What is Airbnb’s ESA Policy?

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Jan 27, 2024

Airbnb has taken the travel market by storm by providing travelers with alternatives to traditional hotel and motel stays. In certain cities, an Airbnb stay can be cheaper than a hotel or offer more amenities, such as the use of a kitchen or multiple rooms for a family to stay together.

While hotels usually have clear, company-wide policies that you can easily check online or by calling, Airbnb is more complicated. Since each property is unique and you can often find yourself staying in someone’s home, there isn’t always an easy answer.

In this guide, we’ll help you to better understand Airbnb’s policy for emotional support animals and how to ensure your next booking goes smoothly.

What’s An ESA?

ESA stands for emotional support animal. This describes the unique relationship between a human and an animal that helps manage the person’s mental health. People with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other psychological conditions can benefit from an ESA.

If you and your doctor believe an ESA would be beneficial to your health and well-being, they can write you a prescription for an emotional support animal. You can then have your emotional support animal registered, which can help you protect your rights when it comes to housing and accommodation. Thanks to all the benefits, we recommend getting an ESA certification.

It’s important to note that in the US, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not currently recognize ESAs as service animals because they are not required to go through the same rigorous training and are not required to take a Public Access test. Thanks to the accommodation protection of the ADA, service animals are allowed access to any public space with their owner. 

While ESAs are welcome in many environments, unfortunately, since they are not under the same protection as service animals, some businesses may ban them. Laws also vary by state, so it’s a good idea to check the regulations near you or in your intended travel destination.

Can You Stay in an Airbnb with an ESA?

Fortunately, Airbnb has specific policies in place that help guests and hosts understand what is expected. While registered service animals can freely stay in any Airbnb without an additional pet fee, it’s a little different for ESAs, but a lot depends on the location of your stay.

Locations Where ESAs Are Less Protected

Since laws do vary by state and country (if you’re booking internationally), Airbnb has different standards. In regions where ESAs are not required to be accepted in public spaces, a host can reject the booking of someone with an ESA, citing that they are a pet-free space.

If your booking is accepted, they can also charge a pet fee, which is allowed by Airbnb’s policies.

Locations Where ESA Acceptance is Required

In some regions, ESAs have more legal protections, making them almost equal to service animals in terms of acceptance in public spaces. In these places, an Airbnb host will be required to accept your ESA and cannot ask for documentation proving your animal’s status.

A pet fee can’t be charged in these areas either, because they recognize an ESA is not the same as a pet. Guests with ESAs should expect the same treatment as other guests and receive all the same amenities during their stay.

Exceptions to Airbnb’s ESA Policy

Even if a host’s property is within a jurisdiction where they are required to accept ESAs, there may be some exceptions. Hosts are allowed to ask for reasonable accommodations from Airbnb, especially if they are hosting guests within their own homes. In some cases, hosts may have an exemption for hosting guests accompanied by emotional support animals.

How to Ensure a Good Airbnb Stay with an ESA

Just like any other guest, an emotional support animal is expected to be respectful of their surroundings. If a human guest causes severe disruptions, damages the property, or endangers other guests or the host, they may be ejected from a property. Similarly, an animal guest is also expected to be well-behaved during their stay.

Emotional support animals should be housebroken and properly supervised at all times on a host’s rental property, never left alone while their owner goes out.

The best thing to do is educate yourself on your travel destination so you can anticipate how ESA-friendly the local laws are. Then you can go into booking a room with more knowledge of what laws are protecting your rights in that region.

Before booking, especially if there is no specific ESA policy in a listing’s details, you may want to reach out to the host you intend to book with. You can explain the accommodations that you need and ensure that the space will be right for you and your emotional support animal.

Clear communication can help prevent misunderstandings and disappointments. This will help everyone have a better experience as a guest and host.

Travel with Confidence

More and more states and countries are beginning to recognize the unique role ESAs play in people’s lives. ESAs are more than just a pet; they provide therapeutic assistance. That being said, laws that protect ESAs and their owners can vary a lot, so Airbnb doesn’t currently have one blanket policy in place.

It’s important to be informed about your rights and communicate during the booking process to make sure you have the best possible stay with your ESA.

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