As hosts, it’s crucially important that we are educated on the ins and outs of Airbnb’s policies so that we can best meet the needs of our guests. This is especially true when it comes to matters in which a guest would cancel a booking or try to get a refund, as we always hope to avoid this scenario if at all possible.
So, what is Airbnb’s guest refund policy?
According to the Airbnb website, situations that may be eligible for refunds are: The host fails to provide reasonable access to the booked listing.
The listing is misrepresented (ex: number of bedrooms, location, lacks promised amenities).
The listing isn’t generally clean, is unsafe, or there’s an animal in the listing that wasn’t disclosed prior to booking.
Additionally, in order to be eligible for a refund, the guest must provide documentation that they have tried to resolve the dispute with the host prior to contacting Airbnb.
A host should always be sure to understand the details of all of Airbnb’s policies. Not only is it the ethical thing to do and the best way to provide excellent service, but it also protects you from liability and financial repercussions down the road. Keep reading for a deeper look into Airbnb’s guest refund policy.
How Can Guests File for Airbnb Refunds?
As mentioned above, guests must meet the eligible criteria in order to receive a refund via Airbnb. They are obligated to prove to Airbnb’s dispute resolution system that they have already tried to mediate a refund with you, so you should try to make that work out if at all possible. It is better to give your guests a good experience dealing with you than a tedious experience dealing with customer service while trying to enjoy a vacation!
Guests are required to submit their claims within 24 hours of check-in or as soon as they notice an issue during their stay. They will be asked for photo documentation and any other proof of the issue at hand. They must also not have caused the issue themselves.
If Airbnb determines that the complaint is valid, they will either reimburse the guest for their stay or try to find them comparable accommodation for the remainder of their unused nights. As a host, you are responsible for any costs incurred and are required to pay them within 30 days of being requested by Airbnb.
As a host, you may dispute the travel issue. You are required to provide your own documentation that the issue was unfairly raised and that you attempted to remedy it with the guest prior to disputing. You’ll definitely want to try resolving the issue with the guests prior to using Airbnb as a mediator.
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How to Avoid Airbnb Cancelations
Obviously, avoiding the whole cancelation resolution process altogether is preferable. Some cancelations can’t be helped, such as those caused by extreme circumstances. However, you can help guests understand the reservation that they’re booking and therefore hopefully avoid cancelations at check-in or during their stay.
This should go without saying, but always be truthful in your listings. Do not attempt to stretch the truth about your accommodations by doing things like listing the living room as a “bedroom” or renting a bedroom as a “studio apartment”. Nobody likes to feel scammed, and as a host, it is your job to be as clear as possible to guests about what your listing has to offer. This avoids confusion later on, which in turn leads to happier guests and stellar reviews.
Highlighting the positive aspects of your Airbnb does not mean lying about the potential negative aspects. For example, if you are renting a bedroom in your home, advertise this as an opportunity to connect with a local and immerse yourself in the culture. Describing a small space as “cozy” still gets the point across, but in a positive way.
As always, open communication with guests is paramount. This includes clear listing photos and descriptions as well as honest responses to questions and feedback.
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Airbnb Cancelation Circumstances
Again, there are certain circumstances that may require either the host or the guest to cancel that cannot be helped. For hosts, these are outlined in Airbnb’s policies on extenuating circumstances.
Times where you may need to cancel unexpectedly include a death of a loved one, serious injury or illness, government obligation (such as jury duty or military deployment), unforeseen property damage, transportation disruptions, natural disasters, and more. In these cases, no penalties will be imposed for canceling a reservation. You will be required to provide documentation, and of course, as always, to communicate with your guests.
Other instances of penalty-free cancellations include when guests use the Instant Book feature, but you are uncomfortable hosting them. This could be due to negative reviews on their profile, lack of communication with you, or evidence that they are likely to break your listing’s rules. In these cases, you’re able to cancel the reservation without penalty up to three times a year (after three times, you are required to go through Airbnb’s customer service).
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As the host, you are ultimately in charge of your bookings. This means, of course, that you can cancel reservations whenever you want, but not without repercussions. If you cannot provide evidence of extenuating circumstances and you cancel more than 7 days before the stay, there is a $50 penalty. That penalty doubles if the stay is 7 or fewer days away.
You could be on the hook for some serious money, not to mention the negative reviews guests can leave if you cancel the day of check-in. On top of your penalty, you’ll likely be responsible for reimbursing Airbnb the cost of alternate lodging or the cost of the guest’s stay.
Unfortunately, guests will also have to cancel their reservations from time to time for various reasons. Unlike hosts, they are not usually required to provide any evidence of the reason for the cancelation unless they complain that it was the fault of the host. However, you can protect yourself by creating your own cancelation policies.
Hosts can choose from flexible, moderate, and strict cancelation policies. Flexible policies allow the guest to cancel up to 1 day before the reservation and receive a full refund. Moderate policies allow guests to cancel up to 5 days before their check-in and get a full refund. If they cancel within 5 days of check-in, the first night is not refunded and all subsequent nights are only reimbursed 50%.
Strict policies are the toughest. Cancelations must be made 14 days in advance to get a full refund. If the cancellation is made between 7-14 days out, a 50% refund is given. Once check-in is within 7 days, no refund can be given.
How Should I Set My Cancelation Policy?
Understand that guests, especially when traveling, encounter a lot of factors that may be out of their control. If you tend to book out very far in advance, you may be able to reasonably have a longer and firmer cancelation policy in effect. If you usually don’t book out more than a few weeks or so, guests will appreciate a more lenient cancelation policy.
How Can I Avoid Canceling as an Airbnb Host?
Be realistic and know how much your own personal schedule tends to change. Do you have a lot of flexible time or very firm commitments? Does your work or family often have issues come up that require you to be available quickly? If you have a lot of uncertainty, consider not booking out as far in advance so you can be sure that you’ll be available. Conversely, you may also consider booking only very far in advance, so you can structure your personal life accordingly.
Can I Offer Alternatives to a Guest if I Need to Cancel on Short Notice?
Yes! And you certainly should if at all possible. Remember that the guest is not obligated to accept your alternate suggestions and may still want to mediate the dispute via Airbnb. Consider offering a few alternatives that have the same feel as your rental so they still get the experience they hoped for.