Our cottage listing has a "No Pets" policy stated in the listing. Yesterday afternoon  I received the following message: 


Airbnb: Kwxyz for Sep 25-27, 'Hello William, How strict is your pet policy? I am asking for a friend who has two service animals.'.  


A number of things about that inquiry made me suspicions that this was someone who just wanted to bring their pets and was looking for a way around the pet policy. For example I think people with true service animals know that the law allows them to bring the animals regardless of the pet policy. They have two service animals - possible but not as likely. They were asking "for a friend". They didn't specify what kind of animals they were. 


In reply, I sent the following: 

Are the service animals required because of a disability and what tasks have the animals been trained to perform?


I haven't had any response to the reply.  What do you think I should have done? I don't want to deny anybody who truly has a service animal, bit don't want to accommodate people just wanting to bring their pets.

50 Replies

Re: Pet Policy and Service Animals

San Diego, CA
Level 2

Thought this would be a relevant thread to ask, what are my rights as a superhost for services animals in shared space, and what's airbnb's definition of shared space?


These are the available selection for me to list my space appropriately, so what if it's an entire place with a shared patio?



  • Entire place: Guests have the whole place to themselves. This usually includes a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen.
  • Private room: Guests have their own private room for sleeping. Other areas could be shared.
  • Shared room: Guests sleep in a bedroom or a common area that could be shared with others.


I just had pickle of a situation.  I had a potential guest reaching out knowing that I have a no pet policy as I already have a dog and cat on the premises. So the layout is, there are two apartments on one lot, we live in one and airbnb the other. We state in the description their apartment is the entire apartment and we live in the other apartment, but we have a shared patio area, which our cat and dog nap in. For the safety of my cat and dog, I declined the reservation because of the shared patio.  I then was contacted by Airbnb saying I'm receiving a warning...


"According to our Nondiscrimination Policy, a host may not decline a reservation on the basis of a guest’s medical requirements. This includes the use of an assistance animal, unless the listing is a shared space subject to an applicable exemption (e.g., severe allergies). "


So I was taken back about this as there is a shared patio, and per Airbnb's service animal policy if there is a shared space and I'm concerned with safety issues, I would not be required to host guests with assistance animals.


"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." https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/1869/what-is-an-assistance-animal


In response, the represenative sent me this response, "The shared space is referring to shared or private rooms; because your listing is an entire home we are unable to grant an exception."


So I'm a little confused as Airbnb policy states, “includes a shared space”. The words “includes a” indicates that the whole property may not be shared, but a certain section. I’m not sure if policy has to be updated to a more acurate definition or if it’s correct and there is a miss interpretation? Eitherway I'm trying to do the just thing. As I find it difficult to believe that for all the Airbnb’s, there are many with entire home's with a shared outdoor space (patio, backyard, etc) that the hosts safety concerns or for that matter general saftey concerns are not put first?


This represenative refused a phone conversation nor when asked for a manager contact. Instead replied, "I am sorry, but there are no managers for me to put you in contact with."



Re: Pet Policy and Service Animals

Gold Coast, Australia
Level 1

You were completely out of line to ask what the service dog does. This is a breach of privacy and you can not ask this personal question you can only ask if they are GHAD approved. Some people do have 2 service dogs either 1 is support 1 is physical help or both do their own jobs. This is none of your business tho. Yes approved owners know but we get discriminated so much we still bloody ask as we don't need the drama if seen with a dog and they don't know why. 


Be respectful clearly most comments are from perfect humans who lucky don't need any support but for those who do respect their privacy. 

Re: Pet Policy and Service Animals

Portland, OR
Level 2

I just had two reservations canceled by a host because I will not pay a pet fee for my ESA, and I am deeply disheartened by this experience. I am considering leaving Airbnb altogether if I can so easily be discriminated against without Airbnb resolving it. I saw the listings, read Airbnb's nondiscrimination policy, booked the rentals, and contacted the owner to let him know that I have an ESA, that she is a small, well-trained, house-trained dog, who HAS HER OWN BEDDING (i.e. would not be sleeping in the bed with me, regardless I would assume he changes/launders the sheets between guests) and that I was willing to provide paperwork from my provider showing that she is in fact a Service Animal even though I am not required to do so. His listing also says that it is not a good place for people with allergies because he has a cat that stays there with him when he stays there. 


It is not a multi-unit dwelling so no one else with allergies would be staying there, and I offered to show him paperwork from my veterinarian that she's healthy, up to date on her vaccinations, etc. I fly with her multiple times a year and have to do this with the airline, so I wasn't opposed to offering confirmation in order to give him peace of mind so we could just have a relaxing visit. I also told him that if my pet caused any damage--which I have no concerns of happening--I would be willing to pay for repairs. I tried to politely explain that if she were a destructive or disruptive dog, she wouldn't be able to be a working dog in the first place. I took her to work with me for years as an elementary school teacher and had no issues whatsoever.


He told me I could agree to pay the pet fee, or he would cancel my reservation. I told him I would not pay the fee because it went against the nondiscrimination policy. The owner then said that a past reference of mine gave me zero stars for obeying house rules - I can't see this anywhere on my profile and I said that it must have been an oversight because the reference the hosts in question (from 2016) left stated that "they kept the place looking good. They are very nice and we would host again. We recommend them for your Air bnb as well" so I don't know if Airbnb has changed their rating system or how to find out where this "zero rating" is even coming from (or if it even exists) to rectify it. 


I understand that hosts don't want people trying to pass their pets off as Service Animals in order to avoid pet fees, and I feel compassion for them there. People doing this dishonestly don't help people like me who actually have/need Service Animals. It really doesn't benefit anyone, but people who don't want to rent to people with Service Animals should not rent through Airbnb or at the very least just be upfront in their listing that they are not going to follow the policy and that they require an extra fee. 


The host said to me that it would have been courteous to 'ask first' and I tried to tell him that the fact that I told him ahead of time even though I was not required to do so, and offered to provide documentation, was an attempt at being courteous but he didn't see it as such. To be honest, I think that even if I'd told him prior to booking the listing, he still would have refused to rent to me if I wasn't willing to pay a pet fee because he doesn't beleive that he needs to respect the nondiscrimination policy. 


I am curious to see how this will be resolved. Airbnb has suggested that we 'find another place' and informed me that they cannot force him to rent to us, so I really don't understand the reason they have the nondiscrimination policy that clearly lays out what hosts are and are not allowed to do if hosts are going to be allowed to openly discriminate regardless.

Re: Pet Policy and Service Animals

Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@A-7  You sound like a responsible person who was upfront about your ESA and aren't just one of those scammers who claims their dog as an ESA just so they can take it everywhere with them. 

And I think the host may have been bluffing about the review- you only have one review and it indicates you were a good guest. As a non-Instant Book host, I can't see guests' star ratings, only their written revews, but there is no such thing as a 0 star rating- it's 1*-5*s.

The pet fee issue is a hard one for hosts- just because a dog is a legitimate ESA or a service animal doesn't mean they don't shed fur, and don't leave dog smell. And while you may not allow your dog to get in the bed, there are many dog owners who say they won't let the dog on the furniture, then do it anyway, so it's hard for hosts to just take complete strangers at their word.

Yes, I know that legally, you aren't supposed to have to pay a pet fee, as your dog isn't classified as a pet, but it seems to me, that regardless of laws and policies, a host who says he will accept you and your dog isn't discriminating against you. He's simply trying to insure that he doesn't incur additional cleaning costs which haven't been covered. You may call it discrimination, but it doesn't seem that way to me, it seems fair.

Re: Pet Policy and Service Animals

Rachel, WV
Level 1

Well you can’t judge people on just what others have done. Airbnb and places like that do not have to follow that law because it is a privately owned place.You are just simply allowing people to stay in your home. However with that being said if you do use one of those site to show your home to potential stayers it is written that they do not have to show documentation and you asking for documentation is telling that person they are a liar; even though you’ve never met them. If something ever occurs then they will have to provide the right documentation. Which if is a service animal for like anxiety and other things as such then the correct documentation is a written paper signed by a licensed therapist.  Yes some may be a liar but not all are and it really does suck for those of us who do have service animals. I have asked this same question for my sister because she has two service animals; for her anxiety is really bad. So to handle the situation a little better all you have to say is.....of course service animals are always welcome, just make sure you have your documentation paper/s on hand. 

Re: Pet Policy and Service Animals

Snellville, GA
Level 1

Question, I am hosting in Georgia and I wonder a couple things.  Yes, we do accept pets but there is a required pet fee based on a per day charge.  One question, can a charge for a pet (service animal) still be charged?  Two, can documentation be requested?  Thanks

Join the conversation