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I-Team 8 investigates if short-term rental property owners are liable for party violence

INDIANAPOLIS — The owner of a home where a 12-year-old was shot following a short-term rental property party could be liable for what happened.

That’s according to Shawna Eikenberry, professor of business law at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.

Eikenberry told I-Team 8 that the owner of the home likely won’t face criminal liability charges, but he could face civil liability.

“If somebody wants to sue the owner for negligence, for example, if they’re injured during one of these parties, foreseeability is going to be the most important issue,” said Eikenberry.

Anyone suing the owner would have to prove they knew about the party and that it could become violent.

“If the owner rented out a property knowing that maybe it was going to be used for an underage party, or had rented it out prior and knew things had happened like underage drinking, or violence, then that could rise to the level of some foreseeability that might provide liability to the owner,” said Eikenberry.

With the shooting where the 12-year-old was shot, Usif Muhammad, 18, and Peyton Minor, 19, were arrested.

They’re accused of hosting the party, charging for admission, and giving alcohol and drugs to kids who were there.

Eikenberry told I-Team 8 it could be difficult to prove the owner of the home knew all of that was going to happen. “The general rule is you are not going to be liable if criminal activity happens on your property,” said Eikenberry.

Short-term rental parties that turn violent are a relatively new trend in Indianapolis. IMPD just started cracking down on them in the last few months.

“Are we really just in uncharted waters here?” I-Team 8 asked Eikenberry.

“I am not aware of any Indiana cases involving short-term rentals. That doesn’t mean they’re not out there,” said Eikenberry.

I-Team 8 spoke with the owner of the home on Tuesday to find out what he knew about the party, but he denied the request for an interview.