Service Dogs

in
Asheville, NC
Level 1
574 Views

I have just experienced my first Service Dog (I was told I would be sued if I didn't accept it) and per Airbnb, I have no choice. However, I do strongly feel Airbnb should require proof of certification. I have no problem if there is a certification, but anybody can say they have a service pet. We all know animals require more cleaning and vacuuming.

37 Replies

Re: Service Dogs

in
Los Angeles, CA
Level 10

@Anne10379"Sued if you don't accept"? I hope that threat was written in the app. You can report the guest and mention "I am not comfortable with this reservation" and then explain why. After that you can block them and they won't be able to contact you ever again.

Re: Service Dogs

in
Sevierville, TN
Level 2

@Anne10379  I don't allow pets for the exact reason. They require more work. I have excepted a couple pets but I make strict rules. I recently had a request for a service dog to stay. I politely asked what kind of dog and what kind of service. I never heard back from them.

 

Re: Service Dogs

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

@William810 everyone is jumping to the conclusion the guest said this. But the OP doesn't say that. Could be an ABB CSR. Could have been a friend. We don't know. Maybe the OP will give us more details. 

Re: Service Dogs

in
Troy, MI
Level 2

I am also a new host. Not sure I understand, do we HAVE TO accept service dogs even if we do not allow pets?

Re: Service Dogs

in
England, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Sam4397 Yes you do and rightly so if it is a service dog. Now Airbnb also require that you accept emotional support emus, pigs, goats etc. Honestly I would just turn these down and take the consequences.

Re: Service Dogs

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Anne10379  Here are faq's directly from the ADA website regarding service animals. 

 

https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html

 

Q7. What questions can a covered entity's employees ask to determine if a dog is a service animal?

 

A. In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, staff may ask only two specific questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person's disability.

 

Q12. Can hotels charge a cleaning fee for guests who have service animals?

No. Hotels are not permitted to charge guests for cleaning the hair or dander shed by a service animal. However, if a guest's service animal causes damages to a guest room, a hotel is permitted to charge the same fee for damages as charged to other guests.

Re: Service Dogs

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Anne10379 what is that certification you require? Please enlighten me who certifies service dogs. Good for that guest to insist. You can only deny the dog if it is a health threat to you or legitimate threat to your property (like you have chickens in the back yard)

@William810 I hope you or your family never need a service dog so you never experience hosts like you

@D-and-B64 (and OP) how do you know how much more work the dogs are if you do not accept them? I do and my human guests often make a much bigger mess any dog ever could

 

Shame on all three of you

 

Yes, anyone can say they have a service pet and yes, some people lie. You have to make a choice what kind of person you want to be- the one who is happy to risk denying a legitimate person with a disability and continue letting the disabled be discriminated against or take the one dog and do a little extra cleaning one time (if it is even needed).

Re: Service Dogs

in
Los Angeles, CA
Level 10

@Inna22I'm referring to the threatening language, not the service dog.

Re: Service Dogs

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@William810 What were they supposed to do? Put the tail between the legs (pun intended) and back out?

Re: Service Dogs

in
Berlin, Germany
Level 10

@Anne10379  Since you are based in the US, be sure to read the whole FAQ about the Americans with Disability Act in the link @Michelle53 posted above. 

 

The ADA explicitly does not require certification for service dogs and prohibits service providers from demanding them. So Airbnb would be breaking the law if it did what you proposed.

 

However, there is one huge and unnecessary loophole that Airbnb leaves open. Unlike the ADA, Airbnb considers "emotional support animals" to have the same protected status as specially trained assistance animals. This makes it easy for anyone with untrained pets to abuse the policy intended for people with actual disabilities. There is no law stopping Airbnb from closing that loophole. 

 

I'm general, I wouldn't come anywhere near a guest who threatened a lawsuit if I didn't give them keys to my house. Such a person is not acting in good faith, and is certain to be a terrible guest with or without their dog. It should be clear, though, that the basis of the cancellation is the threatening language and not the assistance animal, and that's a hard needle to thread. 

Re: Service Dogs

in
Placencia, Belize
Level 10

"Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person's disability."

 

Now there is a clause designed to guarantee the whole thing will be subject to abuse.  Oftentimes hosting in the U.S. resembles trying to run a somewhat successful popsicle stand within the walls of an asylum.

Re: Service Dogs

in
Swannanoa, NC
Level 10

@Anne10379   I cannot believe that a person who has a true service dog would threaten to sue if you did not accept their animal and the rental.  I do accept pets and impose a pet fee for cleaning.  When I have had a guest with a true service dog, they are respectful and open about the reason for the service dog and the pet fee is waived.  The people who want to save on the pet fee generally have a PET that they are fraudulently profiling as a service dog or ESA.  Those are the people who will threaten if "Fifi" is not accepted.  

 

In any case, if a guest threatens me with a lawsuit if I do not accept some condition, then they are not a good fit and can rent elsewhere.  I will happily cancel them and take the AirBnB punishment.

Re: Service Dogs

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

I cannot believe that a person who has a true service dog would threaten to sue if you did not accept their animal and the rental

 

@Lorna170   I do. I have a good friend who is partially blind and deaf and has a service dog. She has to carry around a copy of the ADA to prove to people that this animal is allowed into shops, public spaces etc. She is very fed up with of people who think it must be a "fake" because she "doesn't look blind" and can talk well. She is also legally trained. Yes, she has threatened lawsuits. She gets tired of the 'tude about the service animal that you see exhibited here. She is a feisty person. I don't blame her at all. I see how people treat her. 

 

Best to assume noble intent on this subject. Give people a little grace. 

Re: Service Dogs

in
Berlin, Germany
Level 10

@Laura2592   Airbnb has a very strict internal policy prohibiting employees (or contractors) from giving customers anything that could be construed as legal advice, beyond copying the information provided in the Responsible Hosting tab. It's the first thing they tell you if you have, for example, a question about how you'll be affected by a confusing regulation. For this reason, I'd be surprised if the person who told @Anne10379  that she was at risk of being sued was working for Airbnb. But hopefully she'll shed some light on that.

 

Thinking about the friend that you describe, she sounds like someone who knows her rights and is also well-versed in which spaces are considered "public accommodations" subject to ADA and which ones don't have the same entitlements. In the US, it's still not a universally settled matter whether an STR constitutes a public accommodation, but no host would want to operate under the same laws that hotels, shops, and public spaces have to follow. Would you personally choose to rent your cottage out on Airbnb if you were being held at proverbial gunpoint and threatened that declining a booking would land you in court? 

 

If this were a norm, I'd expect every decline to be subject to a degree of scrutiny that would make it impossible for hosts to protect their homes from disaster. Your friend is well within her rights to insist that she not be denied access to public services because of her disability, but I'm curious - does she believe that also applies to being granted access to someone's private home? Would she personally sue an Airbnb host with just 1 listing who couldn't accommodate her service dog?

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