According to a Rutgers University study, people with disabilities, depending on how ‘disability’ is defined, consist of between 12.6 and 18.7 percent of the US population. Airbnb has faced many accusations of discrimination against guests with disabilities – and even hosts with disabilities – over the years, and is borne out by this study which adds that potential guests who identified themselves as having disabilities were more likely to be rejected by Airbnb hosts.
It is generally agreed that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 applies to vacation rental platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo with the vacation rental property considered to be a public accommodation. Thus ADA’s accessibility and enforcement guidelines apply.
The only exception is a property that contains no more than five rooms for rent and is actually occupied by the proprietor of the establishment as a resident. Thus hosts offering private rooms in the home in which they reside will be exempt from ADA’s enforcement guidelines.
According to Airbnb’s Nondiscrimination Policy, Airbnb hosts cannot:
Decline a guest based on actual or perceived disability
Impose different terms or conditions on a guest with a disability
Ask guests about the existence or severity of their disability or how they accommodate their disability
Decide if their property meets the needs of a guest with a disability for that of the prospective guest
Prohibit or limit the use of mobility devices
Charge higher fees for guests with disabilities including pet fees for a service animal
State in their listing or make a discouraging statement that they prefer for or against a guest on account of them having a disability
Refuse to communicate with guests through accessible means available. For example, relay operators for people with hearing impairments or e-mail for people with vision impairments using screen readers
Refuse to provide reasonable accommodations
However, Airbnb hosts can:
Discuss if their listing meets the potential guest’s needs if they bring it up first
Provide factually accurate information about your property’s accessibility features or lack of them so potential guests can assess if your Airbnb is appropriate for their needs
Hosting a guest with a disability generally requires accommodations as you would make for any other guest, like allowing them to store their luggage prior to check-in. To ensure your property is accessible to each guest, provide clear and accurate information and communicate to confirm it meets their needs. Be prepared to:
Answer all their questions about your property
Accommodate reasonable requests like moving around furniture to create a path for a wheelchair or placing dishes on a low counter so the guest can reach them
Host a service animal
If you are unable to make certain accommodations safely or reasonably, don’t be afraid to communicate that to your guest.
The new Airbnb accessibility review process requires hosts to submit photos of the accessibility features of their listing so they can be manually reviewed by a specialized team of Airbnb agents so Airbnb can be confident that the features claimed by hosts are confirmed. This ensures that the information presented by each host is accurate and genuinely meets the needs of guests with accessibility needs.
According to Airbnb, their agents have confirmed the accuracy of 100,000 accessibility features in 25,00 homes around the world.
Select your listing on Menu
Go to Accessibility and click Edit
Select the room you want to add the accessibility features to and click Add
Select the specific feature you want to add. You will be prompted to add a photo
Click Save after adding the photos and captions
Airbnb requires hosts to add a minimum of one photo for each feature. The features and photos must meet Airbnb’s guidelines. Once Airbnb has confirmed your accessibility features, they will show on the accessibility features section of your listing.
Airbnb has updated its 13 search filters to be more prominent on the search screen and include specific details about each accessibility feature. For example, ‘bedroom entrance wider than 32 inches’ rather than ‘wide entrance to bedroom’.
Airbnb’s accessibility search filters for accommodation include:
A service animal is a trained animal, such as a dog, that is specifically trained to perform tasks for an individual with a disability. Service animals are working animals and are not considered pets. As such, they are allowed to accompany their owners in all areas of the rental property where guests are allowed, including common areas and amenities.
Make sure your listing's accessibility features are accurately represented. Provide a detailed description of the accessibility features of your listing and include photos of any accessibility features such as ramps, grab bars, and elevators.
Ensure your listing complies with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regulations. Check that your listing meets the minimum requirements for accessibility set by the ADA, such as door width, bathroom grab bars, and accessible shower stalls.
Be transparent about any limitations. If there are any accessibility limitations to your listing that you cannot change, be transparent and upfront about them in your listing description. For example, if your building does not have an elevator, make sure to mention that so guests can make an informed decision.
Communicate with your guest before arrival. Reach out before their arrival to ask about any specific accommodations or requirements they may need during their stay. This will help you prepare your listing accordingly and ensure your guest has a comfortable and enjoyable stay.
Provide additional amenities as needed. Consider offering additional amenities that may be helpful for guests with disabilities, such as shower chairs, bed rails, or visual alarms.
Be flexible and accommodating. Be open to making adjustments or modifications to your listing to make it more accessible and comfortable for your guest. This may include rearranging furniture, providing additional lighting, or adjusting the thermostat.
Overall, the key to hosting guests with disabilities is to be proactive, transparent, and accommodating. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your guests have an enjoyable and memorable stay at your Airbnb property.