Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals, and Pets in Airbnb Listings

If you run a vacation rental, you might be wondering if you can refuse guests who bring pets, service animals, or emotional support animals. Even though there are laws and policies in place to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities, understanding the rules and guidelines for allowing animals in your Airbnb vacation property can be challenging.

Pets vs Service Animals vs Emotional Support Animals

Service Animal

A trained animal, such a dog, that has been taught to carry out activities for a person with a disability is called a service animal. These obligations may include, but are not limited to, guiding blind people, notifying deaf people, pushing wheelchairs, warning those with seizure disorders, or carrying out other tasks specifically related to a handicap.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects service animals in the US, and their owners are permitted to take them into public spaces like eateries, shops, and other public accommodations, including short-term rentals.

Emotional Support Animal

An animal that comforts and supports someone with a mental health issue or specific phobias is known as an emotional support animal (ESA). They are not trained specifically, unlike service animals, and can be any kind of animal, including cats, dogs, birds, even miniature horses. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) provide specific housing and travel safeguards for those who have emotional support animals.


An animal kept primarily for friendship or fun is referred to as a pet. Pets only provide companionship; they are not educated to carry out any duties or offer any special assistance or support.

Which Rules Apply to Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals, and Pets in Short Term Rentals (STRs)?

The specific state and municipal regulations may have different requirements for service animals, emotional support animals, and pets in short-term rentals. But generally speaking:

Service Animals

Service animals are regarded as working animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and as such, must be let to go wherever their owners are permitted on the rental property. This covers transient holiday rentals. A service animal is a dog (or, in some situations, a miniature horse) that has been specially taught to work for or complete activities on behalf of a person with a disability, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Emotional Support Animals

Landlords are required by the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to provide reasonable accommodations for tenants who have impairments, including allowing emotional support animals. Although there is some legal ambiguity over the applicability of this to short-term rentals, many hosts would rather err on the side of caution. The relevant laws and regulations established by each state and municipal government also affect whether the law is applicable.


Owners of vacation rentals are free to choose whether to welcome guests who bring dogs, as well as the kind, number, and size of such creatures. Additionally, they are free to tack on extra costs for animals.

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