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Airbnb allowing no-penalty cancellations for guests not agreeing to House Rules?

I just read on a local STR forum that Airbnb has stated verbally that their policy is to refund guests, entirely without penalty regardless of the host’s cancellation policy, IF the guests says they are cancelling because they can’t agree to the House Rules. They don’t need to specify which rule, or why or when they decided. For example, now they want to bring a pet, or want to smoke or want to have a party etc. If guests get wind of this, and they will, it’s really disadvantageous to hosts. Am I the last to hear this???

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I had my third reservation in my new place a couple days ago, then later in the day the guest canceled because babysitter didn’t work out. I have a strict policy and because it was within 14 days, Air gave the guests half of their money back/half would still go to me with the option for me to refund in full, which I did.

What does that mean- “Airbnb has stated verbally”?

Where, when? If you mean this is something a host was told by a
of customer service rep, that means nothing at all. CS reps are largely untrained, hosts know more about Airbnb policies than the reps do, and reps tell hosts all sorts of things which aren’t true.

But aside from that, Airbnb refunds guests at their own discretion, for all sorts of bogus reasons. This isn’t anything new.

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What’s the point of you having a strict cancellation policy if you are just going to refund guests anyway. @zillacop if you are going to do that just go for a more flexible policy.

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I agree with @muddy I wouldn’t give this third hand information information much credence @dianecurry . Its what its policy says that’s important. Not what a host on a forum aledges someone in Airbnb’s customer services has said.

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I re-read the original post and yes, someone in that group was on the phone with an Airbnb rep who told them it’s their unadvertised policy to refund, without penalty, any guest who says they cannot abide by the house rules. Seems a convenient place to hide behind and favor guests over hosts. However, I agree, reps will say anything, it’s unbelievable how widely the on-the-phone experience varies with Airbnb!

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Normally I wouldn’t give a refund, but they made and cancelled the reservation within about 10 hours and they weren’t scheduled to come for 12 days, so hoping I can still fill it.
I was a host for 3 years before the pandemic and in a different state. I think things may be different here, so I will be experimenting. What I don’t want is someone that thinks they can cancel 3 days before and get a full refund.

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Looks like the refund is what is in the Air policy - not some ‘special’ policy.

Flexible

  • Free cancellation until 24 hours before check-in (time shown in the confirmation email).
  • After that, cancel before check-in and get a full refund, minus the first night and service fee."

Moderate

  • Free cancellation until 5 days before check-in (time shown in the confirmation email).
  • After that, cancel before check-in and get a 50% refund, minus the first night and service fee.

Strict

  • Free cancellation for 48 hours, as long as the guest cancels at least 14 days before check-in (time shown in the confirmation email)
  • After that, guests can cancel up to 7 days before check-in and get a 50% refund of the nightly rate, and the cleaning fee, but not the service fee
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Then you should switch to the moderate policy, which is 50% up to 5 days before check-in. It’s a bad idea to waive your cancellation policy because it sets up guests’ expectations that every host should refund them in full just because they need to cancel. Then they get nasty when other hosts stick to the policies. “Well, my other hosts refunded me. You’re so greedy”.

Instead, offer to refund guests for the dates they cancel if you are able to rebook the dates. This holds them to the cancellation policy they agreed to when they booked, but shows that you are fair and not intent on double-dipping.

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With my other rental, once I did tell a guest I’d refund if I got booked for those dates, but didn’t get booked. They were fine with that.
I don’t intend to give refunds to people that cancel, it was the first one and maybe I was impulsive because they asked if they could get the full amount back.
I had strict cancellation at my other rental and want to continue with it. In AZ it might have been different than it will be here as there were lots of week bookings and you definitely didn’t want those cancelled at the last minute, but it was mostly people flying. Don’t think that will be the case here. It’s another learning curve.

I have offered to refund guests before. But that wasn’t in response to the guest asking. If they asked, I would only refund if I could rebook.

A couple of my offers were because the guests missed the first day of their 10 day-2 week booking through no fault of their own- one encountered an overbooked flight, the other’s plane had engine trouble and had to turn around.

In both those cases, the guests refused a refund, saying not to be silly, it wasn’t my fault and no reason I should take a loss (I get really nice guests, as you can tell).

In another case, I offered to refund her the last 3 days of a 5 day booking. She didn’t ask for that, just said she was going to move on- nothing to do with my listing (she left a 5*review)- she came in the hottest, humidest time of year and just couldn’t handle the heat, she was suffering. Because I rarely get bookings at that time of year anyway, I didn’t really care.

If it had been in the middle of my high season when dates would be booked if open, I wouldn’t have been so generous, because I would have missed out on bookings, since I don’t get last minute bookings. My guests normally book 2 weeks- a month in advance.

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The guest cancelled only 12 days before check-in, so was only due 50%.

I think you overlooked this

It was strict policy and 12 days before check-in.

We allow cancellations up until the day of with no penalty. I want to ask about reviews. Are we required to review a guest? What if we have nothing good to say but don’t want to post something negative? Sometimes people are just annoying. Othertimes, people do strange things and I wouldn’t want them to return but it may not bother another host. Your thoughts?

Yes you are. Reviews are for us, hosts. Not posting something negative is hurtful to hosts. Let other hosts decide what behavior is acceptable to them. Do not let the opportunity to help other hosts go away…

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@Judith_Brooks You aren’t required to leave a review, as in required by Airbnb, but shying away from leaving a review simply because it isn’t going to be glowing is a disservice to other hosts, rather cowardly, and makes a mockery of the review process. If every host and guest only has good reviews on their profile, there’s no point to reviews at all.

And guests need to know in what areas they need to improve to be a welcome guest.

Sure there are things that might bother some hosts and not others, but that’s for the other hosts to decide when they read the review.

If a guest wasn’t friendly and had poor social skills, that might be a guest that a home-share host wouldn’t want, but a host of an entire listing, who doesn’t have daily interaction with the guests wouldn’t be affected by it and might accept that guest.

So just review in general terms that most hosts want to know, no need to go into detail, as to how your experience was with the guest. Did they leave the space clean, did they communicate well, did they abide by house rules. A home
share host would want to know if the guest was intruding in the host’s private areas, an entire home host would be interested in whether the guest had unregistered guests and visitors over.

Guests can’t see the star ratings you leave them, but neither can hosts who don’t use Instant Book. So don’t be one of those hosts who leave low stars but a nice written reviews- that’s just misleading.

And most guests aren’t either all bad or all good. You can usually mention something positive along with the things the guest needs to improve on. Maybe they were total slobs and left dirty dishes, but they were very personable, had a great sense of humor, and communicated well.

If you really feel that something would likely only bother you, like they weren’t friendly to your cat, or they put the dishes back in the wrong cabinet, or left toothpaste in the sink, which happens to be a pet peeve of yours, then there’s no need to mention that in a review.

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@muddy
I have my own reasons for offering refunds, and I do so gladly, even up to arrival day. They are:
Freak snowstorms, forest fires, dense smoke from said fires. In case of a serious earthquake I would do the same. If there’s a fire in the region and/or wildfire smoke I contact the guest and offer them an easy out. Yes, Northern California. It has been a rough few years for fires here, and we all keep an inhaler and masks, handy. I would not want anything like that to lessen their pleasurable experience here.

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Look at it this way - what review from a prior host would you have liked to have seen for that guest - BEFORE accepting that booking?
.
That is the review that you write. Be honest - reviews are for hosts, not guests.

As others have said, you should always review guests. It’s part of a host’s job and the system really won’t work without honest reviews.

Sometimes I have read reviews that say “they didn’t take the garbage out” or “they arrived an hour after check in without letting me know” or “they sneaked in an extra person” etc. None of these things bother me but they’d bother other hosts enormously.

Hosts should just write the truth and let future hosts decide for themselves whether they are happy with hosting the guests. Just be factual and resist emotion.

I refund for guests who cancel but only very rarely after check in. For instance, I did when the AC packed in, in July, in South Florida. I had it fixed the next day and refunded the guests the one night that he’d been without AC.

But if they haven’t arrived yet, and their money is still with Airbnb I tell the guests that it’s no problem and that they should contact Airbnb for the refund. That way, the problem goes away for me and I can concentrate on filling the cancelled dates rather than worrying about refunds.

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TLDR: Airbnb will not enforce or respect your House Rules.

I recently had an issue where the 40ish year old guest booked for 10 adults. My house rules have clear instructions on noise levels (Noiseaware), no more guests than what you booked for (max of 10), number of vehicles in the driveway and so on - all because this is a very quiet, mature, residential area and I want to be a good neighbor.

So the first night (of 4 nights) they get loud outside during quiet hours, so I let them know. And I kindly remind them to review the house rules again and they acknowledged that they do. I noticed that they had one late arrival which puts them at 11 guests, but I brush it off as not a big deal.

The next day 2 more vehicles show up with a total of 4 more people, so now we are at 15 people. Unfortunately I don’t notice this until later in the day with my camera. So I send them a message that they are limited to the 10 guests on the reservation and they need to remedy by the next day. They say no problem - they didn’t realize the friends would be staying at the house as long as they did (not true based on them bringing luggage into the house).

So the next day at 11:30 they load up 7 cars with 15 people and head to the beach. They return about 3 hours later with exactly 4 cars (to meet the house rule) with 13 people.

So I contact Airbnb to cancel the reservation and remove them from my listing due to their consistent breaking of house rules. Airbnb tells me that they will get refunded for the night that they don’t stay, which I tell them is unacceptable since they broke the rules. They contact the guest and the guest lies about how the friends only stayed there due to bad weather and they didn’t know about the house rules. Finally the guest offers to pay an extra guest fee. This drags on into the final day of their reservation.

So Airbnb asks me “what is your extra guest fee? We don’t see one on your account”. Me - “I don’t have one because we cap the max occupancy of the property at 10.” Finally after multiple calls to Airbnb and never receiving a call back from the case manager, I decide on $100/day/guest. The guest agrees to pay $200, when the request was for $1000 (1 extra guest, 5 extra guests, 3 extra guests, 1 extra guest). Now I have spent the past 2 weeks providing photographic proof of the 10 extra guests over the 4 days and Airbnb will tell me “well the picture isn’t clear enough to tell which person that is…we can see it is a person, but not which person” - even though I made sure (and told them as such) to only provide photos of people arriving to eliminate any double-counting. So now I am at the point of giving them the actual video so they can see it for themselves instead of screen captures…stupid, so stupid.

So I have quickly learned that even though Airbnb has been cracking down on parties…it is on their turf and if you as a host want to kill a party at your property you are pretty helpless unless you live nearby.

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