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Dogs Again..newbie needs your help

I am a newcomer. I am trying to soak up as much as I can from reading these boards.

We anticipate opening our place in May.

It is our vacation home… we will live here six months a year in Mississippi, and use it as an Airbnb six months a year.

I am a retired professional boarding kennel operator, dog trainer, and groomer.

I presently on two dogs and two cats.

My home is about 2500 ft.², 3+ bedrooms.

I think we are not going to take dogs, I know for certain no cats….

I should also explain, that we own 15 rental properties in the state of Pennsylvania so I have experience with renting long-term. In those properties we allow dogs with extra fees, but this year we have stopped renting to cats because of excessive damage.

In the past when I advertised for long-term renters, I’ve had several people mention that they had ESD, and I dodged a bullet by renting to others. The reason I did this is because I find that most people I hate to say it are fakers…and BUY the title on line.

Am I making a mistake by not taking dogs? And if I say I am not taking dogs, will I be in trouble if someone says they have an ESD or service dog and I do not allow it? Or does the law say on this take these? As I said I am a newbie and I am not sure about the Airbnb business as we have not opened yet.

I appreciate you guys so much, and your mentorship.

I am not sure if I’m going to be hiring a company or to run things or doing this myself. I’m trying to do it myself, it will be hard because I live in New Jersey and my place will be in Mississippi. I already have a cleaner lined up and a maintenance man.

Presently with my long-term rentals, I lived in the next state and do most of it through the Internet. I’m experienced at doing credit checks etc. myself.

Thank you all for taking time to read my entry

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If you look at the Airbnb Help Centre it covers Airbnb’s policies including it’s policy on hosts having to accept service animals including those who are termed emotional support animals.

If you are hosting remotely you will need a local cleaner and co-host.

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I click on no pets on the listing and I mention it again in the house rules. I also add a note that due to severe allergies we don’t allow pets.

However, some folks have booked with dogs claiming that they’re emotional support and Airbnb supported them. They don’t have to tell the host that they have an emotional support pet.

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Fortunately I have a home share so Airbnb lets me reject all dogs even ESDs. My understanding is that if you have a free standing place, you don’t have that luxury.

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Most members of this forum don’t take dogs, I do. I also have an in home dog boarding business so I know what damage dogs are capable of. I charge $15 per day per pet (I’ve also hosted cats and bunnies) but give discounts for multiple days or pets. I do this because I like hosting the kind of folks who travel with their pets. I think it gives me a little advantage and I make more money. Over the years I’ve increasingly made the room pet friendly by removing the curtains and carpet. But the key is, it’s just a small ensuite room and it’s attached to my home. Most of my guests are one nighters passing through.

I’ve hosted 100s of guests with pets and had two problems. One woman’s dog had diarrhea. She cleaned as best she could with what she had and informed me right away, offered to pay for professional carpet cleaning and paid up same day. I hosted her again on her return trip. It was shortly thereafter that I removed the carpet. The other was guy in the military here for a month and his dog chewed a wood drawer handle, ripped open a new packaged blanket in the closet, chewed up the plunger handle and maybe some other stuff I didn’t discover. The guy left me $250 and checked out 10 days early, so that was also an okay experience.

If I owned a large vacation home, and it sounds like yours is nice, I wouldn’t accept dogs unless I had a competent co-host and a substantial pet deposit.

As Ritz pointed out, they don’t even have to tell you about an emotional support animal in advance so there’s not too much point in getting all wound up about it. The kind of person who gets a fake card will probably also not tell you about the dog. There are other platforms like VRBO that don’t force you to allow ESAs. You could also rent via your own website.

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Yes, as explained above, guests can not be denied if they bring an ESA or Service Dog to your place, nor can you charge more but what you can say is that since it’s a ESA then the dog can not be left alone in the unit when they are not there. This will really discourage them.

I actually have a legit ESA dog but can no long fly with him because too many people took advantage of it. He’s too big for the cabin and I won’t check him.

Also, make sure you have real home owner/commercial insurance for your airbnb. Do not rely on the Airbnb host guarantee. It’s a joke. If you don’t properly insure your place, if there is damage, your home owner’s insurance can and will drop you and refuse to pay your claim. In my state there are no insurers so I have buy Proper insurance at 3 times the cost of my regular home owners insurance.

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ESA Animals. I have had emotional support animals most of my adult life, even before lawyers came up with the term, Emotional Support Animal. Most pets ARE emotional support animals. But I don’t throw that term around so that I can fly my pet free or dodge fees that a responsible pet owner should pay. Really…pet owners should take responsibility. There is no difference in poop, urine, or damage from an ESA or regular pet. Own up people.

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I wouldn’t be surprised if some of my guests with dogs were ESAs but they didn’t tell me and didn’t try to take advantage. It’s no different than any other sort of guest, some are better than others. I’d rather have dogs here than toddling humans.

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Anyone think I should be talked off the ledge? I am considering switching to pet friendly. I lost one dog in 2020 and the other one this year. I would like to see doggos bounding around the backyard again.

And this way I don’t have to take care of them, find dogsitters when I travel, or have them in the main house making me sneeze and wheeze (I’m allergic, sigh).

Downsides are some dogs (including my granddog) are hair-shedding machines, indoor dog pee would get into the hardwood floors, guests with allergies would avoid me, more cleanning and occasional more significant destruction, and if they left the dog alone too long or the dog was distressed, I would go nuts on them.

I am in favor.

Some people like @CatskillsGrrl tell people they can’t leave the dog alone too long. I can’t recall what her limit is. Or you might also offer doggy day care for people who want to be out at the DC sights for long hours.

Yes, it can be more work but it can also be more money. And for every allergy sufferer who avoids you there will be someone traveling with their pet that books you.

As I said, maybe consider adding dog boarding to your bag of tricks. You can limit to certain sizes or only one dog or dog family at a time. Rover dot com makes it easy to get started in the business just as Airbnb made it easy to get into hospitality.

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Bear in mind that Air does not cover pet damage. Air via their “normal process” does not even take any security deposit and guests usually have to ADMIT to damage to be charged.
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It is good that you are doing your homework and being prepared well before opening. Like you, we are long-time landlords in PA.
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There seems to be an allowance for hosts to directly collect security deposits when they are “software connected” (uses any channel manager or API). You may wish to look into this, especially as you will be remote from your stay. A really good reliable cleaner is essential. Cameras also (must be disclosed properly).
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A solid set of house rules is recommended. I would also recommend that you validate the entire booking party with full name, address, age and use “As Required By Insurance”. The latter is powerful and can not be overridden or challenged by Air.
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Good luck!

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Ha! Just a week or so ago I got this message with a booking request, and I do IB, so something was up: “We are coming with our mini. She is well behaved!”
I said I was sorry to have to ask, but was Mini a dog or a baby? If a dog, okay, as they do well here, but if a baby, I’d have to get them to withdraw the request, since, as they will have read, we are not safe or suitable for children. (We truly aren’t. There are many ways to get broken, swept away, or eaten here if you are a toddler.)
Mini was a toddler. Mummy was unimpressed with me and claimed she had no way of knowing the place was unsuitable until I wrote to say we would take dogs and not children.
Did I realize how ridiculous I sound?
Yes.
Could they come anyway?
No.

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  1. Strke one: toddler.
  2. Strike two: parents call their kid their mini.

I’m so glad it ended when it did, because,

  1. Strike three: but it’s an emotional support toddler!!
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Especially when you point out that only some housing and Airbnb hosts must allow ESAs, which comes from the Fair Housing laws. But, and this will get them for sure, public places like stores, restaurants, museums, beaches, parks, galleries, festivals, ferries, bars, salons, performance venues, historical site, etc, etc do not fall under the Fair Housing laws. They only have to adher to the ADA which is actual service dogs and service mini-horses only.

Seriously, if you don’t want an ESA, whatever kind of animal it is, tell your guests that they cannot leave it in the listing (true, Airbnb rules) and that they can’t take them most places since they are only ESAs and not a service dog or service mini horse. Most folks who get the ESA certificate online just to skirt the system, will not know this and should. The companies selling the ESA certificates don’t mention this, for obvious reasons.

So, yeah, I’m guessing those three cats/dogs aren’t as emotionally important as you just told me they were :wink: Also, I can refer you to several hosts that will welcome your cats and we are dog friendly, so there was no reason to make it weird.

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Air says right up front that emotional support animals cannot be left alone in the rental. I’m sure glad that I have enough shared space that I don’t have to take them because of my allergies.

And if they need the animal for “emotional support” they should have the animal with them at all times.

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Legally you can’t decline people with service animals because that’s discriminatory against people with disabilities. They don’t have to inform you, and my impression is many don’t because discrimination is the norm, not the exception.

Allowing pets in general, it really depends on your situation. I rent a month minimum and allow pets - mostly dogs. I charge more for cleaning, no same day turnovers, and get the carpets professionally cleaned every couple months. The majority of my guests are either house shopping or remodeling, or grandparents visiting to welcome a new baby. So they’re not leaving the dogs alone much. I also limit it to small/ medium dogs.

With a vacation home… I wonder if you get more local people if you allow dogs? we try to take our dog when we travel locally, but get a pet sitter otherwise. Pre-dog, I would look for listings that didn’t allow pets because the dander bothers me- so if you have four pets there half the year but a no pet rule you should disclose that, imo.

There are NO other options that allow pets in my area, so I generally book up within a week of opening dates and am currently booked through May 2022. People will pay a premium to have their dogs with them, at least if that option is hard to find.

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I used to state “dogs welcome,” thinking that no one would consider booking a room this far out from city center. After two bad experiences, I stopped that.

Now I explain in the description that our full-size collie is a herder/chaser plus territorial, so my rooms are not suitable for small children. Then I state the same dog info in the house rules for guests with service or emotional-support dogs, plus that they are to stay between their dog and mine at all times. It seems to be working–no dogs since!

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I am pet friendly and have only had one negative experience (owner caused). Owner left dog to bark all day without making arrangements to take her out, and lied to say she was on her way back when I messaged to say her pet was in distress. I love helping people create wonderful vacations for their friends & families, and I know the heartache & expense of boarding a pet. I haven’t had anything negative, yet, with cats, either, but we’ll see. I interact with guests quite a bit before booking to make sure we are a good fit so this may have helped to avoid problems. It is an added expense due to the extra diligence necessary when cleaning (I don’t understand those who don’t think extra cleaning is required). I still am glad to do it. I’ve adapted the property and my rules, as I’ve learned and grown, to minimize issues. I charge a nominal additional fee.

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We accept cats happily and have never had any problems with guest cats. We also travel with our cat and are invariably grateful when we find a pet friendly rental. However we also take our own duvet so we don’t have to be concerned about the cat getting on the bed.

I discovered this ‘trick’ when I had a guest with four cats - and her own bedding.

We also accepted dogs for many years until the HOA decided on a no-dogs ruling. Both our rentals though have tiled floors, leather sofas and nothing that pets can damage so I love hosting pets and over the years we’ve had all shapes and sizes of dogs.

We don’t have an extra fee for pets because, for the reasons mentioned above, I’ve never found the need for extra cleaning.

The good thing about accepting pets is that guests are generally pleased to find a host that will take them. I used to put out dog bowls, dog treats, a dog bed and rolls of little plastic bags and that could be one reason why I always had 5 star reviews from pet-owning guests - they felt that their animals were as welcome as they were.

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Just change House Rules to require that animals can’t be left alone in the unit.

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