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?

35 Replies 35

Many here are replying in regards to an Emotional Support Animal. 


To be succinct...


An emotional support animal is NOT the same as a service animal. 


They are two different categories of animals, with two different purposes, and as such, with the exception of New York and California, fall under two different sets of rules. 


A guest with a service animal does NOT have to disclose to the just that the service animal is accompanying them, and a host may not deny a guest because of their service animal, or provide differential treatment in any way. A host also MAY NOT charge extra fees, animal fees, or any additional fees because of a service animal. 


The host MAY ask if the service animal is necessary because of a disability and which services that they are trained to perform. 


The host MAY NOT ask to see them perform the service or really anything further than what I've mentioned above. 


Again, an ESA is different than a SERVICE animal, is NOT considered a pet, and does NOT have to be disclosed AT ALL (but it is encouraged for the sake of transparency).

Thank you for shedding some light on this. I host in California and just leaned as I had to study up on the policy after a guest snuck an unregistered pet in, that was identified as ‘animal’ by my door camera. 

What’s challenging to reconcile is, no matter what classification, there is added cleaning involved and guests who may be negatively impacted if that cleaning isn’t done properly. It’s only after  animal accompanied stays that my cleaners charge additional fees.

The same as the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). That does not mean a guest can do whatever, such as leave the animal unattended while the guest goes out. Be on furniture and in sleeping rooms if the host requested that and is in their house rules.

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.



The Host who is allergic (especially Home Share/Rooms Hosts), can ask for an exemption "proactively" from Hosting Service Animals or ESAs (you would have to provide proof of this allergy to Airbnb).


You can also ask for an exemption if you own pets that are not friendly with other animals and fear for your safety, the safety of your pets and the safety of the Service Animal Owner and their Service animal. 


Airbnb Policy - Service Animals Exemptions


Service Animal Exemption.png


This would need to be disclosed on your listing (House Rules). I would get the exemption in writing from Airbnb and hold on to that.


Level 5
Dallas, TX

So ABNB requires hosts to provide proof of their disability due to allergies, yet guests do not have to provide proof? Is that discrimination to the disabled host, requiring proof?

Level 2
Panama City Beach, FL

Then the owner should not allow transient occupancy.  If you're renting your home its no longer just your home its a business and if you the owner are highly allergic then this is not the business for you.  

Level 2
New York, NY

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.


Level 2
New York, NY

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.

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.
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.

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 1
Denver, CO

The Americans with Disabilities Act states that no business shall deny someone services if they have a service animal with them. Therapy dogs are under another guideline altogether and don't have the same protections. There is a difference between the two.  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. After that, you are expected to provide them with the same service as you would anyone else. With that said, your guest with the service animal should definitely be letting the host know of the service animal before hand, and, if your specific place cannot accommodate a service animal, they would have the opportunity to find another airbnb host that does, therefore airbnb hasn't violated any laws. If they just "show up" and you cannot accommodate, I would notify airbnb immediately and it would be their responsibility to re-place them at a location that can accommodate. If you decide to allow the service animal, and they didn't let you know before hand, I would definitely put that in the review. They should be letting people know. Just like people with service animals do when they fly, etc. 

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. 

Level 1
Kahului, HI

Actually they don’t have to disclose they have a service animal at all

Yes they are AFTER they book, but not BEFORE booking.

Hi @Karen3929 

I don't believe they are required to disclose a service animal at any time (before booking or after)? Most legit owners with certified service animals do let Hosts know they are bringing a service animal.


The Airbnb Community Guidelines for Service Animals do state:

  • What we allow:

"Guests are allowed to be accompanied by service animals during a stay or Experience and are not required to disclose the presence of a service animal before booking."


There is nothing further that I have found that states specifically they must  disclose a service animal after  booking in Airbnb policies (but I could have missed it). 


Service Animal Policy


If you have found a reference in Airbnb policies that states a Service Animal must be disclosed after  booking, please let us know and provide the link to the policy, as it could help other Hosts. In any case, I would be very cautious any time you are dealing with a guest with a service animal as to what you say verbally or in a message to a guest. 


(This applies to U.S. Listings)