I hosted an Airbnb guest who booked our home for five people. He then had his entire club team from the Virginia Commonwealth University stay in our home. They did damage to our home by making holes in walls, smashing windows, breaking furniture, etc. Airbnb will not consider receipts we provided for the damage because they are not on company letterhead. We live in a small town of 6,000 people and our dry cleaners have no computers for this. They will not explain the process of documenting damage so our cleaning crew can be trained by vocational rehabilitation. Our professional crew is from Autism Enterprise and they hire adults living with autism. For example, damage to the sheets was photographed on the bed and someone from the Trust and Safety Team wanted all four sheet sets photographed in one photo over ten days after the issue with the guest. The Trust and Safety Team asked for links for replacement items and then used links that were nothing like the item that was damaged. They asked for reports and invoices from carpenters and then denied everything on report after the guest admitted to damaging our home. I’m still waiting for a response but Airbnb seems to be unethical and unaccommodating of people with disabilities.
My host was lovely at first. She simply reached out to me to confirm that I was traveling alone, a non-smoker and had no pets. I confirmed that I did not smoke, but let her know that I did have a well-trained, quiet and calm service dog. Then things started to go south.
First, she indicated that she would have to confirm with the “owner” whether my service dog would be admitted. I’m a lawyer, and when I calmly pointed out that it was technically a violation of federal law and clearly a violation of Airbnb policy not to admit Huck (my dog), she started to argue. She told me that no private owner could be required to admit pets. I responded that Huck was not, in fact, a “pet.”
Next, she told me I’d likely be charged a cleaning fee – another blatant violation of Airbnb policy. Then, she switched channels on me and claimed that “some owners” have severe allergies. I said of course I would understand if the owner had a bad allergy, but I was confused since the listing was for a building entirely separate from the main house, with granite floors. I encouraged her to review Airbnb’s newly-minted non-discrimination policies, although her responses repeatedly demonstrated complete ignorance of her responsibilities as a host.
Finally, I posted the full text of the policies in a message – to up her odds of bothering to read them – at which point she interrogated me about my disability. She was rude, inconsiderate and ignorant. Ultimately, she allowed my request to expire, even though our conversation took place over the course of four hours. I reported her to Airbnb and the Virginia Fair Housing Office, although I’m not hopeful that any mitigating action will be taken.
Poor Huck and I were just looking for a quiet spot for a couple weeks – on a horse farm in Virginia, no less. No such luck. If you have respect for the rights of the disabled, stay away from this host.
I tried to book an Airbnb in Norman, OK for three nights in mid-September with someone who has a no pets policy. However, I have a service dog. A real, bonafide, has to be with me, medical alert, highly trained with impeccable manners, service animal as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. As a courtesy, I told the host that I would be traveling with my service dog, so she would not be surprised. I later received a reply that she had accepted a long term rental last week. The property still shows that it is available for the dates that I requested in mid-September. If I am truly not welcome there, I am not going to force the issue, but if she is in violation of Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 she should be made aware of her legal liability in situations such as mine, as should all Airbnb hosts. If there is a good reason that a property stays listed as available, even though it is not, I would like to know it. If you are not familiar with the ADA of 1990 I encourage you to research it (although I would be very surprised if this issue has not arisen before now). In it, it is stated specifically that I cannot be treated differently than any other customer, by any business anywhere, because I have a service animal with me. I cannot be given a table in the back because of her. I cannot be charged a pet deposit at a lodging. I cannot be refused any service, or entry to any place that I would be allowed to go without her because she is with me.