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The federal government has limited involvement in the private relationships between hotels and guests.

  • Title 42 of the U. S. Code, Chapter 21, Subchapter II (Public Accommodations) makes prohibited discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applicable to “any inn, hotel, motel, or other establishment which provides lodging to transient guests.”
  • Under a phase-in provision, hotels must meet the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA); any new or renovated hotel facility must comply with the Act’s mandates for public access and/or removal of physical barriers.
  • The Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990 (as amended in 1996) imposes additional safety requirements upon hotel facilities above and beyond those found in local building codes.

Generally, most day-to-day liability issues affecting hotels are based on early English common law theories of contract and tort (negligence). States are free to enact their own statutes regarding innkeepers’ rights and duties, so long as they do not abridge federal rights and most states have done so. Waivers or limitations to liability are also generally permitted, where not deemed “unconscionable” in law or fact.


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