7 Replies Latest reply: Oct 25, 2019 9:35 PM by ohst8er RSS

    ESA/ Service animals

    u0999 Premier Contributor

      I want to hear from the moderators as this has not been addressed in TOS.


      According to the laws, a renter does NOT have to tell the owner that they even have a service animal and can just bring it along.


      Scenario: Renter A has service dog that they bring and not tell the owner; Owner does not know that dog was there. Renter B rents after Renter A. Renter B is severely allergic. Renter B suffers allergy attack and has to be treated by the hospital.


      Can Renter B sue the owner?


      Owner cannot do a deep clean after renter A because they don't even know that service dog was brought in.


      Does that mean Owner is opened to liability for no fault of their own?

      This risk essentially quadruples as many people now buy fake "ESA" papers for their pets and can bring them, and OTA force owners to accept. (true service dogs aren't that numerous)

        • Re: ESA/ Service animals
          feibus Senior Contributor

          Anyone can sue anyone.  So the question of "could they sue?" is immaterial.  The question you want to ask is: do they have a good case if they sue?


          IANAL!  But it'll depend on whether the owner advertises or promises in writing that the home is pet allergen free at all times.  At that point, it's up to the owner to provide what they're offering, regardless of circumstances outside their control.  The extent of liability might be higher than just refunding the stay's rental fees, but that'll likely be the lower limit.


          Take the service animals question out of the way.  Think about bed bugs.  Renter A brings them, they infest, a month or so later, they multiply in your home and then find a meal in a guest maybe 3 or 4 guests after the one that brought the bugs.  Owner has no idea which renter was the problem.  Current renter has grounds to sue.

          • Re: ESA/ Service animals
            wildiris Senior Contributor

            If you are worried that a renter won't volunteer the information that he is bringing a service dog, I suggest you ask him.  If he says yes, then you can ask him the following questions -


            1.       Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?

            2.       What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

            Added - then, if you are worried about other guests having pet allergies, you can notify them that a guest who stayed at the rental from such and such date had a service animal with him.

            Also, too many people (including vacation rental owners) don't understand the differences between service animals under the ADA and emotional support animals under the FHA.  They are very different and the legal requirements are very different.  You can find the statutes and regulations online and research them.

            You're never going to get a moderator to address a question of legal liability. 

              • Re: ESA/ Service animals
                u0999 Premier Contributor

                I understand the difference between Service animal (ADA) and ESA  (FHA) very well. ESA are NOT considered service animals (i.e specifically and individually trained to perform job or task for a person with disability related to that disability, which ESA are not). the ISSUE is that platforms (Airbnb being example) do not make distinction between ADA Service animals and ESA, forcing owners to accept the latter even though  we do not have to. And while TRUE service animals are few and far in between and I am ready to accept them as per law requirement, the fake "ESA" with "certificates" bought online for $25 from "certificate mills" have exploded and now every faker wants to bring untrained pet Frou Frou passing it for "ESA" because they don't want to pay for kenneling.

              • Re: ESA/ Service animals
                scowol Active Contributor

                u0999 wrote:


                According to the laws, a renter does NOT have to tell the owner that they even have a service animal and can just bring it along.


                This is an interesting statement as I've never seen this law written.


                Anyhow, there's no law that states that you cannot ask a traveler if they have a service animal. And there's no law that says the person with the animal has a right to not respond.  An owner of a business may ask a person traveling with a dog if the animal is a service animal for a disability.  For example, if a person walked into a restaurant with a Labrador, the host person is legally allowed to simply ask, "Is your dog a pet or a service animal?"  In this scenario, the person doesn't have a right to just ignore the question and barge past the host person and sit down.  The host person has a right to inquire and confirm.  That's not illegal. Once they confirm it's a service animal, then sure, they cannot deny service.


                On my SignNow RA, I have a required question that simply asks, "Will you, or any other authorized overnight guests, be traveling with a service animal?"  They have a YES/NO checkbox that must be answered, and then a conditional mandatory field that pops up asking for details.


                Asking is not illegal.  Requiring an answer is not illegal.

                  • Re: ESA/ Service animals
                    green_mango Active Contributor

                    I've not seen this law either - I've seen the Airbnb rule that says owners don't need to be notified of a service animal or ESA, but if it's a law I'd be interested in reading more about it.

                    • Re: ESA/ Service animals
                      wildiris Senior Contributor

                      Here's a link to the ADA regulations regarding service animals - https://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm

                      Here's a link to the ADA law - https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/titleIII_2010/titleIII_2010_regulations.htm


                      I didn't see any language in either the law or the regulations that imposes a duty on a person with a disability to notify the owner in advance that he will be bringing a service animal with him.  But, I didn't see anything in the law or regulations that prohibits an owner from asking a renter if he will be bringing a service animal.  As I said above, if this is a concern for owners - ask your guests the question.   (I think scowol's approach is excellent.)


                      I did note the following language in the regs -


                      • Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a homeless shelter, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.
                    • Re: ESA/ Service animals
                      ohst8er Premier Contributor

                      You know, we've already beat the stuffing out of this horse, buried it, dug it up, beat it again, lather, rinse, repeat.


                      Check out this thread.  The specified item was not found.


                      Pay special attention to what georgygirl1955 posted as the first post in the thread, which is HA's stance on service animals and ESA's.