Vacation Rentals, Opportunities for Accommodations but Great Risk for Barriers to Access. What is the Law?

By Mark Potter

Vacation rentals typically consist of regular housing units that are rented on a short-term basis (less than a month). Before the Internet existed, vacation rentals were mostly rented by property managers specializing in short-term rentals — and in areas that were in high demand for family vacations such as snow ski and beach areas. The Internet and the “sharing economy” changed all that. It’s now easy for anyone to market and rent their properties. Vacation rentals have been well publicized lately, especially with the hugely successful initial public offering of and the recent failed Proposition F, which was designed to restrict short-term rentals in San Francisco.

Vacation rentals typically provide accommodations that are difficult to get at a hotel. They are great for larger groups because they can all stay and hang out in a house or apartment where they’ll be able to use the kitchen and other rooms, for example. Unfortunately, vacation rentals are overwhelmingly inaccessible, falling well short of the requirements found in the ADAAG standards. In addition to having the same needs as anyone else utilizing a vacation rental, persons with disabilities are more likely to be traveling with an attendant who would also benefit from having more rooms than offered in a typical motel.

The question remains, though: Do vacation rentals have to be accessible? The quick answer is yes. The ADA applies to vacation rentals — just as it does to hotels or any other short-term rental facility. As with any business open to the public that existed before the ADA’s implementation, vacation rentals must be compliant with the ADA so long as it is “readily achievable.” To determine if it is readily achievable, one compares the cost of compliance with the financial wherewithal of the responsible parties. There is no set formula to determine readily achievable. Indeed, there are a number of factors that go into determining whether something is readily achievable.

If you have had problems renting an accessible vacation rental, please call us at 800-383-7027. We will explore whether your civil rights have been violated and whether we are able to help. There are no out-of-pocket expenses for our clients.

One thought on “Vacation Rentals, Opportunities for Accommodations but Great Risk for Barriers to Access. What is the Law?

  1. Ava Ivy

    My husband is a 100% disabled veteran, and I rented a condo on Airbnb. The owner did not disclose that the unit was not accessible on his listing. There were approximately thirty stairs to get to the unit. My husband was unable to access those stairs. I was forced to look for alternative lodging for us for our 20th wedding anniversary. I have reached out to the owner of the condo for a refund since we were unable to stay in his unit, and he has never responded. Am I able to recover this money?

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