Built by owners, for owners.
Replies: 7 - Pages: 1 - Last Reply: Dec 27, 2018 9:33 PM by: Ross C
BlueMtnCabins
Registered: 6/6/16
New website scam -

Someone in "Say No to Vrbo" group received papers.

https://www.mikedubose.com/posts/the_dangerous_new_legal_scam_targeting_your_website

Paul W
Registered: 6/9/09
Re: New website scam -

We saw that story here as well. The correct answer here - ignore it. The author of that article says the exact opposite, but he's wrong. Wringing your hands and paying attorneys is an utter waste of time and money.

There is no legal standing for ADA against VR's or VR websites and no judge would allow the case to continue. No ADA attorney would waste time actually filing a case. They're just mailing letters to see if they can get a quick reaction. This has been done against many other types of businesses and websites and failed. ADA trolling does work against actual store front/commercially-zoned businesses, but not against VR's (which are zoned residential) and never against websites.

There is no legal requirements for ADA against any type of website (no matter the type of business) and ADA does not apply to vacation rental properties anyway if they are zoned as residential homes (which virtually all of them are).

We actually looked into this a few years ago and contacted the Department of Justice (the ADA office) directly. The told us that vacation rentals do not apply to ADA and are not subject to any ADA requirements. This was after a user got into a fight with a guest over whether they had to accommodate a service animal when no pets were allowed. The DoJ told us directly that the service animal did not have to be allowed because ADA does not apply. Even if you are running the residence "as a business", ADA still does not apply because the property is not zoned as commercial property.

508 compliance also does not apply to our app, websites or any of our users' websites. Section 508 only applies to federal government websites and, in a limited sense, to federal contractors who do work for the government. There is zero reason to worry about 508.

The author is also wrong in stating that "users would love for their website to be compliant". No you wouldn't. Having been involved in the technical aspects of 508 compliance in the past, I can tell you that it creates terrible websites and leads to wooden/brittle functionality. In order to fully pass all screen-reader tests, web pages have to be changed substantially and most modern functionality removed. You get old-feeling clunky buttons and grids where every action you take leads to a full page redirect. Quickly sorting or scrolling calendars/grids would all have to go away.

But what WCAG 2.0? Again, no legal requirement whatsoever. It's nothing but a technical spec from the W3C about some best case practices if you're so inclined. It's primarily used by government entities (who are required to be 508 compliant) to help them get to 508 in a clean way. The "settlements" over WCAG that the author mentions are just that - government entities/apps that had to comply and ended up agreeing to WCAG specs to make the dispute go away.

Ignore the ADA trolls. They will not spend the money to actually file a case because there's no legal standing for them to move forward on.

Or if you want to have some fun, maybe send them this: https://www.ruindays.com

PS. A quick note on not allowing service animals. While that is 100% true - you can stop them and the ADA office will back you up on that - there are major channels that force users to accept them as a matter of the channel ToS. Airbnb is the big offender here (shocker!). Airbnb does not care if ADA applies; they will still fine/punish/ban you from their channel if you don't allow service animals. So watch your back on that. Just because you have the legal standing doesn't mean the channel won't give you crap about it.

BlueMtnCabins
Registered: 6/6/16
Re: New website scam -

Thank you for such detailed update. I do not freak out easily but these days, everyone is sue-happy as you know. And I was like OMG, my site is NOT compliant.

Interesting take on ADA /service dogs. I think the consensus in the forums (esp Say No) is that you MUST take a true service dog.
Mine are no pet properties (even though I love pets, used to have 2 dogs and 2 cats, now 3 cats). I have not (yet) had a true SA request, they all turned out to be just fishing expeditions by people trying to bring their pet. Easily filtered out by asking 2 questions.. or someone saying that they will "crate" their SA.. Since true SA must accompany their owner at all times, "crating" was a dead giveaway.
I was little unclear on ADA/ SA because I thought it does not apply if you do not rent "commercially". I have 3 VRs and it would be hard to explain that they are my only 2nd home etc.

Paul W
Registered: 6/9/09
Re: New website scam -

It does not matter how you rent or the number of rentals you have. The only thing that matters is how the property is zoned. The VR company in question had 20-some properties as rentals, many of which are large and accommodate 15 or 20+ people. None of them are 2nd homes or "vacation" homes for the owner. It doesn't matter. The properties were built according to residential zoning/building requirements and therefore do not apply. There is an ADA office at the DoJ that will tell you this directly.

Service animals fall under ADA and are also not required by VRs for the same reason - we asked about that specifically.

But again, if Airbnb or the channel hears about it, they could ban you so you have to think about the advertising side of it. But legally, you're fine. At the time, a person at VRBO said that they would only enforce what was "legal" but VRBO tends to change with whoever is manning the CSR desk at the time.

Ross C
Registered: 6/25/18
Re: New website scam -

I am not convinced this is true at all. For example a Bed and Breakfast, which is zoned residential, is only exempt for an owner occupied, single family dwelling with 5 or less rooms. This is very discussed on a bed and breakfast forum I follow. An airbnb renting out rooms, especially if owner not live there, is very subject to this.

Private entity. check
place of lodging. check.

https://www.ada.gov/lodblind.htm

"Your establishment is covered by the ADA as a place of public accommodation if it is a private entity and is a place of lodging (including inns, hotels, and motels), regardless of whether it is a for-profit or non-profit establishment. The ADA does not cover owner-occupied establishments renting five or fewer rooms."

Ross C
Registered: 6/25/18
Re: New website scam -

[quote=Paul W]We saw that story here as well. The correct answer here - ignore it. The author of that article says the exact opposite, but he's wrong. Wringing your hands and paying attorneys is an utter waste of time and money.

There is no legal standing for ADA against VR's or VR websites and no judge would allow the case to continue. No ADA attorney would waste time actually filing a case. They're just mailing letters to see if they can get a quick reaction. This has been done against many other types of businesses and websites and failed. ADA trolling does work against actual store front/commercially-zoned businesses, but not against VR's (which are zoned residential) and never against websites.

This is also not true. It is a potential against any business website in this country. The place I work at is small, and they are working hard for the Section 508. There are many articles about the explosion of real lawsuits against companies with websites that aren't compliant. I am not talking about mass mailings threatening action, I am talking about in the courtrooms. They are expensive to defend and expensive to fix a website after the fact.

https://www.foxbusiness.com/technology/company-websites-that-arent-ada-compliant-becoming-litigation-targets
http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2018/01/06/ada-website-accessibility-lawsuits/id=91700/
https://www.mightycitizen.com/insights/articles/will-your-website-get-you-sued

Ross C
Registered: 6/25/18
Re: New website scam -

Regarding Service Animals, the ADA exempts in certain situations, for example at a school with children having allergies, service animals can be banned. Or a zoo with animals that would react against the presence of a dog.

I have two properties that will be hypoallergenic and i ban service animals. It is not possible to clean a house top to bottom between someone with a service dog and then the next guests with deathly allergies to dogs. So this is what I am doing:

1) My contract makes it clear they are banned. I am assuming this will block many fake service animals. I also assume it will prevent some real service animals.
2) If someone shows up with an animal, I will grill the owners to ensure it is a real service animal. Essentially, you ask the two legal questions, and watch for behaviour that is wrong (jumping up, untrained, aggressive towards others, etc.)
3) If they make it through these hoops, I will just accept the service animal, thoroughly clean the rugs and hope the next people didn't book expecting dog dander free.
4) If they did, I will tell them I was forced to accept a dog against my policy, and I tried to clean as well as possible
5) My agreement states that we cannot guarantee a hypoallergenic place will be dog free, as we cannot guarantee someone did not sneak in a dog without out knowledge. It is a goal, not a guarantee.
6) If there is a complaint from an OTA, I will play dumb and show them the law and that my place is hypoallergenic and that I wasn't really aware of the OTA ban, I was just following the ADA guidance directly from their site.

if you string together enough low probability cases, I think it helps.

Actually, homeaway also requires allowing service dogs. https://help.homeaway.com/articles/What-is-HomeAway-s-service-animal-policy

The OTAs stupid threat without understanding either ADA law or reality.

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