London hoteliers will have to pay up to 15 times more for lost, stolen or damaged guests' property from 13 July onwards.
Changes to the London Local Authorities Act, which was given royal assent late last month, will mean that hoteliers in Greater London will be liable to pay up to £750 per item and £1,500 per guest for any loss of, or damage to, their luggage. The limits were previously £50 per item and £100 per guest.
Hotels outside Greater London and those in the City are currently exempt from the increases.
Liability limits could have been much higher had it not been for the British Hospitality Association (BHA), which successfully fought to lower the proposed limit of £3,000 per item.
The raising of the compensation limits was requested by the Metropolitan Police in a bid to make hoteliers increase their security and to cut crime.
Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the BHA, said police had pressed for the liabilities to be raised because they said there was a specific theft problem at London's hotels.
It is hoped that the new levels will encourage hoteliers to invest in improving their security measures.
Couchman added that hoteliers who notice a drastic increase in claims from guests should contact police immediately, as they have promised to investigate any suspicious claims.
He also pointed out that hoteliers who do not display a notice detailing their liability are not protected by the limits. Copies of notices displaying the new limits can be obtained from Hospitality Data Services on 01462 701500.
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 3 June 2004