Federal government urges rental websites to warn of elevator dangers
Days after the death of a child trapped in an elevator at a vacation rental in North Carolina, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission calls on vacation rental websites to warn customers of the dangers of home elevators and requiring guests to lock elevators until they are inspected.
In a letter to Airbnb, VRBO and others on Tuesday, the committee’s acting chairman, Robert Adler, urged them to “act immediately to protect consumers.”
“Residential elevators can present a life-threatening but unforeseen hazard to children, especially children who encounter them in vacation or rental homes,” Adler wrote in the letter. “I am contacting you, not as a regulator, but in the hope that you will join us in ensuring that children are safe in the rentals on your platform.”
The action comes following the death on July 11 of a 7-year-old boy from Ohio who was trapped between an elevator car and the well of an Outer Banks beach house .
“The agency is taking action with manufacturers, but we need the companies that facilitate vacation rentals to join us,” Adler said in a statement. “These injuries and deaths are horrific, and we need owners and rental companies to turn off elevators immediately until they have been inspected.”
Space guards or electronic surveillance devices can make elevators safer, Adler said. He urged platforms to immediately notify tenants of this potential danger. He also urged them to immediately demand that hosts lock or deactivate elevators until they can provide proof of an inspection certifying that there are no dangerous deficiencies and make such inspections a requirement in the future.
VRBO will share elevator safety information with elevator owners, including a recommendation to deactivate elevators until they are inspected and common safety issues are addressed, according to a company statement Thursday. . Elevator safety information has also been posted on a safety page which all customers can access. These measures respond to the commission’s request and are part of a commitment to customer safety, the company said.
A spokesperson for Airbnb said the company was reviewing the letter, but had no further comment.