Unable to accept children = discrimination

I just had a request for booking. The writer was the guests wife, and noted she was new to Airbnb, and gave me all sorts of info on who was paying, etc. (which has zero to do with me). She noted her husband would stay a certain amount of days, but she had to get back home because their 5-year old son was still in school. I wrote back to confirm that they had read our listing and all met with their needs, and that I am limited to only 2 people, and I cannot take a child since this is a rural setting, for which insurance does not cover a child for Airbnb-type guests. Since it was such a vague email from them, and they were en route to the area and it’s pouring, I called Airbnb for assistance. I asked that they contact the potential guests and find out if they were checking email, if it was 2 or 3 people, and noted I could not take a child. The representative told me this was discrimination and she had to contact Legal and to hold. I told her my insurance doesn’t cover those under 18, and she said it was still discrimination. I am really confused and perturbed. Now I am being told who I can and can’t house, and if they are a child and it’s not covered by my insurance I still have to accept them. That rep hung up on me, didn’t call back, so I called back in and asked Airbnb to confirm if this was 2 or 3 people. The guest wrote back and didn’t answer the question.
Anyone else with this experience?

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Never had this problem but I think it’s sticky from the get go. Is there a personal insurance that the guests can secure for their child? Maybe you can ask them to research.

@Airium - there are a few threads here on Airbnb and their children policy. Airbnb does not count in the total children under 2 and they stay for free - or at least that is what Air wants.

Check out this one: http://www.airhostsforum.com/t/it-could-be-risky-to-say-no-children-in-your-airbnb-listing/9446

This makes no sense to me at all. Surely it’s a lawsuit in waiting? If a property is not child-safe and there’s an accident, are Airbnb seriously going to cite non-discrimination as a viable excuse for forcing a host to take a guest? It’s insane.


@Airium, I would call back and demand to speak to a senior person. Explain that you will take the child guest if they guarantee to cover your insurance and take full responsibility for any potential accident or injury to the child. You might like to suggest that your lawyer is drafting a letter to this affect. This situation is utterly ridiculous and the company needs to be called out on it.


Even though we use Instant Book, I find that guests who want to bring a child are always polite enough to message me to ask first. I tell them that the place is not safe enough for children because of several factors, which I enumerate.

In every case the guest has messaged back thanking me for the information but saying that they appreciate the reply. Their first concern, after all, is for their child and once things are pointed out to them in a friendly way, they realise that they should book elsewhere.


Here is a link to the Airbnb page which explains the (convoluted) new rules about children, the guest count and charging for children. Clearly you got a customer service representative who wasn’t thinking clearly. If not allowing children was legally considered discrimination, they would have to be allowed everywhere (X rated films, all public swimming pools regardless of depth, all rides at amusement parks regardless of the child’s size, you get the picture.) I allow children of all ages and I’ve had great fun with them, but I can understand that on some properties it would be unsafe.



If there is an accident/injury and you are liable but uninsured you would have to pay all damages.

Yes, call back. The telephone support at Air is subpar at best.

That thread is about suing hosts who declare ‘no children’ in their listing which is not quite the same thing as this situation, I believe. I recall a lot of discussion about the ‘kids go free’ issue on some FB groups and hosts were going to bring it up at the Open. But I guess that effort got lost in a cloud of Airbnb fluffiness (no offence to those who tried, btw) and no more was heard about it. It’s all very confusing. I can’t imagine that Air lawyers could possibly be acquiescent to children being put in potential danger. So again, I would say be firm - VERY firm! - when speaking to cx people. Most of them are pretty clueless and, to be fair, are trying to follow ever-changing policies that they are rarely informed about.


Scanning through the thread that catskillsGrrl referenced above, I saw this post from the observant (and missed) mearns:

"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. "

That seems to cover it, I think? ie. the person you spoke to initially was not very up to date/bright. It’s a bit like 1984 (George Orwell) :frowning:

I really don’t think we want to engage in a discussion of breed specific legislation on this forum. Opponents on the issue of Israel have more common ground. However, I believe that regardless of a guest being told not to do something if their actions result in an event that a lawyer would represent either the guest or the host or both could be successfully sued. If a dog bites (regardless of breed) the owner is considered responsible. If the dog is on the host’s property; I believe that the host could probably be successfully sued. Other examples would include a pool or a trampoline. If you have a pool and tell guests that they aren’t allowed to swim in it or if you have a trampoline and you tell guests that they may not use it you will still be considered liable if someone drowns.

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Ellen - I was only asking you because I know certain breeds are not covered by some insurance.

So I was trying to use an exact example of a guest being told “my insurance does not cover this, and therefore I cannot allow this person or animal on the property.”

I understand anyone can sue anyone for anything.

We can be held responsible for activities that we have forbidden. If your teenager violates his/her curfew and causes damage, you will be held liable. If a guest at your house slips and falls you will be held liable even if you’ve warned the guest about the floor having just been mopped or whatever. The owners of swimming pools are held liable even if people climb the fence and trespass on the property to access the pool.

Although many examples are unfair to the person who is being held responsible for someone else’s behavior consider the alternative. If people only had to warn one another about danger instead of mitigating it we would live in a scary world. Restaurants could violate food safety practices if they warned you. Construction sites wouldn’t have to require hard hats and steel toed boots. They could just warn workers. The reason so many are killed by guns is that gun manufacturers are not held responsible for their products; they just issue warnings.

Thank you, thank you ALL, for sharing in the insanity with your comments…and thank you for this site.

There does seem to be a common theme that the varying reps, some adept in some areas not updated in others, and those with no clue. In answer to the person about age 2 and no charge, that is not the issue but thank you for the response.

Thank you to EllenN (and great analogies) and Magwitch, yep, you got it. If there’s an accident and no coverage, they own me. And Magwitch (and I would be the turnip), definitely a lawsuit in waiting with no guarantee of outcome but a hassle nonetheless, which is why I put Airbnb on notice just a bit ago, noting I was holding them personally liable if an accident occurred to an underage guest, when I had informed Airbnb that the premises were not conducive to children… This is yes, insane, and not well thought out.

CabinHost, my guests are not allowed to have guests. Insurance, and I believe even that minimal insurance of Airbnb only covers paying guests. So, in answer, hypothetically while I would tell my guests no-go to children, and a child arrived later, insurance will not cover…the policy is quite clear. Sticking with two people, in this instance works perfectly. I am in the most litigious of all United States, California…the reasons for my concern. In answer to your latter comment, no it was not the guest, but Airbnb. The guests requested today, they are new to Airbnb, their email was convoluted, and they were en route to the area and not responding to emails via Airbnb’s website. So I called Airbnb to contact them. That’s how it started. I did try to keep my composure, but became unglued after I told her the listing was rural, on the side of a hill, etc., and I could not tell from the guests email if a child was a 3rd party, and that the listing was not conducive to children…and she told me that was discrimination, and needed to talk to Legal for a moment. I was on hold for about 3 minutes, and Airbnb hung up; she didn’t call back, and when that has happened before they have always called back.

Jaquo, me too, in the past people with children have always asked about the premises, and they made the decision it wasn’t safe for them. However, I do not Instant Book, we are booked rather easily as much as we want without Instant.

Izzy, not sure how that would work re asking guests to get insurance for the children…a form of rental insurance with personal liability and it would have to cover the parents, too. So when would that even occur…you want to book, then please provide proof of your travel rental insurance. Would Airbnb allow that requirement of hosts to a guest? BUT, maybe the solution is that Airbnb on their part requires all guests to get rental insurance, and Airbnb can facilitate that at their end. So this would carry personal liability, which Airbnb has pushed back on consistently.

Again, thanks ALL!

I want to make sure that you know that you have agreed to settle disputes with Airbnb via binding arbitration. This means that Airbnb probably won’t be held accountable for anything that happens as a result of a child on your property.

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Ah, so my notice to hold them accountable would move that issue to arbitration, and unless there was an arbitrator who was unbiased and understood that my property is not safe for children, that the child was harmed because Airbnb forced me to take the placement of a child in an unsafe condition, that would be the final resolute.

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Correct. Unless you really like to hear creative swear words don’t ask me what I think of binding arbitration agreements.

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Well, I will ditto you on that!

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I just got Farmers Home insurance on a rental property. I was told they wouldn’t insure the house unless the renter got a policy to cover liability for her dogs. Fortunately she agreed and I got the new policy and I feel a sense of relief.

I’m still a little edgy about my Air renting in my own house. I have a flight of uncarpeted oak stairs that I envision a guest falling down. I don’t have a dog, so no worries on that count.

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