Who pays for hotel theft?

You're just back from dinner and the iPad you left charging in your hotel room has disappeared. You've torn your hair out looking high and low but it's nowhere to be found. You might be entitled to compensation from your hotel, but that depends on where the disappearance occurred.

In Australia the liability of your accommodation provider for damaged or stolen property is governed by state law. Under Victoria's Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act of 2012, that liability is limited to $300 per unit of accommodation. In NSW the maximum is $100 per guest. If the loss was caused by negligence on the part of the hotelier, or if the guest's property was deposited with them for safekeeping, liability increases to a maximum of $3000 per accommodation per unit.

In Europe the liability of hotels to compensate for lost items is limited to 100 times the daily price of the hotel room for a theft committed inside the hotel. That's potentially huge, and you can expect a hotel would go all out to prove their innocence.

In the US, a hotel's liability for guests' belongings also varies according to state law. If the hotel can demonstrate adequate security and working locks on the door, in most states the hotel will not be held responsible for any loss or damage. In some jurisdictions a sign in the lobby that states, "This hotel is not responsible for stolen or lost items" can be their get-out-of-jail-free card.

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