Feds urge rental websites to warn of elevator dangers
Days after the death of a child who got stuck in an elevator at a North Carolina vacation rental, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is calling on vacation rental websites to warn customers about the dangers of home elevators and require hosts to lock elevators until they are inspected.
In a letter to Airbnb, VRBO and others on Tuesday, the commission’s acting Chairman Robert Adler urged them to “act immediately to protect consumers.”
“Residential elevators can pose a deadly but unforeseen hazard to children, particularly children who are encountering them in vacation or rental homes,” Adler wrote in the letter. “I reach out to you, not as a regulator, but in the hopes that you will join us in ensuring that children are safe in rentals on your platform.”
The action comes in the wake of the July 11 death of a 7-year-old Ohio boy who got trapped between an elevator car and the shaft at an Outer Banks beach house.
“The agency is taking steps with the manufacturers, but we need the businesses that facilitate vacation rentals to join us,” Adler said in a news release. “These injuries and deaths are horrific, and we need property owners and rental agencies to disable elevators immediately until they have been inspected.”
Space guards or electronic monitoring devices can make elevators safer, Adler said. He urged the platforms to immediately notify renters of this potential hazard. He also urged them to immediately require hosts to lock or otherwise disable elevators until they can provide proof of an inspection certifying no hazardous gaps and make these inspections a requirement going forward.
VRBO will share elevator safety information with property owners with elevators, including a recommendation to disable elevators until they are inspected and common safety issues are addressed, according to a statement from the company Thursday. Elevator safety information has also been posted to a safety page all guests can access. The moves are in response to the commission’s request and part of a commitment to guest safety, the company said.
An Airbnb spokesperson said the company is reviewing the letter, but didn’t have further comment.