Endless grace period for guest to COVID-cancel...but not for hosts...WHY?

I have a vacation beach rental. There are really only 8 weeks of ‘season.’ I have about 5 weeks rented by families who booked before COVID. I understand and respect that they can cancel without penalty. When they booked, well before March, they could not have known. But now, we are entering the season. The guests can still cancel without penalty. WHY?? At this point either commit or cancel. But, as usual, the Airbnb policy is ANTI-HOST…I cannot cancel in order to free up the weeks for guests who want to commit. This policy makes ZERO sense!! If one party can cancel without penalty, why can’t both? VRBO - here I come!

It was my understanding that a host could also cancel penalty free, at least for the first 4 weeks of June. After that is a moving target, I’d guess because no one knows the what the situation will be this summer.

Reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before March 14, 2020, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020 and June 30, 2020, are covered by the policy and may be canceled before check-in. Guests who cancel will have cancellation and refund options, and hosts can cancel without charge or impact to their Superhost status. Airbnb will either refund, or issue travel credit that includes, all service fees for covered cancellations. In order to cancel under the policy, you will be required to attest to the facts of and/or provide supporting documentation for your extenuating circumstance.


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Seems like there is some conflicting info from Airbnb. You can still find this on Airbnb’s COVID-19 updates page.

APR 30, 2020

Hosts now have until May 15 to cancel 2020 bookings without charges or impact to Superhost status. Reservations must be booked before March 15.

The bold text is a link to the host’s Reservations page.

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ALERT: Something else that hasn’t been put out by Airbnb, but that hosts should be aware of- a host on the CC reported that she was told by CS (she specifically asked, because it had happened to her) that any reservation booked before March14 will be fully refunded if the guest cancels, regardless of your cancellation policy, or when the check-in date is, if the guest is willing to accept an Airbnb voucher for the full amount, instead of a partial refund. And in that case, they do not have to submit any documentation of an EC which would prevent them to travel.

HH_AZ - As of right now, according to @Vanessa with Airbnb support, my guests who reserved before March 14 (all with arrival dates starting after June 30), are still welcome to cancel penalty-free. There has been no date set by which they either need to cancel or commit (penalties are activated again). This is not true for hosts (according to Vanessa). If I cancel now in an effort to secure bookngs who are committed (obviously, if the virus ramps up - that changes things), I will have penalties. How is it that guests and hosts have such different expectations/standards?

Brian - Right and I think that policy was correct. I do not want to cancel these bookings. But, at this point, my property is reserved by people who can still cancel at anytime without penalty. If they are not comfortable with the booking, I understand - THEY NEED CANCEL, so that I have an opportunity to rent my property.

Muddy - I have no trouble believing this. Airbnb treats hosts as disposable.


Have you contacted your upcoming guests?

Our calendar was almost completely emptied over a 2/3 week period in March, the few remaining bookings begin at the end of July. I’ve been in contact with all of them, and so far all have confirmed that as long as they can travel, they’ll be honouring the reservations.

If things change, then maybe they will cancel, but then again our market doesn’t really support Strict cancellation policies (from any OTA) so they’ll get a full refund anyway, just as they can right now.

Speak to your guests. If they’ve doubts then encourage them to cancel while you can still rebook.

Which is why you should never put all of your eggs in the one (OTA) basket.

BDC & VRBO/HA have been far better with hosts during this past three months, by a long way.


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thanks for the update / clarification. I understand your frustration and am sorry for your situation.

  1. I offer the same advice that @JohnF has suggested; contacting the guests is probably your best AirBNB friendly recourse. Get your guests’ intentions and if they are unsure ask THEM to cancel to ensure they get a full refund.

  2. Or, as you stated, list on VRBO and wait and see if you get other solid bookings, then cancel on your AirBNB guests who have not provided their intentions*. Advise AirBNB of some Covid19 concerns for the reason you are cancelling. In prior topics others have advised that honesty is not always the best policy. It is not something I would do but to each their own

*I say intentions because no one is sure what situation we will be in July and August; that is a situation that we are all in.

I cancelled a mid-May booking with no repercussions using the host get out free card, so it worked for me.

I assume you did that before May 15, though. I wonder if any hosts have done it without penalty after May 15 and didn’t have to argue with Airbnb about it.

Completely understand your points and have similar situations. Question: are your reservations done with Instant book? If so, the Airbnb website states, up to 3 Instant Book reservations per year can be cancelled by the host with no penalties (no cancellation fee and calendar is opened). After 3, it says additional “penalty free” cancellations can be done but need approval by CS. I have not actually cancelled an Instant book reservation to confirm it works as stated on the website. Does anybody know?

Airbnb have absolutely no regard for hosts. I cannot Believe how badly we are being treated.
Without us they have no business.
I intend to join Bdc and hogs to never give another pound to airbnb.
I hope that they fall upon the sword they have used on us their loyal hosts

Yes. When you cancel, you must select the option “I am uncomfortable with this reservation” in order to get a penalty-free cancellation of an instant book reservation.

Right, before May 15. Their travel was for a graduation ceremony I knew wasn’t going to take place. I messaged them in advance and they agreed entirely.
However, I should have asked them to cancel on their end – they messaged me that Airbnb refunded them LESS the Airbnb guest booking fee, which seems pretty tacky.

Great! Thanks for confirming the details.

Hosts being treated like shit has slowly been ramping up over the years. I have had my room (i rent a room in a 2 bedroom condo) on airbnb off/on for 4 yrs. in the beginning it was great. if a guest trashed my room I could get compensated. airbnb would actually take into consideration reviews and such if they were inaccurate. like, in my first year i had a guest give me a single star for location stating it was too far away from Vancouver. (place is in Surrey). Now, we all know that we can’t exchange addresses or phone numbers or emails prior to a booking being reserved. but i also know that airbnb gives a rough location and i did my best to state the nearest metro station and was honest that it was a 35-40 min train ride in and a 15 minute walk to the station. PLUS. anyone with half a brain can go onto google maps and look up Surrey and Vancouver and see how far apart they are. So when they gave my location a shit review, i contacted airbnb, they reviewed my emails and removed that portion of his review. NOW, they don’t give a shit. I had a similar thing where my guest gave my location a 4 star because it was far away from her work.

I also hate the superhost review dates. My place often gets mid to long term rentals. (up to 6 months) as I get a lot of overseas students and people looking to move to this part of the world. Used to be that you wouldn’t lose your superhost status just because you hadn’t had a review in a few months so long as you had a long term guest during that time. Now they don’t care and even if you’re a great host you lost status just because you didn’t get a review in 3 months but have a guest that overlaps the review dates.

Hell, last year a family member died and i needed to cancel a reservation (wth 2 weeks notice) and airbnb threatened to remove my superhost status! i mean, wtf dude, i just told you that i lost someone and i need my place to host family members coming for the funeral.

they are so anti host its pathetic. someone should make a new platform…

People have been saying this for years. Fact is, there are lots of platforms that exist already, it’s just that we represent a very small portion of the market so other platforms don’t cater to us. I’ve said many times, when accused of being an Airbnb apologist, that I just don’t have other options. At least my room is completed separated from me with it’s own entrance. For others, renting out a room in their home, things might be very tough. It’s not the kind of rental I’d consider for the forseeable future.

@Rebecca_Heipel Well, they did change the criteria about a year and a half or so ago as far as the number of stays, so that hosts who rent long term wouldn’t be out of the running. All the stats are based on the previous 365 days before each assessment period, not just the 3 months. You need at least 3 reservations and 100 days booked in the preceding year. You still don’t qualify?
Also, they waived the # of stays for the April assessment and are doing it for the July1st one as well.