Removal of Guests
Generally, an innkeeper gives a general license to all persons to enter his/her inn. It is not a trespass for one to enter an inn without a previous actual invitation. A guest is a paying patron of an inn or hotel. A guest is staying in a hotel for his own purpose. A guest is not interested in the business purposes of a hotel. A voluntary departure without an intention of return terminates the guest relationship. Duties arising out of the innkeeper-guest relationship are terminated when the guest pays the bill and checks out of the hotel. An innkeeper may lawfully refuse to entertain objectionable characters calculated to injure his business or guests in a hazardous, uncomfortable or dangerous situation. The innkeeper need not accept anyone as a guest who is calculated to and will injure his/her business[i].
A guest has a right to remain in the hotel for a reasonable time. Upon the expiration of the rental period, a hotel guest has no right to use the room. S/he loses any privacy interest associated with it[ii].
In order to remain in the hotel a guest must behave properly. A guest must pay the amount charged. A guest becomes a trespasser when s/he conducts himself/herself in a disorderly manner and refuses to leave upon request. Additionally, an innkeeper can eject from the hotel, lodging house, any person who is unwilling or unable to pay for accommodations and services of the hotel or the lodging house. A guest can be ejected by resorting to necessary force. There is no necessary to acquire a right of action for ejecting a guest who behaves improperly or disorderly[iii].
A guest admitted to an inn can be removed thereafter by the innkeeper for:
- refusal to pay his bill;
- becoming obnoxious to the other guests by his/her fault;
- becoming a person of general bad reputation; or
- behaving in a disorderly manner.
An innkeeper can refuse to entertain objectionable characters injuring his/her business and placing himself or his guests in a hazardous, uncomfortable, or dangerous situation. In one case [iv], the guest paid her board and lodging for a week in advance. She proved that she was residing away and came there for treatment. She stayed in the hotel for a week. Later she was informed that she no longer had a room at that hotel. When questioned, the proprietors argued that the guest was a woman of bad character. The proprietors argued that she was a recent inmate of a house of prostitution and was of notoriously immoral character. The proprietors claimed to lose business because of her presence at their hotel. The court held that the proprietors are permitted to lawfully refuse to entertain objectionable characters, injuring their business or to place the hotel in an uncomfortable situation. The court added that the means used to remove were not unlawful.
In another case [v], the occupant checked into a room and asked not to be disturbed. His mother not able to reach him asked the front desk to check on him. Hotel staff knocked the door and there was no response, except the sound of breaking glasses. The proprietor informed the police and he was arrested on refusal to answer to police inquiry and resistance. Later charges were dropped. However, the occupant and his mother brought an action against the hotel. The court observed that there is no landlord-tenant relationship between a hotel and its guest. “When a guest is obnoxious for some reason, he may be forcibly removed without resort to legal process, provided no more force is used than necessary”.
Public inns are conducted for travelers and transient persons. An innkeeper’s liability exists only in the case of one who is a traveler and seeks the hospitality of the inn as a transient guest. Under the common law, an inn keeper owes an extraordinary duty of protection, both of person and of property of travelers and transient persons[vi]. However, an innkeeper has no duty to keep one who has lost that status. A person is not entitled to stay indefinitely. A person can be ejected on reasonable notice without any other reason. Additionally, an innkeeper can eject a guest engaged in unlawful or objectionable conduct. When a guest’s stay is detrimental to the hotel, s/he can be removed. Some statutes empowers innkeeper to exclude disorderly persons[vii].
An innkeeper exercising his/her right to remove a guest must remove the guest in a reasonable and prudent manner. Moreover, a guest cannot be removed for an improper ground. An innkeeper cannot use force in ejecting a guest or invitee only on guest’s refusal to depart. S/he must first request the guest to depart. An innkeeper cannot use more force than is reasonably necessary to effect the ejection[viii].
[i] State v. Steele, 106 N.C. 766 (N.C. 1890).
[ii] State v. Ahumada, 125 Ariz. 316, 318 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1980).
[iii] State v. Gordon, 437 A.2d 855 (Me. 1981).
[iv] Raider v. Dixie Inn,198 Ky. 152, 153-154 (Ky. 1923).
[v] Bertuca v. Martinez, 2006 Tex. App. LEXIS 1386 (Tex. App. San Antonio Feb. 22, 2006).
[vi] Hackett v. Bell Operating Co., 181 A.D. 535, 536 (N.Y. App. Div. 1918).
[vii] United States v. Allen, 106 F.3d 695, 699 (6th Cir. Ky. 1997).
[viii] McBride v. Hosey, 197 S.W.2d 372 (Tex. Civ. App. 1946).