A key aspect of being a proactive business owner is understanding how the law impacts your industry. Fortunately, many industries have areas of the law devoted specifically to their business practices. The hospitality industry is one such industry, as hotelkeepers in the U.S. Virgin Islands are governed under Title 27, Chapter 13, Sections 401-408 of the Virgin Islands Code.
The following is a closer breakdown of the different provisions of the hotelkeeper law:
Key definitions: To help clarify terms as they are used in the relevant chapter, the words “hotel,” “hotelkeeper” and “guest” are defined. A hotel is a place where sleeping accommodations are provided, while a hotelkeeper is any person or group involved in the administration of the hotel. A guest, meanwhile, must either be registered or on the premises with the intent to register.
Safes and limited liability: This section of the law declares that a safe must be provided for storing valuables and that a hotelkeeper shall not be liable for losses exceeding $200, regardless of whether the valuables were stored in the safe.
Other personal property and limited liability: Similarly, other personal property, such as apparel, luggage, merchandise for sale and property left in vehicles, is not the responsibility of the hotelkeeper, who may be liable for certain losses of $100 or less.
Guest registration records: Hotelkeepers are to maintain records of guests’ names, addresses, arrival and departure dates and room rates for at least two years.
Unclaimed property liens: When property is brought onto the premises, the hotelkeeper has a lien on that property. In the event that property is left on the premises and unclaimed for six months, a public auction of the property may be held. The law goes into further detail about the use of funds obtained from these auctions.
Refusal of accommodations: A hotelkeeper is not obligated to permit everyone to rent a room or use the facilities at the hotel. Intoxication, disorderly behavior, dangerous illnesses, criminal record, refusal to pay and attempting to bring certain types of property onto the premises may be cause for refusal of accommodations. Denial of accommodations on the basis of race, creed or color is prohibited, however.
Eviction: A hotelkeeper may evict a guest from the hotel if that person has knowingly violated rules, damaged the property or remained on the premises past the length of the reservation. Notice of eviction must be delivered in writing.
Posted rates: Finally, room rates are to be posted in each room of the hotel, and hotelkeepers are prohibited from charging rates higher than those posted.
Although some elements of the hotelkeeper law are relatively straightforward, others can be more complex. If you find yourself on either side of a legal dispute, consult an experienced attorney who understands the USVI hotelkeeper law and how its provisions may apply to your situation.
BoltNagi is a widely respected and well-established business law firm serving clients throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.