Airbnb canceled reservation due to listing not ready at check in time

I wanted to share this experience I had.

Guest A instant booked a one-night stay with me and said she will arrive by dinner time. Cleaning company had a busy day with many places to clean that day so they could not prepare my studio by check in time.

Guest arrived one hour after check in time and studio was not ready. Cleaning crew told her it will be ready in 30 minutes. She sent me angry messages and phone calls and I told her it will be ready shortly.

She called Airbnb and Airbnb canceled the reservation and Airbnb gave her a full refund and charged me a $100 penalty as categorized it as a cancellation by host. I will still be superhost due to the number of stays I have hosted (one night stays are good for this).

I called the guest back when the studio was ready (1 hr 30 min past check in time). Guest left the property and found another place to stay. I requested Airbnb that please don’t count this as a cancellation by host. The rep did not agree.

Yes, it was my responsibility that the listing was not ready on time. Airbnb wants me to refund guests for stupid reasons claiming I should refund them on humanitarian grounds. However such humanitarian grounds don’t apply when hosts make an error. It clearly shows how much Airbnb favors guests. Any mistake by host will be penalized, but guests can get away with a lot.

Guest did not leave me a review. I will still be a SuperHost but this experience confirms what I have read on this forum: Airbnb is an advertising and payment platform. Expecting anything more from them is unrealistic.


Sorry I think Airbnb were correct and the guest had a right to be upset @house_plants

Why would you wait until the guest tried to check in to tell them your place wouldn’t be ready?

Of course you should refund you weren’t able to offer accommodation that was available at your agreed check in time

If you had contacted her in advance to let her know and offered to pay for meals or drinks, while she waited you may have had a different outcome.


Correct decision by CS this time.


If I were you, I would deactivate IB. Airbnb is all about the guests, I don’t ever feel supported by them as a host : (

I have felt very supported lately by the CS, I had few cancelations by guests asking for refunds after they canceled and none were refunded, even after their multiple tries with CS.

Just few days ago I had a guest that canceled and had some silly story why he can’t make it, and requested a refund. After I declined the refund he then after 5 minutes could still make it to my place and I declined to host him, I blocked him. CS contacted me and asked if I am willing to do a refund or let him stay in my place, I said no and they fully supported me.


I’ve been reading more and more outcomes like this lately. It might just be getting through to Airbnb that it isn’t okay to hand out refunds like Santa hands out candy canes. Maybe since they now offer travel insurance, they are less likely to give unwarranted refunds. Knowing Airbnb, they probably get a cut of the cost of the insurance, so would be encouraging guests to use it, rather than try to scam a refund.

As far as the OP’s situation, I agree with others here. Not having the the unit ready for an hour and a half past check-in time is not at all okay, when the guest already arrived an hour past check-in. It’s really not much different, as far as the guest is concerned, as the host simply cancelling last minute. Some guests might take it in stride, and go hang out in a cafe until the unit was ready, but many guests may be tired, just want to check in and relax, and be rightly upset. And I don’t understand why it matters whether Airbnb calls it “humanitarian grounds” or host error.


If you knew well before check in that the room wasn’t going to be ready and your cleaning crew was running behind, you should have told the guest about it right away.

I’ve checked in to plenty of hotels where the room wasn’t ready. However, there was a bar, or a cafe, or something was offered. You don’t have that amenity and didn’t say “Hey there’s a cute cafe down the street, please wait there and when you arrive, I’ll have a $25 gift certificate waiting for you.”

That would show me that the host is going over and above for the guest.


It was my fault… I don’t check with the cleaning crew when the studio will be ready because they do a pretty good job. This was only the second time that they failed to get it ready by check in time. The other time guest complained and I offered him a refund of the cleaning fee.

I didn’t inform the guest in advance and that’s something I will do if I have a situation like this.

Now I’m very careful about hosting guests who ask for a late check out as they could land me in big trouble like this. Now I decline and block guests who inquire about for early check-in or late check-out.

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This has happened only once before so I didn’t think through this. I will do this the next time.


That’s a bit… harsh. Why do you not discuss rather than block and decline?


You could just set your check in time for later in the day and notify guests if it’s ready early.

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I agree with Rolf, that’s a strange attitude. While guests asking for you to make an exception for them right off the bat can be a sign of an entitled attitude, sometimes it’s perfectly understandable that they might. For a family flying in early with 2 little kids in tow, who are tired, cranky and hungry, it isn’t so easy to just meander down to some cafe and hang out for an hour or two. Instead of declining and blocking them, as if they’ve done something offensive, if a guest asks to check in early, you can always suggest to them that to ensure they can get in early, they would have to book the night before.

It also seems odd that you don’t have an arrangement with your cleaners to let you know when they are finished, regardless of whether they are normally on time. In this present case, it sounds like the cleaners didn’t even let you know they were running late, so you could contact the guest. Instead they were running so late that even though the guest arrived an hour past your normal check-in time, it still wasn’t ready.
While the unexpected can always happen, I don’t really understand why you didn’t right away offer her something in compensation, as others have suggested (a refund of the cleaning fee, as you said you offered a past guest when this happened doesn’t really cut it- you need to offer something to make the guest comfortable if they have to wait- paying for their dinner and transportation to get there if they have arrived without a car, for instance). Just expecting them to stand around waiting isn’t very hospitable.

I realize that good cleaners are often hard to come by, but it sounds as if these cleaners have taken on more jobs then they can effectively handle responsibly. Being late might have only happened to you twice, but chances are, they have also been late getting other clients’ units done on time, too. And that they didn’t notify you when they knew they were late getting there and knew they wouldn’t be finished by check-in time is rather irresponsible.


i think that you realise that you brought this problem on yourself but I agree with @Rolf. To decline and block guests who ask for an early check-in or late checkout is not going to do your business any good at all.

It will be better to simply organise your system.

I’ve hosted guests who have had similar experiences - they’ve arrived at their accommodation to find that it’s not ready. And in every case, they’ve called Airbnb asking to be accommodated elsewhere.

As one man said to me “First impressions count and if they can’t even get the place ready on time, what else have they forgotten to do?”

You can see how the OP’s guest felt that way, especially when it was the cleaning crew who she had to be told by, rather than the host or co-host.

Plan the final walkthrough for check-in time minus fifteen minutes.


In my past experience if I decline but don’t block the guest is still able to instant book. If they check out late, I will have more problems similar to the what I had with this guest. Unfortunately (for me), there are many hosts who believe offering early check in/late check out is the right thing to do and I have too many guest who expect it.

Although I explain within a day of booking that early check in/late check out will not be possible, many guests ask on the day of check in/check out. I hate these guests who ask for it even though I have already told them no. I take good care of them in the reviews.

Some of my less than five star reviews have been from guests who wanted early check in and late check out. These types of guests cause me losses long term and I don’t want them.

Agreed. I have done something similar by moving check out time a hour early so it gives the cleaning crew some margin.

I agree that that’s what they need but that is not my problem. My check in and check out time is posted in the listing and I remind them those times within a day of booking as well.
If my check in time does not work for them, they should book something else. There are many hosts who provide a free night in the form of 8 AM check in and 9 PM check out. This family should book with those hosts.

There are too many variables, if someone on the cleaning team has a day off, how many other rentals need to be cleaned that day, how big of a mess those guests leave behind. If it happens once a year, that is acceptable to me. The last time it happened was over a year ago.

I posted here to get the perspective of other hosts and I see that all hosts think this is unacceptable. I spoke to the cleaners to inform me if they have an issue like this, they need to tell me in advance so guests don’t get an unpleasant surprise.

I think the early check in late check out type of guest is bad for business and I don’t want them. This problem in OP was caused by some guests at another rental that checked out late with a mess and it took the cleaning crew more time. I cannot entirely avoid these freeloaders but I will try my best.

I like the higher search placement. By and large, most IB guests are good even if they have no previous reviews. I don’t host a large property with precious stuff inside, so I don’t have to worry about significant damage.

I definitely won’t be offering any refunds to guests for any reason. I need to recoup this loss and keep a buffer when such issues happen again in the future (they will, it’s just a matter of time).

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See fairly new guest guarantee


There are? There may be some, but I doubt there are “many”. My check-in, check-out times are quite broad, as I homeshare, work from home, and leave a prep day between bookings. So check in is 11am-11pm, check out by 4.
But I don’t get the impression that is very common.

Yes, that’s probably accurate. Just looking at the number of early check-in and late check-out demands I get, many guests expect it to be available like water and electricity.

I don’t offer it as it leads to problems and losses. And people expecting free nights are not the type of people I want to deal with.

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I’m wondering if this host even does a walkthrough, but they should, and should make their check-in time later if the cleaners are having problems.

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If your cleaners are like mine, during peak rental season they have multiple rentals to clean & flip. If one was vacated by a horribly messy, destructive guest, their schedule is wrecked. I hold my breath every turnover day.

This summer was an experiment and I hired a service. It’s expensive, causes anxiety, and one more thing to coordinate. As of 8/1, I’m returning to my old ways.