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How much refund for a guest without heat?


Thanks for the later posters as well!

I was doing some back of the envelope calculating about the hardship the guests actually were experiencing. Guests arrived Friday afternoon and departed Monday mid-day. Here were outside temps:

Thursday 78/65 Rainy, hot, and oppressive
Friday 64/48 Partly Sunny (guests arrive at 3PM)
Saturday 57/44 Partly Cloudy
Sunday 58/43 Cloudy (this day was right crappy, cold, and miserable)
Monday 65/54 Cloudy (guests depart at 12:30PM)

The heat did not work since the time of their arrival, but they did not attempt to access it until 9AM Saturday morning.

Here were the respective house temps:
Thursday: 74 degrees (known because the A/C set to 74 on a hot day)
Friday: 70 degrees (extrapolated)
Saturday: 66 degrees (extrapolated)
Sunday: 62 degrees (known at 12PM during troubleshooting)

Guests attempted to set t-stat Saturday morning and left for event. They knew by 3PM Sunday (upon return) that heat was not working. Guests notified Sunday morning at 10AM. Space heaters provided (post-troubleshooting around 2PM). Space heaters bring temps up by 5 to 10 degrees, the stated temp in the rules.

Had they notified Saturday at 3PM, service would have happened by Sunday at 3PM (24-hour HVAC backlog), and the inside temp never would have reached 62 degrees (which is right uncomfortable). Therefore, had they notified Saturday at 3PM, the most discomfort they would have experienced is a house at 66 degrees plus 5 to 10 degrees added from 4 space heaters. Another thought, had they notified Satuday at 3PM, we may have snagged a spot earlier in the HVAC queue (they got backed up as more and more people turned on their furnace due to rapidly changing temp from Thursday to Friday).

Also, knowing Saturday would have given us time to find in barn or buy 4 additional space heaters so that all 8 rooms were handled (caretakers were out and about Sunday and there was but one day left of their stay).

So, guests failed to timely report, thereby causing their own discomfort as house temps dropped 4 degrees per day. I refunded 1/3 of one night.

Also, of note, I checked back on my actual short-term lease agreement and it states no refunds…which doesn’t mean anything in the world of customer service…but I can at least state it so that the guest is aware that I am doing it because I want to, not because I legally must.


Thanks for giving us a greater insight on the issue.


All it takes is for guests to send a 2 minute message to give the heads up. However guests don’t communicate! I will carry on encouraging guests to message me.


I think the fact that you charged ( or deducted ) for a late check out took away from your offer. I said earlier it was splitting hairs and wouldn’t fly. That was insulting to the guest… giving with one hand and taking away with the other.
I understand you are justifying and wanting agreement; I dont agree with you. Space heaters are fine for an emergency…but they are tacky, unsafe, and less than desirable, and not what I would expect on vacation.
I stand by my position of a 1/2 day refund plus the late checkout as an extra apology.
Let us know how it all turns out and if it was all worth the lousy review.


Georgygirlofairbnb: The 1/3 refund less late checkout was a done deal by the time you wrote. I would have considered not deducting the use of late checkout (which seems to have no value to guests) had it not been a done deal. On the other hand, it is a straw horse to which I can refund and make her feel like she “won”.

In fact, going forward, my immediate plan is to offer nothing (not the late checkout, the extra day, or refund) until situation is fixed and discuss later. Offering late checkout and extra day was a knee jerk response.

Two of our rooms always use oil-filled radiator space heaters to supplement the central heat. One is a bedroom which gets no HVAC air flow at all for some odd reason. The other room is the family room / kitchen where people (including ourselves) are always leaving through the back deck door, allowing in cold air which the t-stat on the second floor cannot read or adjust for.

On Saturday, the space heaters would have been more than adequate (in fact, it may have been too warm). On Sunday or in January, not so much. My reaction would have been completely different then. On the other hand, had she failed to report immediately in January, she could have frozen my pipes!

But, it was relatively warm outside on Friday and Saturday…and the house, now being able to evaluate the data–even without the furnace or space heaters–was at temp listed in the rules most of the time. With space heaters, it would have been above temp.

She did file a complaint (to which I must respond), but was told it is something we need to sort out ourselves. She has not yet made a review. She has reached out to me while all of this discussing was going on.


For those still watching and what to know how things turned out…

I answered the formal complaint. They stood behind me and would not intervene because I had done all that could be expected of me (fixed in timely fashion and mitigated while out of service) and guest was not entitled to refund.

Guest did NOT write a review.

I explained that timely reporting would have saved her from being so cold, and her own inaction caused the house to drop by 12 degrees. I said that even though I was not obligated to refund any money, I chose to do so because of 1) the nuisance of the invasion of the trouble shooters and repair person; 2) for 12 hours only (if she had timely reported) having to move the 4 space heaters from the night rooms to the day rooms, and only having 4 rooms at a time for 12 hours.

I went ahead and refunded the 1.5 hours of late check out that she used…just to get the point across that I do not have to but I wanted to.


@HorseFeathers I like some of it which you could use in your listing. my home is in Atlanta and they tend to get ice storms, so I’ve lost my power when guests were there. one of The guests was a friend, and I suggested that he go stay in a hotel but he decided to stay. If it was a “normal” guest I’d have to offer a cancellation and refund option, right? I don’t have space heaters ( to dangerous, in my opinion ), and the heat was out for multiple days. I keep hearing “no refund…ever”, but I’m facing another Atlanta winter and have guests booked for Christmas. You can’t force them to endure the cold…


I don’t think one night refund is too much to ask. I recently had a similar issue …

In October, I had a couple checkin on Thursday for a 5 night stay. When I checked with them on Friday morning, they advised that there was no hot water. I checked the water heater to discover that the controller (under warranty) had failed. A replacement wouldn’t arrive until Monday. After visiting several plumbing supply locations, and not able to find an in stock replacement, I informed the guests that it couldn’t get fixed until Monday. I gave them the following options:

A) a full refund, should they want to find an alternative place to stay.

B) use of a private guest room with en-suite bathroom in my adjacent house.

C) use of the en-suite bathroom of the guest room for showering while continuing to stay in the guest house

The opted for ‘C’. They said they liked the guest house too much to want to move. Since there is an external entrance (sliding door) to the guest room, they didn’t even need to come through my house, so we all maintained privacy.

Water heater part arrived on Monday, and was fixed by noon Monday.

They were very gracious, much more than I would have been. They were enjoying their vacation so much they wanted to stay an extra day and asked what the charge would be. I told them that there would be no charge for the extra day. When they discovered that the cost to change airfare would be prohibitive, they chose to leave as scheduled.

Before they checked out, I did provide them an unsolicited refund of one night for their inconvenience. They told me it was completely unnecessary, because they really enjoyed their stay, said that they plan to come back in the spring and have advised their friends and family of this guest house to stay at. They also provided a glowing 5 star review with no mention of the problem.

My point is, sometimes it’s more than the $, if you’re looking at the broader business picture.

Reasonable compensation for internet down
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