Am I Being Discriminated Against?

18 Replies

So I'm a house-hacker that is actively offering on a second investment property. I have a bit of land lording experience under my belt, but still have yet to go through any real problems. I've got a tenant in place, and while I still don't know what I don't know, have attempted to educate myself over the past year pretty thoroughly on the ins and outs of real estate investing.

Yesterday, I attempted to rent out a house in a ski-resort town near Denver for a weekend with some friends. The home was advertised on Airbnb, I met the qualifications for the number of guests advertised (10) and submitted my money. 

However, the lady then told me this:

I think we are going to have to pass on renting to you in February. My parents are really new to this, but just don't feel comfortable with such a large group at this point. Its really set up more for 1-2 families than for a large group of friends. 

They didn't specify families in the ad - and my group was clearly within the advertised number of guests. I believe that the reason I was turned down was, "You are a kid, and you are bringing other 25 year olds to our nice place and will trash it. We don't want you." To me, that seems unfair (and illegal?).

Anyways, I'm not the kind to go after this person, just wanted to vent and hear what others had to say about the issue. Is this allowable, fair, reasonable, or what?

Would you want to rent your nice mountain house to a group of 25 year olds?  I wouldn't.   So yeah,  probably being discriminated against,  but I wouldn't get too upset about it.   Just find another place. 

I see both sides of this. I have booked trips just like this in the mountains for friends through property management companies so there is no measure of who is coming. But in the new peer to peer world we live in that is highly unregulated, we see this happen. Although it sucks and is unfair to make an assumption on what the people will do while in the house, you have to move on. The people renting the place aren't prepared to be in the "business" of renting their place out so they make decisions that feel comfortable - right or wrong.

Recent news stories of houses getting wrecked on Air B&B do not help your cause.

Originally posted by @Ross G. :

Would you want to rent your nice mountain house to a group of 25 year olds?  I wouldn't.   So yeah,  probably being discriminated against,  but I wouldn't get too upset about it.   Just find another place. 

You're right - I wouldn't have cared if I could easily find another place - there just wasn't anything comparable available.

It is very nerve racking renting out your home, especially when you are new to it. It feels much more personal when someone trashes your vacation home, rather than your long term rental. They put a lot of work into furnishing it and see it as their home.

I just had my vacation home trashed for the first time. (Like the horror stories you hear of). Horrible experience. Makes you want to never rent to anyone under the age of 60. I have a min age of 25, but some even have 30. I rarely rent out to 10+ people. It would have to be a family or multiple good reviews on Airbnb.

That said now you know what we go through when deciding who to rent to, and try very hard to do our due diligence to vet each renter just as you do with your tenants. Just empathize with the decision they are making and reassure them with the fact that you are a landlord yourself. I love when someone tells me about themselves and that they are a rental owner.

I totally understand them. There's not much vetting involved with Airbnb and just yesterday I read an article about someone trashing an apartment at a New Years Eve part, with 100 guest. I would not rent to a group of 10, because there's no way I'd believe that there wouldn't be some partying involved - since you're on vacation. 

I was 25 a while ago ,  knowing what I use to do at that age , would I have rented to me? Hell no .     ( I did have some fun , never destroyed anything but we were loud  )   Even most  car rental companies have a 24 year old requirement . 

@Scott Trench -- Here is my comments, based on the age argument:

  1. Age is not a protected class under Federal Fair Housing. In some states (for example, California) age is a protected class. You'll want to check in Colorado if that's a protected class. I don't think Colorado has age as a protected class, but you'll want to double confirm. If it's not a protected class in Colorado, then you can't call it discrimination according to law.

Hope that helps! Btw -- I'm turning 30 today, so I'll take 25 over 30 any day :).

unfortunately the fact they are renting their home & not a unit within a 4 plex or larger they have the right to discriminate. Unless AirBnb has regulations.

Age is not a federally protected class. I do not think it is on the state level in Colorado either. So discrimination.

They must have caught the news last night because there was some horror story about airBNB. Apparently some 18 year old ended up renting this persons home to throw a party and destroyed it. 

I'm just a few years older than you, and I would have issues with renting to a group of 25 year olds who are friends. 

@Scott Trench   I would think daily or weekly rentals all have the  ( we can refuse service to anyone rules)

But househacking which I think means live in one of your 4 units when you own a 4 plex

is a super idea for those getting started and I think its even better that you can then legally discriminate in picking your tenants.. great way to get started and be uber careful who you rent to since your living next to them.

@Scott Trench - I am sure it feels very frustrating.  For our long term rentals - we have a no more than 3 roommate rule. (adults living in the home that do not share credit). I haven't looked into Air B & B regulations, but it is still a fairly new frontier for everyone. I hope that you find someplace else that is amazing!

I feel like I had the same thing happen to me before. If any of your friends are female, I'd have them create an Airbnb account and try to book the house again.

Maybe offering a security deposit or some kind of signed document would have made them feel more comfortable. I've done yearly trips for the past couple years in the mountains with friends and when I initially talk to them I let them know that we aren't partiers and will take good care of their place, which makes them feel better about renting to younger people. 

I believe @MJ 

@MJ Barnett

is correct.

Landlords are allowed to discriminate when renting out their primary residence or owner-occupied duplex. It is one of the few exclusions to the rule.

So these folks are ok if they are renting out their primary. Now if it is a full time air bnb that they do not themselves live in then I don't know...

Scott, as one of the other posters mentioned. If you owned such a property would you rent it to You and Your 25 year old friends or to two married couples with a 3 or 4 kids?

It's not personal my friend, it's just business. Good Luck finding another place.

It takes years for people to really get comfortable renting out their vacation property, no matter how much you tell yourself it's a business it always feels personal. To be honest it's very normal for people to consider who they will and will not rent to on Airbnb. I'm 25 too, so I understand, but you really just want to think about how you're presenting yourself. Saying "we're responsible" and "not partiers" is not going to cut it. And be honest with yourself too, will your 9 friends really treat the place with the utmost respect? People have very different ideas at this age about what is clean and respectable, especially people who don't own.  Do you really want your reviews on Airbnb to be based on their actions?