Legal implications of 24/7 or 24 hour access

We found that many coworking owners and operators find it a necessity to provide 24/7 access to their space. Often they use Kisi to do so (awesome!).

However there are some legal implications – think about if something happened during the night or weekend. There needs to be clear rules around accountability and security.

From what we have been researching there are quite a bit of topics that surface regarding legal implications of 24/7 access. Here are some we found:

  • Time policy for room bookings
  • Security – during hours, after hours (eg. what kind of guest you can bring into the space)
  • IT policy (eg. what you are allowed to access using the shared wifi, are you allowed to run ethernet etc)
  • Damages to space
  • Noise level policy during all hours
  • Respecting the use and storage of items in the common pantry
  • Cleanliness policy – shared spaces (kitchen etc.), booked spaces (conference room etc.), private spaces (office desk etc.)
  • Invoicing and payment
  • Insurance
  • After-hours admin support in co-working space
  • Confidentiality and Liability of co-working space
  • Others – pets, bikes, children, recycling
  • Penalty for non-compliance – fines, suspensions, blacklisting

The resources we’ve used are the coworking membership agreement, coworking house rules and other free coworking documents from the cowering wiki.

The language used in the agreements range from simple terms like this one:

“If you are the last person to leave, turn off the lights and make sure the coffee maker & stove are off; close all windows, and lock the door.”

to these ones about security in the space:

“You may not attempt to gain unauthorized access to any Services, or accounts, computer systems or networks connected to any *Coworking Space* server or to any of the Services, through hacking, password mining or any other means. You may not obtain or attempt to obtain any materials or information through any means not intentionally made available through the Services.”

and probably most importantly the coworking renter’s insurance policy:

“*Coworking Space* will carry Liability and Business Personal Property insurance. As a user, it is strongly suggested that you carry a Renters Insurance policy to cover your own equipment while using our space. That policy may cover your current residence/office, as well as the premises of *Coworking Space*”.

This paragraph ensures that your members have an insurance that covers stolen or damaged items in the coworking space.

It is important to put all these aspects in the membership agreement to be protected against liability when something happens in the coworking space.

It can be helpful to have house rules in addition to the membership agreement to ensure that everybody is aware of these rules. Otherwise problems can occur, especially in the kitchen or with pets. Examples can be found here and here.

Your house rules should cover the following topics.

  1. Opening hours
  2. Meeting rooms
  3. Furniture
  4. Cleaning
  5. Animals
  6. Mail collection
  7. Noise, Music
  8. Emergency Plan
  9. Space staff
  10. Guests
  11. Penalties

In the Coworking Handbook, there is a good resource for other legal documents that a coworking space owner has to deal with. It can be found here.

The coworking management software Nexudus came up with a legal guide for coworking spaces, which is also very helpful.

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