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I wonder whether hotels in California have a legal obligation to disclose prior reports of bed bug presence, if a potential customer enquires about it.

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    Why would they possibly have such an obligation? It's the past, and it will not necessarily have relevance to whether bugs are there now.
    – Greendrake
    Aug 23, 2021 at 6:07
  • @Greendrake bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid off. Aug 23, 2021 at 6:13
  • Difficult, not impossible. If such an obligation existed, it would implicitly endorse the truth of the statement "if bugs were there in the past, they're likely there now". I would therefore be very surprised if it existed.
    – Greendrake
    Aug 23, 2021 at 6:17
  • Hotels are actually pretty good at getting rid of bed bugs, since they can seal off a room for long-term treatment. They're notoriously difficult to get rid of at home, because, well, you still need a place to sleep.
    – Sneftel
    Aug 23, 2021 at 9:30

1 Answer 1

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Jusrisdiction:

In E&W this might be covered by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

Legal framework

Regulation 3(1) prohibits "unfair commercial practices".

Regulation 2(1) defines a commercial practice as:

any act, omission, course of conduct, representation or commercial communication (including advertising and marketing) by a trader, which is directly connected with the promotion, sale or supply of a product to or from consumers, whether occurring before, during or after a commercial transaction (if any) in relation to a product;

Regulation 3(4)(b) provides that "a commercial practice is unfair if it is a misleading omission under the provisions of regulation 6"

Regulation 6(1) provides that:

a commercial practice is a misleading omission if, in its factual context, taking account of the matters in paragraph (2), (a) the commercial practice omits material information, (b) the commercial practice hides material information, (c) the commercial practice provides material information in a manner which is unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely, [...], and as a result it causes or is likely to cause the average consumer to take a transactional decision he would not have taken otherwise.

The "matters in paragraph (2)" includes, inter alia, "all the features and circumstances of the commercial practice".

Finally, regulation 6(3) provides that "material information" includes "the information which the average consumer needs, according to the context, to take an informed transactional decision".

Application to facts

The issue will be:

  1. Whether the omission (of prior bed bug reports) is an omission of information which the average consumer needs to take an informed decision to go ahead with staying at the hotel.
  2. Whether the omission causes or is likely to cause the average consumer to decide to stay at the hotel when they wouldn't have chosen to do so had they known about the prior bed bug reports.
  3. Whether the above points still hold considering the factual context, and features, and circumstances of the commercial practice.

If the bed bug report was from yesterday, and the hotel have not yet taken any pest control measures, then arguably this is information which you need to make an informed decision, and you might not have chosen to stay in the hotel had you known.

On the other hand, if the bed bug report was from weeks ago and the hotel have verified that there is no longer any bed bug presence, then considering the factual context it seems unlikely that this is information which you need in order to make an informed choice.

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  • Ah, I was looking under the H&S regs to no avail.
    – user35069
    Aug 23, 2021 at 11:51

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