Service Dogs Left Alone in Vacation Rental House

Under the ADA, are service dog disabled handlers allowed to leave their dogs alone for hours in a vacation rental property? There is no one else in or on the premises - no owner, caretaker or other. The property is a house and renter rents the entire house. It seems to me that if the dog is truly a service dog that the disabled person would have the dog with them when they go out for hours at a time, yet we’ve had a renter who left two dogs alone in the house for hours while they went out mountain biking and hiking. We have outdoor cameras so we saw them leave with bikes and hiking equipment. They left the dogs.

If I recall correctly, under the terms of service, service animals are NOT to be left alone. I suspect they’re really pets and guests lied about them being service animals. Most likely they’re “emotional support” animals and registration is easily done online. Once they check out take pictures of any damage done by their pets and submit to Airbnb ASAP.


If they were left alone they most definitely are not legitimate service dogs, which are always with their handler. It would also be extremely unusual for anyone to have two service dogs.

And you no longer need to accept emotional support animals at all, unless you live in NY or Calif, I think. And even ESAs are not to be left alone.

So your guests are liars. If you have a no pets listing, make sure to call them out in the review.

And its also pretty weird for even a pet dog to be left alone when people go biking and hiking. That is exactly the type of activity most dog owners would take their dog along on, because dogs love that stuff.

Hopefully their dogs weren’t destructive. My dog, who passed away this fall, was calm and could be left alone inside and just slept, waiting for my return.


And give them a thrashing in the review.


This is from the US Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights section, regarding ADA rules.

“Are hotel guests allowed to leave their service animals in their hotel room when they
leave the hotel?
A: No, the dog must be under the handler’s control at all times.”

That would certainly seem to be applicable to Airbnbs, also, if it were taken to court.


I have a legitimate Service Dog. I can only wonder why someone who needs one would go anywhere without their SD. Mine is trained to not take treats or respond to petting by strangers, hence the “Do not pet me or engage with me, I’m working” patch on her working vest. I do go without my SD if my husband is there to help. He’s often referred to as my SD but has not been offered a treat by anyone :smiley:


You bring up a good point that the service dog may not be needed if someone is accompanying the dog owner who can help with the situations usually detected or responded to by the dog. Regardless of the law or policy, a guest should ask if this is OK out of pure courtesy. Some people seem to assume that the dogs will do damage. If not, I might be kinder in the review. It would certainly hurt their following house rules rating. Sometimes when there is not good communication prior to a problem stay, but no horrible consequence, I just talk with the guests or point out the issue in the private comments.

Thank you for all replies. We have outdoor cameras so we can see if renters are violating policies, and we immediately advise our property manager so he can address it with the renters and/or the booking platform. The PM lists our property on multiple internet platforms so we don’t know which one this renter went through. We will be asking him. Our PM is very reluctant to address our concerns with renters as I expect he is concerned about his reviews on the booking sites. I would like to be able to check the platforms but because we are technically not the booking platform host for our house and our PM is, we have no way of knowing what he’s done to notify the platform of renter issues, including blocking this renter from future rentals of our property. We’re looking at our options for our property. You’ve all been very helpful. I just started using Airhosts forum and so glad for it. Does anyone know if other booking platforms have similar host forums? Also, I’d like to be able to see the platforms’ rental policies. Is there a way to see these even though we don’t manage our own rentals?

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Is your property pet friendly ?

Your property manager needs to get their big boy pants on and sort it out.

How long are they there for?

As soon as you saw this happen the property manager should have been in touch with them to remind them as a service animal it must be with the owner at all times .

And confirm that if it happens again they will need to leave.

The reviews should be in your name - not the property managers - it’s your STR business


Our property is listed on platforms as no pets and no smoking. I agree that our PM needs to just do the job he’s being paid to do. These renters were there for three nights, thank goodness. Our PM tries to scare us about the ADA. He has repeatedly complained about our outdoor cameras. We’ve told him cameras are not negotiable and will stay. He makes excuses that there will always be renters who cheat! How do we get the reviews for our property in our name? We don’t deal directly with the renters because the PM is getting a % of rental fees so as far as we are concerned, he’s getting paid to do a job. We’re not happy with him on the camera and the dog issues. There aren’t many local options for vacay rental property managers in area of our property so we’re looking at options if there is another problem with dogs.

I have never heard anything good about property managers. :roll_eyes:

It’s a really good idea to have your listing in your name and to maintain control.

I know that I’m closing the door after the horse has bolted here, but if you can find a way to use a local and experienced co-host, I imagine that you and your guests could have a better experience.


They are there for his protection too. Maybe he’s the one who wants to cheat.


You made a mistake a lot of hosts do when they have a property manager- letting the manager list the place under his own account. What you should have done is had it under your account, with the manager as co-host. I.e. maintain control of your own listing. If you can this manager, you lose all the reviews- they are his, not yours, and non-transferrable.

While this forum is called Airhosts, it is a private website and non-affiliated with Airbnb- many hosts here list on multiple platforms, as well as have their own direct booking site, so you can ask questions about VRBO, or other platforms here, no problem.


If you’re not happy with him, let him go. List your home yourself on Airbnb and other platforms. However, before doing so, make sure you have a co-host and a cleaning team that you can trust. He’s basically accepting anyone and everyone because he gets a percentage. Declining folks would not put money in his pocket. It’s not his home so he really doesn’t care about damages.


We have a really good co-host / property manager (I went this route because I am new so they help get everything set up and I like having the backup). She is probably more of a co-host, but, I call her a property manager because she handles all of the bookings and communications.

We work well together, but, there is constant conflict. It helps to just understand that you (owner) and any property manager have different goals. And, those separate goals will come in conflict. Being open and understanding the issue helps the communication and conflict solving.

As owner, it is MY house, my property, my investment property or whatever. I set rules because I don’t want anyone being destructive of a very valuable piece of real estate and goods.
A co-host or property manager gets paid a percentage of “heads in beds”. It is their job, and in their financial best interest to get bookings.

Understanding that, communicating about it, and setting up specific guidelines for your property manager is just as important as communicating and setting up guidelines for your guests.


I’m a co-host and I don’t have different goals to my clients. We both want to make money, minimise the risk of unsuitable guests both on the listing and the community and minimise the risk of damage to the properties.

If that means less bookings then so be it . If you and your cohost have different goals that’s not a great partnership. @jdmlt


If I required a co-host/property manager, and wasn’t just one of those investor hosts who have no personal interest in the place and want a manager to do absolutely everything, I would want to take care of the guest vetting and communication and reviews. I would use the co-host to schedule cleaners and other maintenance, check the cleaner’s work, let maintenance staff in, deal with guest issues in person if necessary, and report back on the state of the place after check-out.
The bookings and communication is exactly what I wouldn’t want my manager to deal with unless they had the same goals and communication style that I did.

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Very helpful. Learning a lot. Thanks.

Thank you. Great info.

I agree if you’re talking about those big property management companies. But even an individual who only looks after two or three places and does an excellent job might be referred to as a property manager, rather than a co-host. The owners of a little place I looked after used to refer to me as that.

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