Airbnb: Please follow the major airlines & set stricter requirements for guests with ESAs

in
California, United States
Level 4
707 Views

Looks like we're not the first hosts to question Airbnb's policy regarding ESAs. We just sent in this feedback and are hoping Airbnb will respond.

Not sure that Airbnb has responded to the issue on this forum but we encourage other hosts to send in their feedback here.

 

Dear Airbnb, 
We are writing about Airbnb's policy regarding guests traveling with "emotional support animals" or ESAs. While we believe in inclusiveness, it's been well documented that ESAs are not the same as actual Service Animals. Consequently it is unfair for Airbnb to require hosts to accept guests with ESAs and to penalize them if they refuse for multiple reasons:
 
1. It is rather easy to get an ESA certificate based on nothing more than asking one's doctor. There is no protocol for a true diagnosis that definitively determines that an ESA is a "cure" or "treatment" or "necessary" for a person's well being.
2. I have asked individuals traveling with ESAs how they got the approval and they said, "Oh, I just went to my doctor. It was easy."
3. As a host, we pride ourselves in ensuring that our properties are allergen free. Forcing hosts to host guests with ESAs is unreasonable and an invasion of hosts standards. We are inviting guests into our homes. ESAs are typically small animals and we have no way of controlling their dander, getting on the furniture and beds, or urinating/defecating on the floor. Large ESAs would present even more risk.
4. Airbnb relies on hosts for its revenues; however, Airbnb policies tend to favor the guests. Of course we have experienced being Airbnb guests as well and appreciate the site's policies but it seems to be lopsided in terms of supporting hosts vs. guests.
 
Please carefully review your ESA policy. It should be optional not mandatory for hosts to accept. We had a reservation booked for months and only two days before the arrival date did the guest bother to let us know that they would be accompanied by an ESA. If their ESA was so critical to their needs, why would they wait until the last minute to inform the host? This was very suspect; just trying to sneak in their dog at the last minute. We ended up losing the reservation and income because of Airbnb's current ESA policy. That is wrong! We depend on our Airbnbs for our livelihood and to have a last minute cancellation due to NO fault of ours was bad enough but that it was supported by Airbnb exemplifies our earlier point that Airbnb favors guests over hosts.
 
Today American Airlines and other carriers announced they are tightening restrictions on passengers with so-called ESAs. We advise Airbnb to do the same. We are dog owners ourselves and sure, it makes me happier to have my dogs with me but we RESPECT that our hosts' no pets policy. Being an animal owner means taking responsibility. When we travel, we find alternative arrangements for our dogs. This is about business and giving our guests a clean, allergen-free home.
 
Being in California (as are we), Airbnb cites the state's rather lax "tenants and ESAs" laws but it is irresponsible for Airbnb not to take a closer look at this important and divisive issue. Overall, Airbnb should acknowledge that hosts are supplying critical housing whereas there will always be lodging demands by guests. We ask that Airbnb follow the major airlines lead and closely monitor those claiming to need an ESA. 
 
We don't just want this to go into the Feedback inbox. We appreciate your thoughtful response via email or in the Airbnb app because this is an issue that affects ALL Airbnb hosts.
 
 
6 Replies

Re: Airbnb: Please follow the major airlines & set stricter requirements for guests with ESAs

in
Como, CO
Level 10

@Jeff-and-Pam0

 

I do not recollect anybody ever getting any response to feedback.

 

There are a couple of things that I should mention:

 

No certificate is needed, I did get some tags from Amazon but they are more for my amusement.

 

Not sure what you mean by 'approval', none is needed.

 

Guests do not need to disclose they are bringing an ESA, why did you lose the booking?

 

David

Re: Airbnb: Please follow the major airlines & set stricter requirements for guests with ESAs

in
Houston, TX
Level 2

Why is Airbnb’s policy different from HUD/ADA/FHA?   

 

Hotels are not required to allow ESA’s as they are short term accommodations as defined by the above mentioned agencies.  

 

Hosts must be allowed to ask for documentation for the ESA not just the guests word that they have an ESA.

 

Daniel 

Re: Airbnb: Please follow the major airlines & set stricter requirements for guests with ESAs

in
Portland, OR
Level 2

Having been a host for 7 years, I just had my first situation with  guests bringing and ESA without informing me prior to booking. (They don't have to!) I felt very manipulated and set up. The guests pointed out that they will strictly adhere to the ESA policy (they were obviously very familiar with it). I have a no pet policy on my listing, but as Airbnb pointed out, an ESA is NOT a pet. I had various communications with Airbnb regarding their policy which is basically that a guest can declare any animal an ESA can bring it.  (A pony?) You are obligated to accept it., no discrimination. I suggested that Airbnb implement some kind of policy as the airlines have done due to continued abuse. If the airlines can do it, I am sure Airbnb can! I noticed that the person who claimed to be ESA dependent was gone a number of times all day without the dog....

Re: Airbnb: Please follow the major airlines & set stricter requirements for guests with ESAs

in
Rome, GA
Level 2

This ESA scam is getting out of hand. Airbnb handling of this is terrible.

Re: Airbnb: Please follow the major airlines & set stricter requirements for guests with ESAs

in
SF, CA
Level 2

This has just happened to me and I agree, Airbnb needs to change this policy. I am being manipulated by a guest to having a dog stay in my “pet free” space. Hotels and short term rentals are not required by law to allow ESA. Airbnb at the very least should require guests who book with their ESA in a no pets listing, to provide paperwork and a deposit. There are plenty of spaces where pets are allowed, it is frustrating that this guest can and is forcing me to allow her animal into my home against my will. She didn’t even ask if I was ok with it, she just told me she’s bringing the dog and quoted the Airbnb policy. I would feel completely different if this was a licensed service dog and the guest asked if they could bring the dog. They would be most welcome.

Re: Airbnb: Please follow the major airlines & set stricter requirements for guests with ESAs

in
Charleston, SC
Level 10

@Jeff-and-Pam0 The major difference between an Airbnb and and an airline is that any injury on an airplane would be the airlines responsibility as it happened on their property, same with a hotel: they would be responsible for the injury. Hence they have an incentive to reduce pet related injures. While with Airbnb its the host that owns the property so they would be responsible. This may be why there is no pet deposit or function to let host know guest if bringing any pet. That way its just between the host and guest. It would be interesting to find out how many claims are made for pet related injures, or what part of the safety team that has become under more scrutiny for settling cases and if this information should be available to help reduce injuries. In the end I think the policy will be dictated by a companies liability and how much they have to pay out for medial cost. This usually causes me some anxiety as people that are more active and have had dogs all their life also are aware of the risk. 

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