Minors Alone in Guestrooms

From “Ask Kit!”:

Q: Is it legal in the state of california to have a 12 year old and a 14 year old stay in a seperate room down the hall from parents?

A: I don’t know California laws, though I’d think it would be easy to get the answer to that one either online or by calling and asking. Regardless of whether it’s legal or not, it doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. Kids need supervision, for their protection and safety more than anything. As an innkeeper I don’t think I’d allow that arrangement.

What’s your story behind this question?

Expanding my comment form the original Q&A post:
With the omni-present connectivity kids have today, I think it’s best to not allow them to be left alone in your guestrooms. While a B&B is safer, by virtue of the owner/manager being around and knowing their guests, there’s too much at stake to take a chance. As of mid-year 2017, child abduction for sex trafficking is on the rise and you don’t want to have that even possible from your inn.

4 thoughts on “Minors Alone in Guestrooms”

  1. From “Ask Kit!”:
    Q: This is just a fallow up on a question. I have been an innkeeper for quite a few years now and i am currently employed by an 16 room inn in the russian river valley in california i worked for this inn a few years ago and in the time after i quit it was sold and i began working for the new owners about 3 months ago i think times have been tough for the new owners sense they bought the inn and business is down they had a reservation for 3 rooms for 3 nights at the rate of 309.00 per night quite a bit of revinue well yesterday the woman who booked the room called and said she needed to add another room than she said she would like the cheepest room as it was for a 12 year old and a 14 year old she was speaking with an owner the owner put her on hold to ask her husband when the owner returned to the phone to tell the woman she did not think it was legal the woman said if we did not let the children stay she would pull the reservations i am in agreement with you i think the legality does not matter i feel the inn should have rules against those things for many reasons all the ones you stated and more but i am sure come time for them to come i will be checking in 2 kids to a room it is my feeling that you would not rent a room to these kids if they tryed alone so why would you let them stay in a room without an adult
    A: This sounds like a truly difficult situation. You and the owner seem to have a different take on the potential problem, you are the one having to interact with the guests, and you have a guest throwing her “financial weight” around. It doesn’t sound comfortable for you at all.
    I’d love to hear how others would handle this, both as a manager and as an owner.

  2. I don’t know what the law is in Kentucky where I operate but it sounds like an accident waiting to happen and a guest that may be more trouble than she’s worth. Personally, I do not permit underage children in rooms without the parents, even in our set up where we have two suites with a connecting door. There are a multitude of antiques and two sets of very steep stairs. I envision roaming and curious teenagers and sleeping parents–not a good combination in an unfamiliar environment.
    And quite honestly, someone that is threatening to take away their business because we can’t accommodate—sounds like someone that might be first to call a lawyer in the event of an “accident”. And that cost will be considerably more than a few lost room nights.
    If the parent is really insistent on the children coming along, perhaps each parent should occupy a room with one child.

  3. I would caution all readers that the opinons expressed on this board are only lay opinions. None of us are attorneys. Innkeepers who have concerns about the liability of children who have been left alone in a room are best advised to contact an attorney and/or insurance agent to determine the liability of their business.
    It could well be that your liability concerns will shape your future policies.
    My personal feeling which in no way represents a legal opinion, is that parents should stay with their kids. If the child is old enough to have his or her own room, I don’t have a problem with the child being in one room with the parents being in a neighboring room.
    I do have a problem with parents who want to leave their children unsupervised at the inn.
    Even though I am a retired teacher, I have no interest in supervising children. I am unwilling to assume responsibility should something happen to a child while the parents are away.
    Even if parents are on site, lodging facilities may still be held accountable in a civil court for anything that happens to a child. (It should be noted that the burden of proof needed in a civil court is much less than the burden of proof required in a criminal court).
    Consider the following examples.
    In 1997, a 7 year old girl was killed in an LA hotel restroom. The mother sued the hotel corporation for negligence. According to the on-line article, “Beverly Hills, Calif., lawyer Barry Dunn said the lawsuit boils down to the hotel’s lack of supervision of children despite Primm Valley having an all-night arcade catering to children. Hotel security should have recognized an arcade would attract those who prey on children, Dunn said. Hotel executives say security guards gave Iverson and his son more than one warning not to leave Sherrice (the girl who was murdered) without supervision after she was found wandering alone.”
    In 2003, an eight year old child named Brent Midlock drowned at a swimming pool in Playa del Carment Mexico, now known as the Grand Xcaret by Occidental. A lawsuit claims that the hotel negligently and carelessly failed to inspect, maintain, and design the pool where Brent Midlock died. The suit further alleges that the hotel’s negligence caused Brent Midlock to be sucked into one of three 12 ” drainage pipes which did not have any protective grates or coverings over them at the time to prevent or minimize the suction force that caused his death.
    The parents allege that the hotel knew what happened to Brent within two hours of the incident, and yet they allowed the mother and some of the hotel guests to engage in a missing person search for hours afterward. The parents also claim that efforts to recover the body did not begin until after 11 PM because the hotel didn’t want to upset the other guests.
    Inn at Elizabethville

  4. Ahhhh… a good reason to consider “Couples Only” It has been our policy all along and we have never regretted it. It has brought us far more guests than it has turned away.
    Though similar to David’s background, My wife is a teacher and I am a former teacher and we like to avoid children when not at school.

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