Recently, my listing was booked for 38 days starting on November 3rd. I already gave a discount for booking over 30 days but the guest requested an additional discount which I gave. My listing has a very explicit no pets policy and the guest made no indication she might have or want to bring an animal.
This afternoon, I received a message from Support stating the guest reported having an Emotional Support Animal and wanted to know if she could bring it along. I stated I would reach out to the guest to discuss the ESA.
I reached out to the guest this evening and requested documentation for the support animal, a picture, asked some questions as to the size and temperament of said animal, care arrangements while the guest is working/in school and also asked if she would be willing to pay an additional deposit. The guest promptly told me that it was illegal to ask for an additional deposit which I looked up and it was true—I apologized and dropped it. The guest then stated she couldn’t upload a pickof her dog so I agreed to meet the dog and the guest tomorrow evening.
No more than a five minutes after I agreed to meet with the guest, I received a call from Support stating that the guest called and expressed concern that I requested documentation of her ESA and a deposit. I was told i was not allowed to discriminate by asking for documentation of disability. I stated that I am not exactly comfortable with an animal in my home as I am not a pet owner myself and I am concerned with pet damage, noise and possible disagreements with my neighbors over the animal.
I found the whole experience off-putting as all the guest had to do in the first place was be upfront about her ESA, but she chose to involve Support and then complained because I asked questions.
The guest only has two reviews which are 4-Star and sparing in their verbiage so it’s hard to get a feel for the type of guest she is.
Now, I am wondering whether or not to move forward with the reservation as I feel this guest has acted in a manipulative manner. I don’t want to risk 38 days of having to tip-toe around my own house for fear that she’ll report me to Support for something I may not be aware I am doing to offend.
Warning bells but doesn't look like you can do much about it. I've got a thing about people asking for discounts on top of discounts but not the point as you're thinking about the ESA. Sounds like you're just going to hope for the best, if things do start to go south keep in mind you can boot them if the "animal is out of control and owner doesn't do anything" or not housebroken.
As far as the non disclosure I'd be interested in reading her reviews of the other two hosts and see if the ESA was mentioned. There's a chrome extension called airreview that lets you see what a potential guest says about their stays. It really provides insight as to the type of guest they will be.
@Leiloni0 Have you consulted Airbnb if you can ask for the proof of ESA? Have you asked if it is possible for you to cancel the reservation since you don't feel comfortable because the guest had not disclosed the ESA when she booked?
@Leiloni0 this is a red flag for me. Asking for a further discount was one thing, but not telling you up front about the ESA and then refusing to give you any details and involving CS are making the alarm bells ring even louder. Has Airbnb forgotten that we are just regular people inviting complete strangers into our homes? Why should we be forced to accept anyone regardless of the potential consequences? I would be calling Airbnb to ask that the reservation be cancelled.
I would not want to accept this guest. They've already proven themselves to be pushy and withholding information (dog). This is a prime example why I don't do stays of over 8 days. I don't want to get stuck with some problematic guest, even with my in-law unit where I don't share any interior space with guests.
Also are you aware that in California, once someone stays over 30 days legally they become a "tenant" -- not a transient occupancy "guest"? Read about the girl in Palm Springs who got stuck with squatters who refused to leave. When "tenants" refuse to leave then you have to file an unlawful detainer in court and that is time consuming and expensive. You can't just call the sheriff to haul them out if they're tenants.
Having said all of this, if you cancel this guest, they might have a legal case against you for discrimination against people with disabilities (the whole support dog nonsense). Yes, legally they don't have to provide any documentation proof. The whole emotional support dog law is a big racket for people who want to take their pets everywhere without being challenged.
If it was me, an "emergency" of some sort would arise that would cause me to have to block out the dates for everyone -- not just this guest. ; )
In the future I would not give discounts to ANYONE who asks... ever. This too can open yourself up to a lawsuit from the next person (from a protected class) who does NOT get a discount.
Also don't be one of the lower priced stays in your area. Higher prices tend to weed out the problematic guests.
@Leiloni0 Yes you're right, this is a horrible guest - willing to manipulate and threaten you to get whatever she wants, with no shame about getting Airbnb involved in order to back you into a corner. Hosting this guest in a shared home is all but certain to mean more escalating conflicts and demands.
Unfortunately you've already made a few mistakes that are hard to reverse. First off - when a guest asks for a discount, you immediately know that they don't value your offering and would rather have you take a pay cut than find something that fits their budget. This kind of guest should be declined outright.
Airbnb was wrong to cooperate with the guest in pressuring you out of your pet policy. This "emotional support animal" racket is garbage, but it does have loopholes - and you should use these to get out of the booking immediately.
The guest is so emotionally fragile that a stranger has to let her bring a pet into her home? Two can play that game. I'm diagnosing you with both a pet allergy and an anxiety disorder that is TRIGGERED by this guest's threats. Inform Airbnb that it is not safe for you to have this guest in your home, due to revelations made after you accepted the booking. Do not relent until they grant you a penalty-free cancellation.
Stick with the pet allergy narrative for consistency's sake. As an in-home host with fewer than 6 rental rooms, you are exempt from ADA regulations and can not be legally required to accept any kind of service animal. But since Airbnb has its own poorly-thought-out policies here, you have to use the loophole they supply.
Also, bear in mind that any and all damage caused by animals/pets, is expressly excluded under the terms of the Host Guarantee Policy.
The Airbnb Host Guarantee pays Covered Losses only and does not pay for any of the following (“Excluded Losses”):
6. the following conditions:
@Andrew0 gave some good advice. Another loophole for future reference is that you can require the Service Animal or ESA to remain with the guest AT ALL TIMES. ie, Tell the guest the dog cannot be left alone in your home. That is usually a deterrent for those who are just trying to take advantage of the policy and don't really "need" their dog.
Of course, a person with a legitimate service animal wouldn't be bothered by this and legitimate service animals are not a problem. As hosts, we shouldn't be afraid of service animals. They are trained very well. People claiming these ESA's on the other hand.....ridiculous.
You are never allowed to ask for documentation, but you can always ask these two questions:
1 - Is this a service animal required due to a disability?
2 - What specific tasks is the animal trained to do for you?
@Susan17 Damages caused by service animals or ESA's that hosts are required to accept are covered.
I've heard and read far too many reports of hosts who have had their valid claims for significant damage to their homes caused by service animals/ESAs (be they real or fake) denied by the company, to have seen any evidence whatsoever that Airbnb is honouring such a policy.
Just to clarify, there is no specific language in Airbnb's Terms of Service to include damage caused by service animals/ESAs under the "Covered Losses" provision, nor exempt them from the "Excluded Losses" clause.
The only (rather woolly and non-binding) reference is under the Assistance Animal guidelines in the Help Centre.
Can a host require additional compensation if the animal damages a listing beyond normal wear and tear?
Yes, in the same way as a host has the right to retain some or all of a guest’s security deposit to compensate for damage caused by the guest. Although it is reasonable for a host to expect that an assistance animal is well trained and will not cause any damage, the Host Guarantee and security deposit are still at the host's disposal in the rare event that an accident should occur.