so a guest shows up with a 'service animal', what are AirBnB's policies on that?

Level 2
St Augustine, FL

so a guest shows up with a 'service animal', what are AirBnB's policies on that?

56 Replies 56

airbnb says in their guidelines that you are not required to disclose that you have a service animal with you.  If you do and they refuse, you are being discriminated against.  Any business can have their own policy on it, but federl law (ADA) supersedes all state laws concerning service animals. 

Several things you have said are wrong. I have a service animal and know the law inside and out. 


Not accommodating is not an option.


No guest of Airbnb is required to disclose that they are bringing a service animal. 

I also know the law inside and out.  You are more or less correct in your statements but they are a bit misleading as they leave out a lot and can lead to abuse if misunderstood, and potential criminal penalties or lawsuits for people with fake service animals.  I'll fix the statements.


"Not accommodating is not an option."  -  You are correct that all businesses (and hosts) MUST accommodate LEGITIMATE SERVICE ANIMALS at all times.  A business or host CAN refuse accommodation or service (legally, Airbnb terms is another story as they leave their terms intentionally vague) if there is evidence that the service animal is not legitimate.


The service animal is not considered legitimate, by law IF:


A:  The answers to the following questions are not satisfactory to a reasonable person on a jury:


1.  Are you the person with the disability for which the animal present is providing a service (or any form of that same question)?


2.  What specific tasks is the animal trained to perform for you?



B.  The service animal is not housebroken.



C.  The service animal is not under the control of the disabled person at all times.


In any of the above situations, the host or business provider, LEGALLY can refuse service or accommodation.  


According to Airbnb, guests are not required to disclose that they are bringing a service animal prior to their arrival.  Airbnb pretty much goes quiet after that.  


There is nothing that I have seen in Airbnb terms prohibiting a host who notices a dog that was not included on the reservation, and asks the above questions.  


There is also nothing I have seen in Airbnb terms that prohibits a host from questioning or asking to be removed an animal that does not meet the criteria of a trained service animal.  


I will provide an example, legally, which could be ground for criminal fraud charges or civil suit (and, of course, refusal of service/accomodation).




Guest arrives with Fluffy.  Fluffy is barking at every bird and child who walks past and lunging at other guests.  Guest is barely able to keep Fluffy from bolting the pressure on the leash is so strong.  Host asks if this is a service animal.  Guest replies yes it is.  Host asks if guest is the person with the disability for which the animal is providing service.  Guest replies yes.  Host asks, "May I ask, what specific tasks is it trained to perform?"  Guest acts dumbfounded.  Says "It's medical."  "It calms me down."  


Host makes a note.  


Later, Fluffy is seen in the building lobby, running off leash chasing a child.  Guest who owns Fluffy is on the floor above having a cocktail and didn't notice Fluffy ran off.  


Child hides.  Fluffy poops on the carpet in the lobby.


Guest comes running down, apologizes.  Says "bad girl."


Host asks guest to either leave or remove dog from the premises as it's clear it is not a trained service animal meeting the ADA definition.


Guest refuses, claims it's a medical necessity.


Police are called.


Camera footage shows dog was not under control of disabled person at all times, was not housebroken, and couldn't possibly be performing vital tasks for the disabled person.  


Guest is charged with service animal fraud and subject to civil penalties.


Host is fine, legally and morally.






Personally I wouldn't care what ABB policies are, if someone turns up with an assistance or support animal we'll accommodate the person and the animal, probably a dog.

Unless it's a rabbit, or anything small and furry, which could get very complicated as we have three greyhounds.... it could result in paperwork 😕

Level 10
Belle, WV

It is my understanding that along with the two questions mentioned above:


For service animals, you should know you are only allowed to ask 2 questions to service animal owners:

1) is this animal YOUR service animal and

2) what service does your animal provide.


a trained service animal will not struggle on leash, is never left alone (i.e. in the room while the owner goes out), and is basically so well trained you would not know it is there. 

You will know if a dog is not a true service dog. If it is misbehaving, pulling on leash, baring, peeing in the house, etc. I believe you can ask the guest to leave due to misrepresenting the animal as a service animal. 


I have a guest coming Sunday who said she has a small service dog. I don't usually accept animals, due to my own, but we'll see on this one.

---> That's how I look at most guests, like cousins. And you know, some of those cousins are kooks.
Level 10
Belle, WV

Here is a quick list from the US page on service animals.

Service animals are:

  • Dogs

  • Any breed and any size of dog

  • Trained to perform a task directly related to a person’s disability

Service animals are not:

  • Required to be certified or go through a professional training program

  • Required to wear a vest or other ID that indicates they’re a service dog

  • Emotional support or comfort dogs, because providing emotional support or comfort is not a task related to a person’s disability


    -- also --


    Asking Someone to Remove Their Service Animal

    A business or state/local government can ask someone to remove their service animal if:

    • The dog is not housebroken.
    • The dog is out of control, and the person cannot get the dog under control.


---> That's how I look at most guests, like cousins. And you know, some of those cousins are kooks.

The thing that everybody’s missing is what if the owner of the property has put no pets because they are asthmatic and highly allergic what about them? What happens when the owner wants to stay there, or any other guest that needs a pet free environment? there are plenty of Airbnb homes to rent that are pet friendly!  I don’t understand why anyone would want to disregard or disrespect somebody’s property.

I just got off the phone with Airbnb and for emotional support animals it seems that it works like this. If the person books an entire place or studio they do not have to disclose they have an emotional support pet. But if the place says no pets and it is not an entire unit or studio they have some say over emotional support pets. 

If the place is listed as entire unit, is an apartment or studio they have no say in the emotional support pet being there, and do NOT have to disclose about the emotional support pet prior as that leads to judgement for disability. Many hate on emotional support pets on Reddit. I understand there are people who take advantage but there are definitely people who don’t. 

In NY and California you cannot charge over an emotional support pets but in other states you might to a certain extent. If emotional support pets are renting entire unit again, they are allowed to be there and the pet DOES NOT have to be disclosed prior. 

Level 10
Gros Islet, Saint Lucia



The information that the CS rep shared with you doesn't fully coincide with the formal Airbnb guidelines regarding ESAs.  Since the training and understanding of policies varies greatly among the the CS team, you should always first consult the Airbnb Help Center and Airbnb Terms of Service for official and documented Airbnb rules and guidelines.  A search for emotional support animals will display the current policy.  Even after reading any document where Airbnb references law, I would do further research to confirm what's legal.  Airbnb's policy implies that hosts in California* and New York have to automatically accept an ESA without recourse, and that is not accurate.  A host with listings in these states cannot charge extra for an ESA, but they do have some the right to ask for additional documentation and third-party verification of the guest's disability and need for an ESA. 


Although there is property type restrictions in New York there isn't a comparable stipulation in the California ESA policy that only hosts of shared spaces or experiences are allowed to decline an emotional support animal.  


  • What we allow:
    • Unless the reservation is a stay in New York or California (USA) or another location where applicable law prohibits it:
      • Hosts may charge pet fees for a guest who is traveling with an emotional support animal
      • Hosts are allowed to decline the presence of emotional support animals from a stay or Experience


* If the California host allows the ESA to stay with the guest.


Considering I was specifically looking at NY it does seem to coincide. Also it is not legal to ask for documentation even if you do have it as: “ESA laws also protect the privacy of an ESA owner. Landlords are not allowed to request specific details regarding an ESA owner's condition, and they cannot ask for medical records or a medical examination. ESA owners have a right to protect sensitive and confidential information regarding their disability.” 


In NY if you book entire place to yourself and there are no other guests your emotional support pet does not need to be mentioned prior and it is not against their policies. In No Pet buildings in apartments and Airbnbs ESA are protected if they are not shared. You’re saying that the very policy you’re saying matches what I’m saying and then you just simply say “that’s not accurate” without any other information to back that up. Also what you’re saying for verification is literally against the law. Maybe you wish they had that right but they don’t. They actually do not have the right to see your medical documents even if you’re willing to show them. Every other thread knows these laws that I’m mentioning and maybe you think that sets hosts to be taken advantage of but they are laws for a reason so people with disabilities do not get discrimination. On top of that if you book an entire place. You should NOT be seeing the host, have surprise visits and they should NOT be interacting with your ESA. Unless the animal is causing disturbance or unhinged the ESA is 100% welcome even in a No Pets if you book the entire place. I just don’t think you seem to know the law, have better information than Airbnb customer service and seem to judge those who have disabilities. 

Level 10
Gros Islet, Saint Lucia



You did not indicate that your comments were specifically for New York.  You also mentioned California.  The following is the very last paragraph on the NY State document about service animals that posted on the Attorney General's site.  Tell her that it's illegal to ask for documentation.




The Federal Law supersedes the company policy, State and local laws.

Correct finally someone who gets it 😁

Do you think the federal law supersedes for all states? I mean, it's federal law! We had a guest turn up with a "service animal" and when we asked her for a deposit after asking if it's a service animal, she attacked us stating we can't ask her to verify if it's a service animal or ask about her personal health issues (we didn't ask about her health issues). She instant booked and turned up with a Pit Bull with a vest.  We weren't home but on camera all we could see was the woman and the dog - it was late at night. I would hope that she's an honest person and that he's trained and certified. However, she  turned the whole thing into a lawsuit against us and Airbnb. She's suing for damages - she stayed, was refunded, was not forced to leave the property, was not denied equal access etc (everything she is alleging in the lawsuit) ... such a nightmare! 

It's federal no charge in the United States