them in a reasonably safe condition. Similar duties are required in connection with plumbing apparatus and swimming pools.
Reasonable care must be exercised by an innkeeper in the operation and maintenance of an elevator, which means that the elevator must be inspected and repaired to keep it in safe condition. The obligation to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition applies to windows and screens that are defective or insecurely fastened. Failure to have protective window grills or to guard air shafts located on a roof does not, however, necessarily constitute Negligence.
The prevalent Common Law view makes an innkeeper liable as an insurer for all Personal Property brought by the guest to the inn that is lost through the innkeeper's fault. There is no liability, however, if the guest assumes the entire and exclusive care, control, and possession of his or her property. State laws have been enacted with respect to the liability of innkeepers for the property of their guests. Generally the statutes modify the common law by limiting the innkeeper's liability to a specified amount and by requiring deposit of valuables. Guests must have notice of any limitations of the innkeeper's liability.
INNKEEPER. He is defined to be the keeper of a common inn for the lodging
and entertainment of travellers and passengers, their horses and attendants,
for a reasonable compensation. Bac. Ab. Inns, &c.; Story, Bailm. Sec. 475.
But one who entertains strangers occasionally, although he may receive
compensation for it, is not an innkeeper. 2 Dev. & Bat. 424.
2. His duties will be first considered and, secondly, his rights.
3.-1. He is bound to take in and receive all travellers and wayfaring persons, and to entertain them, if he can accommodate them, for a reasonable compensation; and he must guard their goods with proper diligence. He is liable only for the goods which are brought within the inn. 8 Co. 32; Jones' Bailm. 91. A delivery of the goods into the custody of the innkeeper is not, however, necessary, in order to make him responsible; for although he may not know anything of such goods, he is bound to pay for them if they are stolen or carried away, even by an unknown person; 8 Co. 32; Hayw. N. C. R. 41; 14 John. R. 175; 1 Bell's Com. 469; and if he receive the guest, the custody of the goods may be considered as an* accessory to the principal contract; and the money paid for the apartments as extending to the care of the box and portmanteau. Jones' Bailm. 94; Story, Bailm. Sec. 470; 1 Bl. Com. 430; 2 Kent, Com. 458 to 463. The degree of care which the innkeeper is bound to take is uncommon care, and he will be liable for a slight negligence. He is responsible for the acts of his domestics and servants, as well as for the acts of his other guests, if the goods are stolen or lost; but he is not responsible for any tort or injury done by his servants or others, to the, person of his guest, without his own cooperation or consent. 8 Co. 32. The innkeeper will be excused whenever the loss has occurred through the fault of the guest. Story, Bailm. Sec. 483: 4 M. & S. 306; S. C. 1 Stark. R. 251, note 2 Kent, Com. 461; 1 Yeates' R. 34.
4.-2. The innkeeper is entitled to a just compensation for his care and trouble in taking care of his guest and his property; and to enable him to obtain this, the law invests him with some peculiar privileges, giving him alien upon the goods, of the guest, brought into the inn, and, it is said, upon the person of his guest, for his compensation. 3 B. & Ald. 287; 8 Mod. 172; 1 Shower, Rep. 270; Bac. Ab. Inns, &c., D. But the horse of the guest can be detained only for his own keeping, and not for the boarding and personal expenses of the guest. Bac. Ab. h. t. The landlord may also bring an action for the recovery of his compensation.
Vide, generally, 1 Vin. Ab. 224; 14 Vin. Ab. 436; Bac. Ab. h. t.; Yelv. 67, a, 162, a; 2 Kent, Com. 458; Ayl. Pand. 266; 9 Pick. 280; 21 Wend. 285; 1 Yeates, 35: Oliph. on the Law of Horses, 125; Bouv. Inst. Index, h. t.