Hospitalized guest - Now thumb wrestling with airbnb about $

A guest reserved a 2 month stay. They were hospitalized and contacted me to cancel the reservation 2 days before arriving. I have a firm cancelation policy, so I’m not obligated to refund their money.

The “Extenuating Circumstances Policy” Extenuating Circumstances Policy - Airbnb Help Center
“Examples of situations that this Policy does not allow cancellations for include: unexpected disease, illness, or injury;”

I asked the guest to pay for 1 week of their 8 week stay, even though policy says that I am owed the entire amount (if I’m reading it all correctly).
Airbnb gave the guest a full refund, citing the “Extenuating Circumstances Policy”, against my wishes.

This issue has been open for over a week. The first support person said I was 100% correct, but then they dropped off the case.

So then I wrote in the support thread that I no longer wanted to give a discount, and that I wanted the payment from the entire 8 week stay. My logic is that airbnb already refunded the guest the money. They are not going pull the money from the hospitalized guest retroactively. But airbnb policy says I’m owed the money and airbnb clearly acted against their own policy. I was totally willing to give a 88% discount to the guest. But I’m not eager to give that same discount to airbnb, especially after they ignored their own policy.

I have a hard time imagining that airbnb will give me the money from the full 8 week stay. But I’m not sure how they will wiggle out of it.

I also expect that no support person will want to take this case, so I’m expecting it to just sit in the queue for a ridiculously long time. But I’m doing a lot of guessing here. I’m quite curious how this will play out and I’m curious for any thoughts that you have.

-Host host


There’ a saying is that no good deed goes unpunished.

Your generous offer of settling for only one week’s payment might hurt you if you choose to seek dispute resolution because now Airbnb can say that only the one week of reimbursement is subject to dispute, the idea being that you agreed to that.

A dispute resolution would likely require you to pay arbitration fees. These might be capped now but not for long as the new changes to the terms of service did not include a provision capping arbitration fees at $200. See. About the updates to our Terms - Airbnb Help Center

So you need to decide whether to bring a case against Airbnb. Your first step would be a letter (‘the 30-day letter’) advising Airbnb of the claim and your intention to arbitrate. This costs you nothing. If you’re serious you should do this ASAP. See 23.3: " You must send your notice of dispute to Airbnb by mailing it to Airbnb’s agent for service: CSC Lawyers Incorporating Service, 2710 Gateway Oaks Drive, Suite 150N, Sacramento, California 95833 ."

Time is of the essence as the new terms of service kick in sometime after March 30.2023 unless you decide not to agree to them, which will ultimately result in the cancelling of your account.

I don’t know if the new arbitration payment rules will apply to you. Your claim arises under the current terms of service but its resolution will likely occur under the new terms of service.

If the new arbitration rules (i.e., no $200 cap on fees you pay) apply to you, you might well choose not to risk paying it to seek your claim resolution with an arbitrator (I wouldn’t in your situation because I’d be concerned that your offer to settle for one week might be an offer that Airbnb will say it relied on and to which they might argue you revoked too late (i.e., after they refunded the guest).

Your rebuttal, I suppose, is that Airbnb’s refusal to pay you the one week’s stay was a refusal of your offer, the non-payment to you further shows Airbnb did not accept your offer and that in fact nothing was paid to you and so the original terms and conditions of the reservation applies. I don’t know what the stronger argument is, whether reasonable arbitrators might disagree on your remedy.

Your first step (and it’s free) – and time is ticking – is to send that 30 day letter advising Airbnb of the dispute and your hoped-for remedy.

If Airbnb goes ahead in arbitration it will need to pay substantial arbitration fees also ( $1,700 is your filing fee, plus arbitrator compensation, $750 for a desk arbitration unless you can successfully argue that the old./current $200 arbitration fee cap should apply since the incident arose before 3/30/23 and therefore indisputably under the old Terms of Service).

→ So you might take that first step by sending that letter and seeing how Airbnb responds.

If Airbnb calls your [bluff?] by seeking arbitration, I’d probably pass (unless your fee is capped at $200) as I don’t know whether you’ll win.

But Airbnb might just pay you the money (seems unlikely to me), or offer you pennies on the dollar (they can calculate an offer that would be uneconomic to refuse because you need to pay the arbitration costs, say in the $2,500 ballpark,) to go through with the arbitration, say they’re willing to arbitrate, OR they could have you file your claim in small claims court.

If you end up going the small claims court method (check what the limit for which you can sue is in your jurisdiction, often a number like $10,000) you will have minimum costs to proceed. This might be your best bet but Airbnb needs to tell you to go down this route, that it is foregoing arbitration, before you can do so.

Since this is a long-term stay my understanding is that the cancelling guest here would need to pay for 30 nights. So that’s what you’ll argue is at stake.

Airbnb will likely argue that the one week of rental payments that you admitted you offered to accept and which Airbnb awarded is the amount in dispute.

→ It would be helpful to you to get Airbnb to explain on what basis it cancelled the reservation without penalty. You don’t want to be surprised with their answer later. Asking them might surface that they have no explanation under their policies (unless they do).

They can just ignore you, stop responding to you. How will they wiggle out of it? Easily.

There’ a saying is that no good deed goes unpunished.


What if it wasn’t an unexpected disease, illness or injury? What if the guest was scheduled to have surgery 3 months from now, but the hospital called and said they had an opening in two days?

Everything else is excluded.

This is one place where Airbnb is pretty clear.

Personal health conditions are not even a factor.

Five things are covered:

Changes to government travel requirements .
Declared emergencies and epidemics
Government travel restrictions
Military actions and other hostilities .
Natural disasters .

What’s not covered?



You are a GENIOUS!!!

Everything you said makes 100% sense. And you go into such incredible and perfect detail about so many of the possibilities. WOW!!!

In the end, I’m not playing hard ball. I’ll just fold and take the loss before going to court or anything like that.

I love your idea of asking them to explain the logic behind the cancelation.

The support person who I had was on my side. And then he dropped the ticket. I’m expecting that you’re fully correct in that they may just never have anybody take the ticket. They may just ignore this issue forever and never reply. And I can keep calling them back or replying occasionally to give them a hard time.

When I read “Firm” and “Long term firm” policy, it implies to me that it doesn’t limit the payout to 30 days, but I’m sure I’m just reading it wrong.

I LOVE your idea that both the guest and airbnb not accepting my first office is an equivalent of them legally declining it. At which point is legally makes sense for me to renege on the offer, since it was essentially rejected.

Thank you SO SO much for your incredible and detailed advice. And yes, I doubt I will see a penny from this. Not the worst thing in the world.

Once again, you are a genius and my new favorite person.


Post on Airbnb Facebook or tweet Airbnb

“Airbnb’s policy says bookings can’t be cancelled for illness, but Airbnb refunded my guest 100% for illness 2 days before check in. How can I host if I can’t rely on Airbnb published policy @Airbnb?”


That’s awful.

Did Airbnb SAY that is why they made the refund? Did you challenge them? What did they say in response?


And yes yes ever wise [HostAirbnbVRBO], I will send the letter this week to

No harm in doing that I assume. I assume that wouldn’t put my airbnb account at risk or anything like that (which would be life changing in a terrible way).

On the off chance this works out, I should pay you commission. Without you I would not have known about that approach or many of the other things you taught me.

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Airbnb is a good partner… except when they are not. You can’t 100% rely on them or them following their own published policy. The last time they didn’t follow their own published policy with me, it was a vastly larger issue than just money. But they are still far better than any other alternative (at least for me).

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You might choose to make substantive objections, rather than relying only on sarcasm.

Do you have a point to cogently make? Make it.

Stop crying and whining.

If Airbnb, all in all, is good enough for you, then it’s that. We get it.

You’re the whiner who complains about every little thing.

@HostAirbnbVRBO Perhaps you might simply ask other hosts if they would like advice on how to pursue something legally before launching into endlessly long posts covering every possible nuance and approach you can think of in excruciating detail.



I’m not being sarcastic. I mean it.
Airbnb has generally been a fantastic company to host for.
But in some cases, they mess up.

The largest problem I ran into (a substantive objection) is documented here…

99% of the time, they are wonderful. But the 1% often stands out. I could make a list of several things they’ve done that were unprofessional and problematic, but that would also risk doing exactly what you’re saying and would be me complaining about every little thing.

By the way, you are absolutely wonderful HostAirbnbVRBO!
I hear your criticism of me. And that doesn’t for a moment think of you as anything less than fantastic. I am extremely grateful that you shared the wisdom that you did about the puzzle that I’m looking at now.

By the way, I consider this issue (losing an 8 week reservation without compensation) to be a fairly minor thing. Totally an acceptable loss.

When they were repeatedly flatly refusing to remove my daughters gender and age from a public review, that was not a minor issue for me.

Anyhow, once again, endless thanks to you!
-Host host


I LOVED the detailed advice that HostAirbnbVRBO gave!!!

I also fully loved the great advice that you gave me when airbnb flatly refused to removed my daughters age and gender from a review.

You are both incredibly helpful and I am grateful.

HostAirbnbVRBO just criticized me a bit. I’m fine with that. Not a problem for me. I’m still super grateful to him.


It was hard to tell if you were being serious or sarcastic. At first I thought serious, but when HostAirbnbVRBO took it as sarcasm, I read it differently.

No worries muddy. It’s all good. :smiley:

By the way, if end up getting the 8 week or 4 week payout (as well as being able to rent the room in question again), I’ll throw a party. If I got that money, it would be 100% gravy. I don’t think the odds are high, but it’ll be fun to give it a shot.

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Hopefully you get some replacement bookings. I don’t know if you normally take long term bookings or not but among other reasons not to, the risk of a guest getting 2 months of rent refunded seems another good reason to avoid them.

I like getting your advice no matter what.

I like long term. I’ll take the risk. And I already have two little bookings that are starting to fill in the large hole.

I lowered my price by 8% to hurry that along and it worked.

The thing I don’t like about short term bookings is the gaps in between. And I don’t want to earn money by resetting a room (or paying another person to do that). It’s also just so much more work and more communication. I used to do vastly more short term. These days I try for long term in every way possible and I’m loving it! I’ll take the risk of a long cancelation here and there. Especially given that I have a firm cancelation policy.

In some ways, it’s less money. But in some ways, it’s more money.

And it’s VASTY less work, which is kind of what I care about most.

I also have a few rooms in the same house, and longer term often seems better for forming an actual fun little community for a while.

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An airbnb support person (as yet unnamed) promised to work on this issue tomorrow. I am oh so curious what they will end up saying.

Place your bets, place your bets! :smiley:


My minimum is 3 days, my max 2 weeks. Even though I leave a day prep time between bookings, I do find it tedious to have to clean between consecutive 3 day bookings. I don’t know how hosts who do their own cleaning and take one-nighters don’t burn out. I like the 10 day-two week guests best, which used to be the norm for me, I almost never got less than one week guests, but this season I’m getting a lot of 3 nighters.