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I am so furious right now. AirBnB customer service has been less than impressive since I opened my account last month, but shutting down my listing is the last straw.
My daughter has a severe dog allergy. As in, her face starts swelling up if she’s in a room that a dog has been in. This is not a minor case of a couple sneezes, it is a SEVERE allergy. She helps me clean our AirBnB, so I am very clear in my listing that we cannot have animals in the house due to severe allergy.
One of my first bookings was someone with a service dog (who thankfully notified me ahead of time), and I immediately called AirBnB to see what could be done. They agreed that a conflicting medical condition was a valid reason to deny service animals in our house and canceled the booking with no penalties. I asked them for clarification about the policy because it says you can only deny service animals in a “shared space,” and ours is a whole-house rental. But they assured me that a medical condition is a valid reason to deny service animals and that I just needed to be clear about it in my listing, which I was (and have since added to my house rules, in addition to having it in my listing description.)
This morning, I get an email that someone has flagged my listing and that it has been shut down until I change my policy because it violates the nondiscrimination policy. I am fuming!!!
Ftr- having a child with serious medical issues and being very involved in the world of disability and chronic illness, I know and respect the importance of service animals and have many friends who own service animals. I would NEVER discriminate against someone with a service animal without good cause.
Yes, that’s exactly what happened. Someone read my listing, flagged it, and Air shut me down, no questions asked.
I responded to the email (because they refused to speak to me over the phone, wanting the conversation documented), and they wanted more information to see if they could grant an exception to the policy. So obviously, there can be exceptions. I explained the entire situation to them and got back a short reply that basically, I don’t qualify for an exception and that I have to change my listing in order to get it reinstated. They are now ignoring my emails.
One of my biggest problem with their service animal policy is that Air also allows “emotional support animals,” which basically means that anybody can say their animal is a service animal (because emotional support animals have NO certification, NO training, NO documentation required), not notify the host, show up with a dog, and then cry discrimination if the host says anything about it.
Bottom line is that if people bring dogs into my house, I can no longer go in it because my daughter will have a severe reaction. So the only option I see is to add a huge cleaning fee to my prices in order to cover the cost of a cleaning service in this area ($30-40/hr, which would cost me anywhere from $60-120 per booking, depending on how much laundry and cleaning needs to be done), which of course is going to backfire by getting me less bookings.
I think you will have to supply medical documentation and consider if it reasonable that you get your daughter to help with cleaning as this does seem to be able to resolved by hiring help and adding it to your cleaning fee.
I think the best solution for you is to hire cleaners and not take the risk to your daughter’s health. You want to continue hosting and this is just not something you can get around, as (agree with it or not), it is the law in many states that accommodations must be made for service animals. I’m assuming you are in the states, where this is a more contentious issue and discrimination lawsuits are prevalent.
Airbnb is likely just covering their bases in order to follow laws that may vary from state to state. So even if this is not a law in your state, they have a blanket guideline for their company and the users of their service. That’s not helpful to your daughter, or any individual anomaly case, but it doesn’t appear that you will be able to prevail in this situation.
Knowing your options, I would follow the advice given here: remove all mention of service animals from your listing and immediately notify Airbnb of this, in order to have your listing restored. Keep the no pets allowed on your listing. Hire cleaners and increase the cleaning fee…and keep your daughter from entering the property or your family using it yourselves until it has a thorough deep clean of surfaces and textiles where she will be safe. Because the truth is, when renting entire properties where the host is not present, one can never know whether or not a guest has snuck an animal in against your rules until after the fact. Even with cameras, it can happen; small animal carriers can look just like luggage.
Best of luck to you on this. Very interested to see the response from Airbnb once you remove any discriminatory language from your listing. Keep us posted, please.
This is the issue for a lot of people, service animals are well trained and covered under the ADA emotional support Lamas and cats are not. as seen here Air does what they want, forcing host to accept things even hotels would not. Ugh, I hope I never have to deal with this with an Air booking.
Apropos of nothing (much) I was in hospital a couple of weeks ago (minor op, outpatients, nothing bothersome) and joked to the staff that my (large) accompanying husband was my ‘emotional support buffalo’. Which made me wonder - are ESAs allowed in doctors’ offices or hospitals?
I suspect that this might be the only solution. Airbnb might have its rules but different CS reps seem to interpret them differently. Not letting the daughter go anywhere near the rental might be the safest solution for her too.
Yes, @jkamm would have to employ someone in her daughter’s place but there are probably some pretty capable people nearby who can help for a small fee - and much cheaper than a cleaning firm.
I have a couple issues with doing this. One, it will hurt my bookings because cleaners in this area are super expensive, so I will have to raise my price considerably. Two, one of the main reasons why we chose to do a vacation vs a long-term rental is so that when out-of-state family comes to visit, they can stay there. But that means that my family can’t visit them at the home.
I don’t think it is discriminatory language. I’ve said that we can’t accommodate service animals due to severe allergies, which is actually what Air customer service told me to put in the listing!!
Wouldn’t the guest be penalized for canceling, though? I can’t imagine that going over well with people.
ADA does NOT require businesses to accommodate ESAs, but some offices and hospitals do allow them.
From the ADA website:
Q3. Are emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals considered service animals under the ADA? A . No. These terms are used to describe animals that provide comfort just by being with a person. Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. However, some State or local governments have laws that allow people to take emotional support animals into public places.
My particular state (I am in the US) does not include ESAs in the laws regarding service animals.
I had this happen to me. Some other host who was not a competitor of mine reported me for age discrimation. I had to provide AirBnB with the company bylaws and insurance that state I cannot rent to anyone under 21 years of age per their rules to get cleared. I was floored by this one.
Do people really have so much free time that they feel the need to police other hosts? I find this shocking and really disappointing. I mean, I get that discrimination is a bad thing, but when are you getting reported for something that clearly is NOT discrimination, that is not okay. People need to mind their business.
That’s terrible. I have no problem hosting 18 year olds but if the insurance company, homeowners’ association or whatever insisted on 21+ then I’d have to abide by it. I imagine that most hosts who are okay having teenagers would be the same.
It just goes to show though how careful we have to be when posting online.
I’m a little puzzled by this question. A cornerstone of Airbnb policy is that it is fine for guests to cancel on hosts as often as they like, without any kind of penalty (well, except for a financial one) or even a record of it. On the other hand, it’s a Deadly Sin (the Eighth Deadly Sin, if you like), for a host to cancel on a guest. Though Airbnb in their infinite compassion may choose to grant absolution.
You see, it’s all about discrimination. As you can see from this thread, Airbnb is strongly opposed to discrimination, as is only right and proper.
Anyway, the bottom line is that if you can persuade your hypothetical guests with a service animal to cancel after explaining about your daughter’s allergies, you’re in the clear. And of course, in that case you would have to refund the guests all the money they paid, notwithstanding your cancellation policy.
I don’t recall you saying whether you are on IB or not. If you are going to stay on Airbnb, I certainly would go off IB unless or until this issue goes away.
Oh! I actually didn’t know that. So that might work for me to question every guest, although it will be a major pita. But also, even if I ask them directly, “Do you have a service animal?” they legally don’t have to answer the question… so I’m not sure how effective that would be.
I am on IB but will definitely rethink that if I get my listing reinstated. Do people still get a lot of bookings with IB turned off?