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AirBnB Overly Lenient "Service/Assistance" Animal Policy

Many of us have a No Pet policy but it seems that many pet owners simply claim that their pet is a “service” animal to ignore the policy and show up with an unannounced pet.
Upon reading the AirBnB “Assistance Animal Policy” it appears that a No Pet policy is unenforceable owing to AirBnB’s position on these animals.
Is there sufficient support among Hosts with No Pet policies to approach AirBnB in an attempt to have this overly lenient policy modified???
I understand AirBnB’s reasoning but it seems they have thrown us No Pet Hosts under the bus!

I doubt it. If you search the forum you will see many posts stretching back for years about this issue. You will also find many suggestions for trying to mitigate the impact with your own counter policies.

If it’s a shared space listing (they’re renting a room in your house) you don’t have to take either the fake “emotional support” animals or service animals. The Fair Housing Act in the US exempts owner occupied shared housing from the service dog rule, and Air’s rules let you not allow pets or kids in a shared listing.

If it’s not a shared listing, you CAN require that the animal not be left alone, and that it always stay with the person it’s “supporting”. Some hosts require that they be kenneled.

Air’s stupid animal rules are one reason why I would never have a full house rental.

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I have a stand alone house in the country and have a strict no pets policy. If someone shows up with an “ emotional support “ animal, I will follow the latest guidelines issues by the airlines and refuse entry to my house. The exception will be for licensed service dogs, i.e seeing eye dogs. I’m willing to battle them in court if necessary.

If you are an Airbnb host, you are required to follow Airbnb’s current published policies about emotional support and service animals. No matter what airlines do, you have already agreed to Airbnb’s terms of service. If you refuse to follow them, you may lose your account as a host.

I suggest that you read the TOS on this topic to make sure you understand what you have agreed to. https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/1869/what-is-an-assistance-animal

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I’m hoping Airbnb will align with the new DOT regulations regarding service animals.

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I’d be surprised, but I suppose it could happen someday. Airbnb’s regulations about service and emotional support animals have never aligned with any other organization’s policies, as far as I know.

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AirBnB has consistently written policy to maximize its profit and minimize its effort and I agree there is no reason why it will change. UNLESS a significant number of Hosts with legitimate reasons for a more strict No Pet policy voice that position nothing will change. This post is about exploring if such a concerted effort is possible and/or wise.

I think we all agree and support that those people with a legitimate need for a service animal should have their rights protected. The problem are those guests who do NOT have a legitimate need and simply ignore the Host’s No Pet policy because they can with impunity owing to AirBnB’s stated policy.

The vast majority of guests respect a Host’s stated policy (indeed, AirBnB allows them to filter by “Pets Allowed”) and simply find an alternative booking that allows pets. But a few can’t be bothered using the filter and do whatever they want. Against these inconsiderate few the Hosts need some recourse which is currently not even allowed, much less supported, by AirBnB.

All we are asking is that the inequality here be addressed, or at least discussed.

You are a bit naive if you don’t think thousands of hosts have sent feedback about this to Airbnb.

Like feedback about guests who’ve been called out during their stay for breaking house rules, throwing parties and those who have been charged for damages being allowed to leave a 1* retaliatory review, it falls on deaf ears.

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I agree with @muddy. With the number of hosts in the world, our opinions are a drop in the bucket. Airbnb seems far more likely to change policies if there is a clear path to profit from doing that. But, you know, you are of course free to express your opinion to Airbnb directly. I assume you know that this forum is not a channel to Airbnb. This forum is independent of Airbnb.

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As both an Airbnb host and a family that travels with a service dog, I can completely relate. When you travel with a service dog, you get to get up close and personal with more fraud dogs that you could believe.

When we travel with Airbnb, we always first inquire, letting the potential host know that we travel with a service dog. If the host doesn’t want to have him, then we don’t want to be there. Since my wife writes and teaches about service dogs to first responders, it is pretty easy for us to establish that this one isn’t a fraud.

However, as a host, I would be quite worried, especially when someone later adds “oh, it’s a service dog” after we have said no (we don’t allow pets, and our dog will never enter our Airbnb either).

There are a couple of things you can do. First, the two questions you legally can (and should) ask (in the USA, per ADA rules):

  1. Is the animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

Second, if you don’t believe it, watch the animal for a few key behaviors. If they aren’t following these, the chance of them actually being a service dog is really low:

1: Four on the Floor. A dog that isn’t on the floor isn’t able to perform most services. If they are being pushed around in a cart, they are almost certainly a pet.

2: Attention. A dog that isn’t always aware of its handler isn’t doing a job. Its almost certainly a pet. My favorite is a “service dog” on the far end of a 15’ retractable leash pulling like mad to get away with absolutely no awareness of the person on the other end. One caveat these days: now that we don’t go out much anymore, my wife’s dog doesn’t keep his training up like he should. It takes constant work to have a large dog simply disappear in a restaurant. I suspect others are having similar issues.

Some states now have penalties for service dog fraud. Hopefully more will follow.

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If only everyone with service dogs had your attitude.

The ones who insist on not having to disclose the service dog when they book (and I’ve read so many guest posts from guests like that) need to realize that it isn’t the hosts who don’t want to accept any animals at all, because they have had guests scamming about this, who are the bad guys, it’s the scammers who want to bring ill-trained Fluffy with them everywhere who make booking with a true service dog problematic.

Here’s what I don’t understand- wouldn’t it be beneficial to those with legitimate service dogs to demand some sort of official paperwork from the govt. or whatever entity that can be presented, that would assure hosts that this is really a service animal? Something that could be verified in some database so the scammers couldn’t just fake it or lie?

As stupid as this sounds, there is no such document or certification, and it’s illegal to ask for one. Why? Ask the folks that wrote the ADA, which was a ten year slog for the disabled community to get passed. The ADA does need updating.

That’s exactly what I mean. In an effort to protect the rights of the disabled, they’ve actually created a situation where it makes things more difficult for them.

I’ve seen people bragging online how they just borrowed their friend’s service dog vest so they could bring their non-service dog on the plane with them, or take it into a restaurant.

The fact is that it simply doesn’t matter what other associations, industries or organisations do - we all agreed to abide by Airbnb’s TOS when we signed up to advertise with them.

We can spend hours debating what Airbnb should do but no matter what happens there will always be people who take undisclosed animals to STRs, hotels, B & Bs or any form of accommodation.

Having hosted many, many dogs over the years I can truly say that I can’t remember ever having a dog (or cat or any other animal) that has caused more than an extra half hour or so extra cleaning time. (Hair mostly)

I find it easier to accept that pets will be sneaked in at some time regardless of any laws or TOS. That extra half hour cleaning will only happen a few times a year and it’s costed in anyway. It helps me in being a stress-free host. :slight_smile:

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On another matter related to what one might wish Airbnb would do – has anyone gotten restitution via a claim filed through the Fair Shake folks featured in the banner ad on the forum?

Sadly, SO many people take advantage of the concept of an emotional support animal, especially since there is no formal documentation to certify a service animal. We don’t allow pets at any of our 3 Airbnb’s but fortunately when we ask the 2 questions we are allowed to, most people back off. Just this week, a guest asked if we would allow a service dog and we said yes. He requested to book and we asked what tasks/services the dog is trained to assist him with at which time he clarified the dog works with him in a children’s hospital and helps the kids there. Very sweet but the service animal does not actually assist the guest. He knew he was being sneaky about the way he approached it and we contacted ABB who supported us in declining the guest and his pet.

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Yet another liar, trying to use Air’s bs policy to “have their PET with them”. How shocking!

Our new stay has a legit SHARED COMMON AREA - so … “sorry but no animals of any kind or for any reason”. Thanks have a nice day.

Many hosts with “entire place” could easily claim a shared area (i.e.: laundry room, whatever) -and not be specific - to Play the Game. Air’s policy has become entirely too well-known.
Time to stack the deck in our favor.

These excerpts from “Obligations Under the FHA and ADA: Do I Need to Allow Service & Assistance Animals in My Short-Term Vacation Rental?”

Does the FHA apply to short-term vacation rentals?

 Arguably, the FHA would not apply to most short-term vacation rentals because such rentals are typically “transient” in nature, and the property is not the “residence” of the occupant. However, such determinations should be made on a case-by-case basis. Some relevant factors in determining whether the property constitutes a “residence” subject to the FHA include: (1) the extent to which occupants treat the property like their own home by doing activities such as cooking and cleaning; (2) the length of time the occupant lives in the property; (3) the intent of the occupant to return to the property; (4) the absence of another residence; (5) the presence of common living areas such as a kitchen and living room; and (6) the nature of the occupancy. Id. Note that the length of the stay is not the single determinative factor.

Does the ADA apply to short-term vacation rentals?

 Again, there is no clear-cut answer and each situation should be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. Generally, if the accommodation is akin to a hotel, it will likely fall under the ADA.

 Individually-owned residential condominiums units are generally not considered “public accommodations” subject to the ADA Champlin v. Sovereign Residential Servs., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115274 (M.D. Fla). However, a condominium building may be considered a public accommodation if it is “virtually indistinguishable from a hotel.” Id. The Court in Champlin discussedAccess 4 All, Inc. v. Atlantic Hotel Condominium Association, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41600 (S.D. Fla.), in which a condominium building was in fact considered a public accommodation. In that case, there was no governing condominium association board, certain units were operated as hotel units, the governing documents defined the hotel units, a separate entity was retained to manage room reservations, and every unit owner had the option to include his or her unit in the rental program.

 An individually-owned condominium unit that is rented out as a short-term vacation rental of 30 days or less arguably does not fall under the ADA if the condominium building is not operated like a hotel.

As we are in a condominium community not in and of itself predetermined or set up as short-term rentals, and which is strictly governed by the HOA’s CC&R’s, we have to abide by their rules so we are protected I believe. The HOA does not allow for big dogs in short term rentals unless the prospective guests file the proper paperwork in advance and are approved by the HOA management to house the animal.

The FHA and the ADA are irrelevant when it comes to Airbnb. Airbnb has their own (more extensive) policy regarding service and assistance animals and, on Airbnb, it will precedence.

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