It could be risky to say "no children" in your Airbnb listing

I recently saw these links shared on another host community group… people are getting sued for saying “no kids” or “no children” in their Airbnb listing.


Right…it’s really a serious problem that Airbnb has been making hosts vulnerable to being sued by offering hosts check-boxes where we can say that our listing is “not child friendly” or “may not be suitable for children.” Hosts can put themselves at risk for being sued just by checking off such boxes! And yet hosts will think, they either have to state yes, child friendly, or no, not child friendly – either choice gets them in trouble if they really dont’ want children or have a listing that has risks to children – such as delicate furniture.

I also find it exceptionally ironic that Airbnb leaders are bending over backwards to be non-discriminatory in some respects (eg with their new policy and new ways of “using technology” to snoop out who might be “discriminatory” ) yet at the very same time, they are knowingly putting hosts at risk by encouraging them to make discriminatory statements, regarding children at the listing.


And that goes back to my theory that the “anti-discrimination” campaign is just a front to justify why they need everyone on instant book. It’s nothing more than a reason to pad their bottom line. This way they can come back in a few months and state “Although hosts signed the community commitment, our testing shows that hosts are still discriminating; therefore, we are now forced to have everyone on instant book.”


I really agree, Cabinhost! I’ve thought that myself. If Airbnb’s goal is to essentially expropriate the properties of thousands of property owners around the world, and run a giant hotel chain by using other people’s property, there are very few things that would be as convenient for them toward this goal, than acting as though “discrimination” were some horrible, extremely widespread problem that required them to take massive action and ultimately require all hosts to use Instant Book.

The issue of children is the biggest problem in this whole plan (or nefarious plot, as the case may be.) Because if Airbnb can convince hosts that they are free to spell out all their house rules and requirements in advance, and states that only those who agree to them can Instant Book, then this can help sell Instant Book, or make it more palatable to many.

But once the lawsuit trolls get active and start suing people who state “no children” or “not child friendly” in their ads, then hosts can no longer specify this in advance, and instead, must utilize good old fashioned standard pre-rental screening and communication techniques, if they wish to not rent to guests with children. And out goes the possibility of IB if they have to do that.

So it stands to reason that Airbnb would downplay the risk of saying “no children” in one’s ad, since by pointing out the risks to doing this, they simultaneously demonstrate the limits of IB and why many hosts would not want to use IB.


And mark my words…in the mean time they will begin to penalize hosts for rejecting a certain number of booking requests, no matter if they are for legitimate reasons. People have reported having their accounts deactivated with Flipkey and VRBO because they weren’t able to convert enough travelers into confirmed reservations. It didn’t matter that the guests kept wanting to bring over the occupancy, or a pet in a no-pet home. Or the fact that an 18 year old wants to book for their 10 closest friends during spring break, and claims none of them drink alcohol. Sheesh!


We are all in desperate need of short term rental/subletting platforms that are more host-friendly. The increasingly hostile-to-hosts policies of some of these STR platforms make me think what we would have, if all the landlord-tenant laws in the nation were written by tenants, without regard for the needs or interests of property owners. I think that, unfortunately, people’s desperation to do short term rentals, and get guests, regardless of the costs or compromises to hosts, is not beneficial for us as a community.


I just checked child friendly when I read this. Shocking. Some bottom-feeder low life is trawling hosts across the country and filing federal lawsuits! I also altered my description. This is scary stuff. And I imagine because these are federal lawsuits, he can file against a host in any state. Wow. Thanks Forestprite, for bringing this to our attention!

Maria Maria
Level 2in United States
‎09-30-2016 11:10 AM


I found out that there are many, many other people being sued around the US by the same individual, and for the same reason - a 'violation of the Fair Housing Act.

As you can see on the link below, one other person posted about this:

The person who answered the phone on Airbnb when I first learned of the lawsuit agains me, told me that ‘this is a matter between you and your lawyer’, she only agreed to contact the legal department after I insisted. Nevertheless, I was not allowed to speak to any one in the legal department, the lady said only that she had ‘notified’ them about my case. I got an email confirming that, and that was all, they made no further contact with me.

I feel I am being sued - and for the first time in my life, as I am a law-abidding person - because or Airbnb careless policy allowing people to click yes or no on the item ‘children under 12’. That was all I did. I now know that this is a violation of the Fair Housing Act, I had no idea. Airbnb legal department must know it is a violation, and I am sure those lawyers are paid good money to know the laws regarding rental of properties in the US.

Because of their oversight, there are dozens of people like me being sued.

Technically, every host on Airbnb can be sued as well, for the same reasons. Be careful with that yes or no buttom, it may cost you a lot!

Really upsetting…



I tell you Kona…it crossed my mind when I first read about this on Homeaway forum. I thought to myself…well I could file lawsuits against all people in my area and force them to settle, take a cut of the settlement, and then eventually have enough money to buy a house in cash. But Naahh… How could I sleep at night?


How does this part factor in? (bold and italics are mine)

What are the laws for roommates and shared housing?

Federal Fair Housing laws for roommates and shared housing have two components: advertising and decision-making.

Advertising: Federal Fair Housing laws prohibit discriminatory advertising in all housing, regardless of how large or small the property. However, as discussed below, advertising which expresses a preference based upon sex is allowed in shared living situations where tenants will share a bathroom, kitchen, or other common area.

Decision-making: Although the prohibition on discriminatory advertising applies to roommate and shared housing situations, federal Fair Housing laws do not cover the basis of decisions made by landowners who own less than four units, and live in one of the units. This means that in a situation in which a landlord owns less than four rental units, and lives in one of the units, it is legal for the owner to discriminate in the selection process based on the aforementioned categories, but it is illegal for that owner to advertise or otherwise make a statement expressing that discriminatory preference.


But note, with IB, there is no decision-making.

The way this factors in, is that, as the links I shared indicate, it is ILLEGAL to state “not child friendly” or “no children” in one’s advertising or communicating about renting a space…

BUT…it is LEGAL to refuse to rent to families with kids, in the decision making process, if you are a [quote=“smtucker, post:10, topic:9446”]
landowners who own less than four units, and live in one of the units.[/quote]

Exactly as summarized here: the distinction between advertising/communication and decision making:

[quote=“smtucker, post:10, topic:9446”]This means that in a situation in which a landlord owns less than four rental units, and lives in one of the units, it is legal for the owner to discriminate in the selection process based on the aforementioned categories, but it is illegal for that owner to advertise or otherwise make a statement expressing that discriminatory preference.

There are quite a number of people, as well as attorneys, who sleep very well knowing that they’ve stolen other people’s money – I think they have a lot in common with all criminals that way…and I’d put them in teh same category, essentially. People who exploit a system and abuse it, are criminals, even if what they do is totally legal, which these lawsuits are. It’s basically a case of the legal system itself encouraging and aiding and abetting criminal behavior – legalized extortion.


Craigslist does do a great job of addressing the discriminatory advertisement laws. But they do leave out much of the law as to who is exempt. I also think in Air’s case they “could” be considered to be acting as role of “broker” - and therefore, all hosts advertising on Air would be excluded from the “Mrs. Murphy exemption.”

(b)Nothing in section 804 of this title (other than subsection ©) shall apply to–

(1) any single-family house sold or rented by an owner:

Provided, That such private individual owner does not own more than three such single-family houses at any one time:

Provided further, That in the case of the sale of any such single-family house by a private individual owner not residing in such house at the time of such sale or who was not the most recent resident of such house prior to such sale, the exemption granted by this subsection shall apply only with respect to one such sale within any twenty-four month period:

Provided further, That such bona fide private individual owner does not own any interest in, nor is there owned or reserved on his behalf, under any express or voluntary agreement, title to or any right to all or a portion of the proceeds from the sale or rental of, more than three such single-family houses at any one time:

Provided further, That after December 31, 1969, the sale or rental of any such single-family house shall be excepted from the application of this subchapter only if such house is sold or rented

(A) without the use in any manner of the sales or rental facilities or the sales or rental services of any real estate broker, agent, or salesman, or of such facilities or services of any person in the business of selling or renting dwellings, or of any employee or agent of any such broker, agent, salesman, or person and

(B) without the publication, posting or mailing, after notice, of any advertisement or written notice in violation of section 804© of this title; but nothing in this proviso shall prohibit the use of attorneys, escrow agents, abstractors, title companies, and other such professional assistance as necessary to perfect or transfer the title, or

**(2)**rooms or units in dwellings containing living quarters occupied or intended to be occupied by no more than four families living independently of each other, if the owner actually maintains and occupies one of such living quarters as his residence.

**©**For the purposes of subsection (b) of this section, a person shall be deemed to be in the business of selling or renting dwellings if–

(1) he has, within the preceding twelve months, participated as principal in three or more transactions involving the sale or rental of any dwelling or any interest therein, or

(2) he has, within the preceding twelve months, participated as agent, other than in the sale of his own personal residence in providing sales or rental facilities or sales or rental services in two or more transactions involving the sale or rental of any dwelling or any interest therein, or

(3) he is the owner of any dwelling designed or intended for occupancy by, or occupied by, five or more families.

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My listing is for a room in my home and it is “adult only”. I do not believe act applies to my situation.

As is summarized in the messages above, renting a room in your own home, you very likely can decline guests with children, but it’s still illegal for you to advertise the place as “adults only” or to say “no children.” Nobody but nobody in the USA is permitted to make such “discriminatory statements.”, according to the FHA.

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I have read all of this, but it doesn’t clarify for me if I am renting a bedroom in my own home, with me in residence, how much of these laws apply to my situation.

I’d disagree there – I don’t think Air would be viewed as a broker. We haven’t seen any clear statements/legal decisions (that I am aware of) which would clarify this, but from what I recall reading about what a broker is, I had the sense they wouldnt’ qualify. This is just my opinion though – I could be wrong – I’d really like some legal clarification on this. We may get that too, because there are many lawsuits Airbnb is involved in which it seeks exemption from various liability for illegal listings or content, based on the Communication Decency Act. I think that whether or not it’s perceived as a broker is significant to whether the CDA will apply.

Oops… I meant to say “could” be considered, and not “would” be considered - typo…I’ll edit it. Yes, I haven’t come across any case law that addresses this. but I did read something recently about vacation rental owners being sued (I think it was for service dog?) and the plaintiff didn’t win. I will see if I can find it.

But I could see courts interpreteing Air as a broker. Of course the “intent” of the law was to address human brokers since there was no internet then. But when you look up the definitions of what could be considered a broker:


  1. an agent who buys or sells for a principal on a commission basis without having title to the property.
  2. a person who functions as an intermediary between two or more parties in negotiating agreements, bargains, or the like.
  3. stockbroker

The area that seems to be grey is that most Air hosts do not rent out “housing,” in the longer-term sense of the word? I guess careful wording is key. As the hosts stated, this guy just filed suit. He didn’t even enquire. He somehow found their listing address by stalking, along with their first and last name. What a predator!

From my understanding, the intent of the law was to address whites discriminating against blacks - for the basic right of having a roof over their head.

It’s been quite some time since I read all the details - but from what I recall…the section that addresses owners owning no more than 3 single - family homes is also know as the “vacation home” provision. This was a compromise in order to pass the bill. I “think” the Mrs. Murphy section only initially addressed the “Mrs. Murphy” who is running a boarding house, and she should be exempt. But then others brought up their “summer homes” and gave reasons as to why they should also be able to discriminate. So I believe the law then added this “vacation home” provision to mimic the original Mrs. Murphy exemption.

I believe familial status only became a protected class in 1988. I am not certain of all the amendments that have taken place since the orignial bill was signed.

But I did read the actual newspaper article where they were debating about rights of vacation home owners. I will try to find it. It was very interesting.