I’m going to try and make this as succinct as possible, but there’s lots of moving pieces to this situation that may make that difficult to do. I really appreciate anyone taking the time to read through this.
Even though my rights to an Emotional Support Animal are protected through the Fair Housing Act and Airbnb policy, I specifically filtered for listings that were pet friendly when looking for a place here in Colorado. The listing that we booked did not mention an additional pet fee nor any mention of any requirements for notification regarding animals.
The host of this pet-friendly rental (let’s call him Ryan) who was the property manager and not the owner, initially told us that the rental would be ready at 5:30 PM, but when I messaged him and his wife (let’s call her Dana) yesterday morning (the day of check-in), his wife responded that she was “almost done” and would “have it ready by 1:30”. When we showed up with our puppy (fully house trained, mind you), Dana commented on how cute the dog was. She gave us a brief walkthrough of the rental and then left, stating that if we had any questions or issues that her husband would handle it.
At first glance, the listing seemed alright. However, as I was starting to unpack, my wife showed me that the floor was dusty and dirty, the couch was different than the one in the photos and stained with black spots and some whitish liquid (not even going to venture to guess what it was), my dog found a pill (not sure what kind of medication) and was going to eat it before my wife got it out of her mouth, under the bed was disgustingly dirty, we were missing the amenities described in the listing (TV in the bedroom, no soap, no toilet paper, etc.), and all the furniture was old, broken, mismatched and obviously found on the street or secondhand.
I contacted the host, but got no response. My wife decided to try and clean the apartment in the meantime (took about 3.5 hours). When the host finally got back to me, he stated that because we had “asked for early accommodation” (remember how the rental was supposed to be ready by 5:30 but they changed it to 1:30?) they had decided not to have the rental cleaned before we arrived. He also offered to stop by in a few hours, which I accepted.
Not being fully aware of Airbnb’s policy regarding cleanliness and listing discrepancies, I called customer service and filled them in, but said that I would like to try and work it out with the host in the meantime. He came over, acknowledged that it hadn’t been cleaned, and asked what we wanted to do about it. He did not act apologetic nor did he apologize at all even until now.
We stated that we would like to make this work, but we would need a new couch along with compensation for a whole day being spent cleaning the apartment and dealing with this issue. He then decided to bring up that he wasn’t aware that we had a dog and that they would need to charge us pet rent, a pet fee, and increased rent. I told him that because our dog was an ESA, that she is not a pet and is therefore exempt from extra fees and restrictions that would apply to pets. Also, even if she wasn’t, the listing said it allowed pets and never stated that there would be these extra charges anyway.
When I tried to pull up the page regarding Airbnb’s policies regarding discrimination and assistance animals, he refused to look at them and said he didn’t care about Airbnb policy. The same thing happened when I brought up the Fair Housing Act. He then stated that he would present our request for reparations to the property owners, and then they may or may not approve the dog. My wife pointed out that he was basically blackmailing us into asking for little or nothing in compensation or they would reject the assistance animal, which is illegal.
At this point, he said that this wasn’t going to work and that we needed to leave before storming out the door. However, he didn’t try to force us out right then (thankfully). I called Airbnb right away and explained what happened, and the representative said that he cancelled the booking stating the assistance animal as the reason, and that because of the discriminatory nature of this case I would be contacted by the legal team within an hour or two for further assistance and “rebooking assistance”. This was around 9:00 PM. I never heard from the team at all, so we ended up having to stay with some acquaintances in the area on their couch.
I contacted Airbnb again this morning (many times, as I had to explain the whole story over and over to new representatives who would transfer me to another new representative), before finally being told that the booking was cancelled. Airbnb offered a $173 credit to make up for the issue (my booking was over $3,000 and we had already cleaned the unit), and sent some “similar listings in the area”. All of the listings cost more than $6,000 for the same dates, and they were one bedroom options as opposed to the two bedroom that we had originally had. Many of them were also missing amenities such as laundry, kitchen, pool, etc.
I hated the idea of taking up legal counsel yesterday, but after making me jump through so many hoops and the negligence to communicate with me in a timely manner, I’m seriously considering it as an option. I don’t know where we’re supposed to stay tonight and I can’t afford any of the listings that are available in the area. What would you do in this situation?