While most hotel guests come and go without any problems, a minority of visitors can outstay their welcome. Tenancy law allows residential landlords to evict problematic tenants, but it's not always so clear what hoteliers should do about troublesome guests. Find out how you should deal with problem guests, and learn more about the steps you should take to stay on the right side of the law.
Allowing guests entry
Hoteliers must allow anyone to enter the premises, even if they don't have a reservation or invitation. Discrimination laws stop a hotel owner declining guests on the basis of race, color, religion or nationality, but there are some instances when you can deny entry.
If you think somebody could injure your guests or damage your premises, you don't have to let them stay in your hotel. For example, if somebody turns up drunk or high on drugs, you could reasonably argue that they represent a hazard to other guests. Of course, most problem guests behave perfectly when they first arrive, and it's not until some time later that their conduct becomes an issue.
Reasons to get rid of guests
You must allow paying guests the right to use the hotel for a reasonable time. What's more, you must offer the agreed or advertised services. For example, you cannot tell them the room rate includes breakfast and dinner and then only offer breakfast. Likewise, a guest must behave in accordance with the hotel's terms and conditions.
He or she must:
- Pay the amount charged
- Pay for extra services and charges not included in the room rate
- Behave in an orderly manner and treat other guests with respect
You can also ask a guest to leave for illegal conduct. Notably, he or she does not need to carry out illegal activities on the premises. For example, if you discover that a guest works illegally as a prostitute elsewhere, you can still legally ask them to leave.
Transient guests and tenants
Before you evict a guest, it's important to think about the nature of the agreement they have with you.
Most hotel users are transient guests. This definition means that they rent the property for a short period without intending to stay there permanently, while a tenant rents a residential property with long-term intentions.
This becomes more complicated for hoteliers with extended-stay guests. Some travelers will rent a hotel room for weeks or even months at a time. Legally, an eviction only applies to a tenant. Hoteliers don't need to follow the same legal steps as a residential landlord, but if you're dealing with an extended-stay guest you can blur the definition.
It's generally a good idea to add a clause to your terms and conditions that states guests are transient. You should also always confirm a departure date no more than 28 days after the guest checks in. You can always renew or extend these agreements, but these terms and conditions confirm that the guest fully meets the transient guest definition.
Dealing with unwanted guests legally
While you don't need to follow the same legal steps as a residential landlord, reasonable conduct and common sense are still essential.
You should tell the guest that he or she must leave politely, without any insulting language and at a reasonable time of day. You must also make sure that your behavior is never threatening. If you don't follow these steps carefully, the guest could have grounds to sue you for defamation or infliction of emotional distress. As such, while you may want the guest to leave as soon as possible, you should try to compromise and reach an amicable solution.
You don't need to put the request in writing, but a formal letter that outlines the reason you want the guest to leave is useful if the guest decides to file any sort of complaint or dispute at a later stage. Your local hotel association may have a template you can adopt.
Dealing with guests who won't leave
If the guest leaves his or her room at any time, you can legally change the key card/lock, as long as you have already asked the guest to leave. In doing so, you must take care of the guest's possessions, and you must return his or her property when requested, even if he or she owes you money. It's advisable to record details of all items, with photos of more valuable items, as the unwanted guest may later allege that you damaged his or property.
If the guest doesn't leave the room and still refuses to leave, it's best to call the police. The law states that you can use force to eject a guest if he or she refuses to leave, but this approach is risky. For example, if you accidentally injure the guest, you could face an assault charge. You certainly cannot use more force than is necessary.
Unwanted hotel guests can cost hoteliers a lot of money, but you can legally take steps to evict these people. Talk to a professional eviction service for more information.