We are opening a brand new listing (our second) and our very first guest is bringing a service animal. I do not like dogs. My cleaners do not like cleaning up after pets. Our rules state “no pets.” So I definitely do not want our first review to mention how pet-friendly we are or anything of that kind. I should mention that since this is a service animal, of course we are going out of our way to welcome this guest and her dog. Is there a good way to ask her to leave any mention of her service animal out of the review?
When you write in the post-checkout/pre-checkout letter "I hope that when prompted by Airbnb you will leave a review for how my team and ai did (with any private feedback on we could have done better). "
And, please, while I hope you found us welcoming to [name of animal] I would hope that you not mention that because due to allergies we are not looking to attract guests with service animals."
I’m not sure there is.
No, don’t tell the guest you find them undesirable while asking for a favor/before getting a review.
I personally am not a fan of review requesting or coaching. I wouldn’t ask and I would advise you not to ask. I don’t think it’s likely that they will mention it. If they do it will eventually scroll away. If someone with a service animal sees it and thinks you’re a great place to stay, they are just as likely to be a good guest and someone without a service animal. You must not allow children since they can be just a bad as pets.
I’m really biased in favor of dogs so take my comments with a grain of salt but I simply don’t understand the strong dislike of pet guests. Dogs won’t smoke in the rental, steal anything, or turn on the AC and leave all the windows open. They won’t unplug the refrigerator and leave the freezer to defrost on your kitchen floor. The won’t burn a pizza in your oven, leave the door unlocked on check out or sneak in unauthorized guests.
All that said, you’ve conflated service animals and pets. Service animals are not pets. Any mention of a service animal in a review is irrelevant to the fact that yours is not a pet friendly listing.
I love dogs too but the combination of other guests not dealing well with pet hairs, smells, etc and that other guests simply want an animal free environment precludes me accepting them.
I DO have a strong dislike for guests who go against my house rules…
Look at previous reviews she has left and see if she routinely mentions her service dog. I, personally, would not say anything in an attempt to discourage it. It might anger her and backfire on you. I have never had a guest with a service animal mention them in their review.
There is not a good way. I doubt there’s an inoffensive way and technically, there is not even a non-discriminatory way
I don’t think there’s a neutral way to bring it up, really. I think if your listing clearly states no dogs allowed, that’s enough. No need to potentially cause tension by letting this gal know you didn’t want to host her and her service animal. You can always reply to her review if she does mention her service animal and mention you were happy to welcome her SERVICE ANIMAL despite being not pet friendly.
This is really delicate – and I expect you will get a full buffet-table of advice from the other hosts in this forum… not all of it pointing in the same direction. You’ll have to figure out what works best for you, but the whole reason you posed this question is because it is a tough call.
Here’s what I would be inclined to do in your situation:
avoid approaching the guest on something this sensitive in writing – if face-to-face is impossible, used Facetime or Zoom.
Start by saying that you are always happy to welcome service dogs into the space because it’s part of making the guests happy and because you can count on the dog being trouble-free because service dogs are all really well trained and never create problems for other guests on the grounds or for subsequent guests…
… but you cannot count on pets to be trouble-free in the same way, so the only dogs you welcome (don’t say “allow” – it’s like saying “tolerate”) are service dogs
… so “if you do decide to write a review and the review does mention <dog’s name>, please clarify to anyone reading the review that you are talking about your service dog. Other guests rely on reviews, and if you don’t make that distinction, they may unintentionally get the wrong impression.”
I guess "plan B"is to NOT have this conversation at all, and wait for the review… and if necessary jump in with a response that makes all the same clarifications as above
DON’T SAY A Word! Are you gonna ask me not to mention my blond hair in the review just because you don’t care for blonds?
Folks who require Service Dogs to stay alive already have enough on their plate and don’t need your comments. Treat them, and their dog, with the same respect you treat everyone else. Chances are when they check out, you will never even know there was a dog within a hundred yards of you place.
We had a guest who wrote as part of her review:
“We had a bit of a misunderstanding about our service dog initially, but everything ended up being totally fine.”
I wouldn’t usually ever contact a guest after they leave unless they became a friend, there was found damage or if they left something.
Since by law you cannot refuse service animals, I’d just expect to have a few now and then.
If she does then in your response to her review “Thanks for your lovely review Helen K. A reminder to future guests and people just looking that while we always welcome and respect service animals, we do not accept bookings for non-service pet dogs, cats, parrots or gerbils”.
No, the OP was not “making an exception.” Airbnb hosts in the US don’t have the option to refuse service animals. Service animals are not pets. Sending that message to a guest with a service animal is just letting the guest know that the host doesn’t understand Airbnb policies.
If the guest reports that to Airbnb, they will likely suspend the listing, as accepting service dogs is mandatory, except where local laws say otherwise.
I don’t necessarily want guests to mention in their reviews some extras I provide but don’t advertise, like that I offer to pick my guests up at the bus station, if that is how they are arriving, but I’ve never told them not to mention it.
And while some guests have indeed mentioned it, it was along the lines of “The host was so nice- she picked me up from the bus station and drove me back at the end of my stay”, which makes me sound like a host who goes the extra mile, rather than it being a service I offer to everyone.
No. Service animals aren’t pets. Service animals and their handlers are protected by Federal and in some cases state and local law. They are protected by Airbnb and other STR company policies. Your rules don’t trump the law.
Thanks for acknowledging our expertise. Just because you’ve never had issues doesn’t mean you’re right.
No, you seem unaware that service animals are not classified as pets. They are considered, by law, to be a necessary tool or device, like a crutch, or a wheelchair, that assists the disabled person to function and/or be safe.
You can make up any definitions you want, but you would lose in a court of law or with Airbnb if they suspended you.
The only exceptions to accepting true service animals are if you share space with guests and it would be unsafe to have an animal there, or you have health issues, i.e. allergies, which would make having an animal around a danger to you.
The reason is because you don’t want to give the impression that you as a host don’t understand the law and the policy. And you conflated pets and service animals in more than one post.
A lot of people read and lurk here. Comments made on this forum have appeared in the national press. It’s a public forum. We don’t want misinformation or comments that make hosts look uninformed to remain unchallenged. Sometimes posts with wrong information are just removed altogether for the protection of the host.
But your advice was for the OP to ask the guest not to mention the dog in the review as the host has “made an exception”. Our point is that saying that can get the host booted off Airbnb because they are implying that they don’t think they need to accept service animals and did it as a favor.
So, can I clarify the distinction between service animals and comfort animals, for my own benefit and to help with the confusion on the differences for other newer hosts?
My understanding at this point is that there are physical need service animals and psychiatric service animals. They are trained and cannot be refused unless the host property cannot accommodate them or due to health issues.
Comfort animals are classified as pets that provide emotional support. There might be a certification for this yet, still, they are not service animals protected by the ADA. They can be refused by the host and a pet fee can be charged. There can also be damages because they might poop in the house, eat furniture, etc. Damages would be handled through the resolution center.
A guest is supposed to notify the host if they are bringing a comfort animal and the host has the right to charge a pet fee or refuse the booking. If the host finds an animal in a clearly stated “No Pets” household, and the guest says they forgot to mention it, or they then provide a comfort animal certification, the host can charge a pet fee, terminate the booking, require they board the animal, or whatever else.
Is this accurate? I just had this come up and spent many hours trying to wrap my head around which is what, and what is legal, and what I should do. I want to avoid future problems by clearly & accurately stating in my house rules what I’m open to. Of course I have no problem with service animals. Comfort animals, not so much. And hopefully this will help clarify for others who aren’t sure or those who will come across this in the future.
Thank you for any feedback/corrections!
Airbnb no longer requires hosts to accept Emotional Support Animals, but some jurisdictions do and local law supercedes Airbnb policy. In the US, I think New York and California currently require acceptance of ESAs.
Thank you, muddy. I’ll get busy on my house rules.