I recently learned about Airbnb Assistance Animal Policy (for US users) and was shocked. Did you know that as a host (unless you fall under certain "extenuating circumstances") you are required by Airbnb to allow any assistance animal into your home? We are talking about emotional support cats, pigs, goats, chickens; you name it, it's welcome in your home.
"Airbnb defines assistance animals to include Emotional Support Animals. These are animals that are used as part of medical treatment and/or therapy to assist with an individual’s daily functional tasks, but are not limited to a specific type of animal and are not required to be trained to assist an individual in a particular task. These animals are sometimes referred to as comfort animals or therapy animals."
So, how do we as hosts know our guests have brought a real, "comfort animal" into our homes? We don't. According to the policy:
"Airbnb does not require documentation when traveling with an assistance animal. In the United States, guests are not required to provide documentation for a service animal and there is no legally recognized certification process for service animals."
There is no legally recognized certification process because anyone can go onto the internet and purchase a "certified document" from a "real therapist" for less than $200. Just google "how to get an emotional support animal". So, if a guest comes to your home and claims they have an emotional support turkey, according to Airbnb policy, you can't ask for documentation to prove what they are saying is true. And if your home does not fall under the "extenuating circumstances", you are not allowed to ask them to remove the animal from your home.
Unless you can prove the following:
A host may ask a guest to remove a service animal if:
Want to know the worst part (yes, it gets worse)? The guests do not even have to tell the hosts they are bringing an animal into their home.
Do guests have to disclose the presence of an assistance animal before booking?
No. While guests are not required to disclose the presence of an assistance animal before booking, we always encourage transparent communication to ensure a smooth experience for all.
So, if you have a guest sneak their emotional support cat into your home without your knowledge and the next guest staying is severely allergic to cats, you will not even know your house is contaminated to warn the next guests. As well, how can you assess if the animal is out of control or not house broken if you do not even know it is in your home during the stay?
Now for the extenuating circumstances:
However, if your listing includes a shared space and an assistance animal would create a health or safety hazard to you or others (e.g. allergies and pets who are unable to share space with other animals due to a safety concern), we will not require you to host the guests with the assistance animal.
As far as I understand the policy, that is it. If your listing is for the "entire home" you do not qualify. Even if you do have shared spaces in your listing, you still may not qualify if you can't adequately explain why you can't have pets in your home.
I am hoping this helps to educate hosts and guests alike on the current Airbnb Assistance Animal Policy. There are many more reasons that this policy is unnecessarily strict. If you wish to learn more visit the Airbnb Community posts and search assistance animal, and read Airbnbs policy. I do want to be clear that I appreciate and acknowledge that there are individuals who require assistance animals, and that those animals help with those individual’s quality of life in many valuable ways. The thoughts above are my interpretation of the policy. Please read it for yourself if you wish to learn more.
If you are a concerned host or guest wishing to learn more about this policy, the following links have more information
Airbnb's way of handling deposits is already enough to put a host off offering an entire place. This policy only proves the thinking to be correct. Next there will be unremovable tenants...
@Branka-and-Silvia0 you can raise your nightly prices for every guest, but Airbnb does not allow hosts to charge extra for animals, if the guest claims it is an assistance animal. If a guest asked if they could bring their emotional support turkey to your home and you said they would have to pay extra, you could be accused of discrimination. Recently, I was contacted by someone who refused to accept an emotional support dog on the assumption that it was not legitimate. The guest contacted airbnb and the host ended up having to pay a fine, have their super host stauts removed for a year, and could potentially have their account shut down if there are similar issues in the future. This is what I know for US users, but I'm assuming you have a similar airbnb policy?
@Branka-and-Silvia0 I am also curious: Do you have many guests bringing 'emotional support animals' where you are? And I also wonder, does your policy read the same as ours here in the U.S.? I'd love to see a copy of it.
@Rebecca181 haha noooo... here in Croatia nobody ever heard of emotional support animals :D No way you would be allowed to use this funny excuse here.
Trained service dogs are allowed of course.
Dogs are not allowed in buses except CITY buses and trams but you have to buy ticket for your dog as well. Some passengers will not be happy and will probably complain so I rather walk.
Croatia is sadly not very dog friendly country :( Especially on the south people treat animals badly. Dogs are not allowed to enter most places and very rarely you will find a place where you can tie them in front of the entrance. Even Ikea and DM in Croatia don't allow dogs although in other countries they do. They say it is because other customers complained.
Just one small bus carrier (Presečki bus) allow small dogs and you have to buy a ticket for him. But be prepared that a driver may not be happy and will try to prohibit you to enter in the bus so you will have to call a supervisor. And they drive to the coast only in a high season . So if you have a dog and don't drive , you can travel only by train.
Dog parks and dog beaches are very rare.
We have a dog and love animals . We allowed dogs in our unit for a year but had only 2-3 guests with a dog in that period so we don't allow pets any more.( It seems there are more guests with alergies then with dogs.)
@Branka-and-Silvia0 EXCEPT - Airbnb is treating ESA's as if they were federally protected ADA service animals. Therefore, we will be reprimanded (or worse) if we charge a fee. Then there's the fact that the policy does not REQUIRE guests to disclose they are bringing their emotional support animal. So even if we COULD charge a fee, many hosts would never even know the guest had brought their pet dog, cat, pig, iguana, chicken, lamb, horse, donkey if the guest chooses not to disclose and if the host does not live on the property (or have nosy neighbors who are wondering why there is a llama in your rental yard).
This should get very interesting with overlapping laws! My town (and I'd imagine many others) have zoning laws that prevent barn animals from residentially zoned areas. I may not be able to charge for their support sheep, but I would definitely be passing along any fines I received!
@Amy459 @Branka-and-Silvia0 I believe that Airbnb disallows extra fees being charged for the animal because Federal laws in the United States regarding ADA service animals and FHA laws regarding support animals (which many think most short term rental owners are exempt from) do not allow the landlord or owner to charge fees. This is why, for me, the main issue is that Airbnb treats emotional support animals as if they were federally protected ADA service animals - and they are not. States may protect them via FHA enactments (and possibly HUD - not sure), but whether or not a landlord or owner accepts the ESA is best assessed on a case-by-case basis, which this Airbnb policy does not acknowledge or allow.
We recently had a guest book saying her group was bringing two "therapy dogs." Knowing about this policy, I did not charge our normal pet fee. The group checked out over an hour late, left the house reeking of booze, and left comments in our guest book documenting their own illegal drug use in the house... What's the difference between an emotional support animal and a pet? I have no idea, and this experience wasn't reassuring. It seems clear that any guest can call their pet a support animal and hosts have absolutely no recourse. It's too bad this policy is so easy to abuse, because of course some animals really are trained service animals and are necessary for their owners' well-being.
What did any of that have to do with the 'supposed' therapy dogs?
Did the dogs check out late after their owners left, were the dogs drinking alcohol, were the dogs taking drugs?
If they left late and the house smelled like booze then charge them for it!
So I'm curious. I live in a stratafied complex with strict rules. One of them states:
"A resident shall not permit a visitor of the resident to bring any pet or animal onto a strata lot, common property or land that is a common asset"
If a guest decided to bring an animal I could be in violation of my strata bylaws and subject to a fine. I would assume that with this caveat I would be exempt from accepting guests with "service animals". However, you can't really assume anything with Airbnb these days.