I parked my car in the hotel car park at night when I was having some drinks with my friends. After drinking I found the car missing and the guards denied seeing anybody taking the car. I told the hotel manager that I wanted the hotel to compensate me for the theft of my car because it was stolen within the hotel’s car park but the manager denied any liability on the ground that at the car park there is a warning that all cars are parked at owners’ risk, so the guest has the duty to ensure the safety of his car. Is this warning enough to absolve the hotel from liability for theft of the car stolen from the hotel’s car park?
Section 27(2) of the Tourism Act, 2008 sets out two conditions which must be met by a guest for him to qualify to be compensated for theft or loss of the property stolen at the hotel or lodge. The guest must prove that the property was stolen through fault or neglect or willful act of the hotel owner or operator or his employee. The property must have been deposited with or declared to the hotel owner or operator or the employee of the owner or operator. In the absence of express declaration of the property to the hotel owner or the employee of the hotel, it is easy for any guest to claim loss or theft that his property has been stolen from the hotel premises or car park. Hence if at the time you entered the hotel you declared the car to the hotel manager or hotel guard which you likely did, you can claim compensation from the hotel if you can further prove that theft was attributed to the negligence or fault of the hotel guards. A warning itself that the car is parked at the owner’s risk is not enough to exonerate the hotel from liability. Furthermore the hotel might also have insurance who could end up paying for the loss.