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

Me too…although I rarely get anyone with a baby enquire. Just knowing this crackpot could reach across all fifty states and look for hosts with the boxes checked and file suit. I think sometimes Air is a victim of their own popularity with bottom feeders taking advantage of hapless, naive hosts.

I agree Anikka that the problem is alarming – however keep in mind it isn’t Air that is prohibiting you from saying you don’t want kids…(in fact Air is allowing folks to say that when really they should warn hosts about the risks of making such statements in a listing…). It’s the US law that is the problem, rather than Airbnb. It’s one of many laws that are unfortunately being applied to situations where they should not be applied…an exception should exist for those doing short term rentals, sublets, or rentals of furnished property, rooms in their home or renting of their own primary residence, where it can reasonably be argued that one should very much be allowed to say “no children”!!! And emphatically, at that.

On the positive side, even though on the “bookings” section of the listing, the box that you check says “suitable for children” or “suitable for infants” and you can only check yes or no, if you go to view your listing, how this info shows up for guests, you can breathe a sigh of relief and see that AIr has changed it to say “may not be safe or suitable for children.” Very likely while they were doing all the nondiscrimination research, they realized the problem of encouraging hosts to make discriminatory statements like this in their listings, so they watered down the statement so that it’s no longer really a discriminatory statement – it comes across more as a notification about the nature of the listing. The changing of “not suitable” to “may not be suitable” I think helps a lot.

I’m just hoping that enough angry property owners eventually develops into a movement to change some of these laws.

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Do any of you really believe that Airbnb. or any business in the US, is welcoming this can of worms concerning discrimination? This is the Achilles Heel people of doing business in the US. And the bigger you are, meaning the more successful you are, the more money frivolous lawsuits tend to extract (settle out of court), and the more you will be targeted. No one sues a poor man, because there is nothing to get.

Airbnb is not going through this whole exercise for kicks, it is because they are under pressure to comply with a million stopgap laws that make no sense, and are impossible to follow to everyone’s satisfaction.

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This still may not be enough to keep that nutcase from filing suit for discrimination.

True…but then he has many targets. He can file about a half a million lawsuits.

Yes, it’s a rather disgusting aspect of doing business in the US. Recently I heard someone, a famous person, who I wont’ name because some people become apoplectic at hearing the name (hint: he’s rich – in fact – he’s REALLY rich…) , say essentially this: “I dont’ settle lawsuits, because if you settle, you get sued. I never settle.”

Well, he was wealthy enough so that he had that choice. Most of us aren’t wealthy enough to have that choice, or, as property owners who are sued, we’re covered by an insurance company (hopefully) who makes that choice for us, and insurance companies do tend to settle. In fact often they settle almost as soon as they get served with the lawsuit, so that their readiness to settle invites people to sue those so insured. They expect that for the cost of a filing fee they can expect a multi-thousand dollar check in the mail. And they get it.

That’s why IMHO we need some serious reforms to the legal system.

I appreciate the clarification forestsprite, and thanks for calming me down:)
I am going to keep those boxes checked for now, it just doesn’t make sense to say our home is child and infant friendly when it isn’t! I’m wondering though if I should take out that house rule I mentioned, as there is definitely no grey area in a rule I wrote myself which explicitly states that people should not book with us if they are traveling with children…

I would definitely take out that house rule.

What I recommend you and all hosts do who don’t want guests with children, is require that before they book, guests tell you exactly who will be coming – list the full names and ages of every human being and animal being they intend to bring along. Only stuffed teddy bears don’t count as guests – everyone else needs to be named. You then limit them so that once they state these names/ages, they cannot later add more, and any additional folks who show up, will not be admitted.

And once someone clarifies that they intend to bring people under a certain age, you just decline.

Just took out the rule and breathed a sigh of relief, ha! Your advice sounds good, could you clarify exactly how I go about requiring that info? I have IB, would I need to turn that off?

It also just occurred to me that asking for people’s ages could be considered discriminatory…

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@Anikka In ~1982~ Ronald Reagan got very active to tackle tort law to address the ‘legal hostage situation’, the effort went nowhere (73% of Congress were lawyers); so the cycle continues: if you don’t settle it will cost in absolute terms 10x more, if you settle it will invite even more frivolous lawsuits, a vicious circle.

Then you have the supreme ‘oddball’ (BMW - German company) who refused to play into the game; who was sued for one of its customers for repainting one of its cars by a dealer because it got scratched in transit. EVERY company in the US told them to settle (million of dollars), they said No Way. The case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, before it got thrown out.

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Yes, you have to turn off IB, or you wont’ be able to screen guests. This is part of why I think Airbnb isn’t being honest with hosts about the problems they could face by having a house rule that says no kids. Airbnb wants hosts to all use IB so it wanst hosts to think that they can all use IB because they can get exactly the guests they want using house rules. Well no, because the law is clear, there are things you can’t just come right out and say…but …you can still use info you get to decline.

When a guest contacts you saying hi I am interested in staying at your place, you could start engaging them in conversation, asking them what attracted them to your listing, whether they have read the listing and house rules, whether they have any questions, and then you could say, “for liability purposes my insurance company requires I have a full list of all guests who will be staying…I need to get the full names and ages of all the people who would be attending, including any children.”

. If they say fine we’ll get that to you after we book, we don’t know exactly who is coming yet, you tell them that it’s important you know exactly who would be coming before you can accept the reservation, to “make sure we’re on the same page”. Or something like that. You can tell them that once they give you the list of who is coming and once you accept their reservation, you “can’t guarantee” that they would be able to change the guest list and keep the reservation.

Another thing you could do is just come right out and ask if they intend to bring any children or infants. IF they say yes, you decline, but don’t say why. The problem with this approach is that though at the time of booking they might say no, that they dont’ plan to bring a child, they might show up with one when they arrive. ANd then you’re in the awkward position of needing to state that they can’t stay because they have a child…which is the worst position to be in from the standpoint of what you could get sued over.

However…another idea would be, to state in your house rules that for liability reasons, guests must let you know in advance (at the time of booking) if they intend to bring children or infants, and if they show up with children or infants without telling you about this in advance, the reservation will not be honored.

Then, if they tell you in advance that they plan to bring children, you could decline them. IF they dont’ tell you and bring children anyway, you can turn them away at the door, stating that they violated the house rule that children must be declared at the time of booking.

There really aren’t any easy or totally straightforward ways to do this. It’s a whole new problem…


By the way…to demonstrate how the lawsuit trollers could find their “victims”…

I just searched these terms on Google “Airbnb, city name, no children” and I found several potential “victims”. Hosts whose Airbnb listings said “no children” or “no children under 14” or “sorry, no children.” I won’t post the links here since this forum is public and a troll could take them from here and victimize them. But this is just to demonstrate how the trolls could use Google search or any search engine to locate their victims.

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Interesting. As I said, because he’s filing federal suits, this troll can reach across all 50 states. My listing is now changed. Thanks forest. :smiley:

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Many posters here seem to have overlooked that Airbnb made every host and guest agree to a Binding Arbitration Clause. This means that they cannot be sued.

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Thanks Ellen that’s a great reminder. However, these Airbnb hosts in the links provided in the original post, HAVE been sued – perhaps the problem is, they weren’t sued by Airbnb guests?. And while Airbnb can help us as hosts by requiring binding arbitration in disputes between Airbnb hosts and Airbnb guests, I don’t know if they can help us this way if some random troll who isn’t actually an Airbnb guest and who doesn’t intend to use Airbnb, finds our listing and sues us simply over the language in the ad. It’s not clear to me if the requirement to use binding arbitration appies for that situation…if it does, the fact that hosts are being sued anyway, shows that hosts may end up having to pay legal expenses for suits that end up being thrown out.

Perhaps then it would be just like Airbnb who has the binding arbitration policy for itself and got sued anyway by Greg Seldens’ class action race discrimination lawsuit – a lawsuit that this week was thrown out. But it was not thrown out until Airbnb’s lawyers both filed an answer and a motion to dismiss. So there was legal expense involved just to get the darn thing thrown in the garbage that should never have been filed anyway since Airbnb’s terms of service bar such lawsuits. Which I am thinking could be the fate of hosts who are put in the same boat by the lawsuit scammers and trolls.

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Thanks for those suggestions, greatly appreciated. Just when I thought I had everything organized and running smoothly, this idiotic issue pops up!! :roll_eyes:

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I think what @EllenN was saying is that AIRBNB can’t be sued, either by hosts or guests. There is nothing stopping guests from suing hosts, hosts from suing guests, outsiders from suing hosts, and so on.

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Correct. I was commenting on all of the posters who believe that Airbnb’s Anti Discrimination Policy is aimed at preventing lawsuits. Yes, guests and hosts can sue each other, unless we start making one another sign binding arbitration clauses. Before everyone jumps on me, that was sarcastic. I know that Airbnb hosts and guests don’t have the resources to pay for arbitration. As I’ve stated many times, unless there was grievous damage and a defendant who had a lot of money, no attorney will accept the lawsuit. Here is an article that addresses the stereotype that Americans sue at the drop of a hint. Also, I highly recommend watching the documentary, Hot Coffee, which you can get on Nexflix as a DVD. Unfortunately they aren’t streaming it any more. It addresses the negative consequences of the view that lawsuits are out of control.

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I’m not sure I understand your post Ellen – the link I provided in my original post shows clearly that there are Americans who sue, and sue vexatiously at that, at the drop of a hint and less. There are many cases like this – I personally know several property owners and business owners who have been victimized by frivolous or meritless suits, or suits filed by people who arguably suffered no injury whatsoever.

I see your point, as clarified in the link you provided, that there are many lawsuits which ARE valid, and I wouldn’t disagree. Our legal system doubtless works very well for many people with legitimate disputes. Unfortunately it also works exceptionally well for those with meritless or frivolous complaints.

I do have it stated in my house rules, that any guests who contract with me by making a reservation, agree to mandatory binding arbitration in the case of a dispute. I suggest other hosts add that to their house rules as well. The reason for having that is that, whereas it costs nothing for a guest to sign up a sleazy attorney to take their case on contingency and sue you over absolute trivia or false allegations, it WILL cost a guest to enter into binding arbitration. So requiring binding arbitration is a deterrent against meritless legal action.