Let’s face it: dogs are really cute!

They are especially cute when they aren’t tearing up your Airbnb. Animals can cause a lot of costly damage, so it’s important to set correct boundaries.

But what about service animals? Obviously those with service animals have their rights that need to be respected and upheld, but you also have rights as an Airbnb owner/host.

So what are they? What exactly constitutes the difference between a service animal and a pet? What can you do to ensure rights are upheld on all sides?

Let’s start with the difference between pets and service animals. The Americans with Disabilities Act Network defines service animals as: “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability

Only specially trained dogs are recognized as service animals. (Though some states are beginning to recognize miniature horses as service animals as well and there are provisions for them given on the website. Yes, you read that right, miniature horses).

Emotional support animals are not currently recognized as service and as such you are not required to allow guests to bring them.

Service animals are allowed in all public facilities and all private facilities in which members of the public are allowed in. That includes Airbnbs. That being said, you are allowed to ask the animal to be removed if it is clearly “not housebroken or out of control and the individual [with a disability] is not able to control it”. The individual is also liable for any damages caused by the animal.

So how do you find out if a person booking your Airbnb is trying to bring a pet or service animal? You are not allowed to ask the person directly if they have a disability or what it is.

The Americans with Disabilities Act gives two questions you are legally allowed to ask:

  1. “Is the animal required because of a disability?”
  2. “What work or task has this animal been trained to perform?”

That’s it. No more questions! You cannot ask them to demonstrate the work or task.

One more important note: because service animals are not pets, you cannot add pet charges or fees to their stay. (If you allow pets in your Airbnb, check out our article on how much to charge for pets.)

There you have it! So, no matter how you feel about Spot staying the night in your Airbnb with his owner, these are the laws that need to be followed!

I hope this was a helpful article that shed a little light on the subject!

Happy Airbnb-ing!