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I have to cancel my guests reservation for a stay 5 weeks from now ! First time ever!

Hey members here. I hope you are all doing well and staying safe.

Am back here looking for help.
I have guests booked for our August long weekend.
Whole house rental. Place sleeps 8 and I agreed to 10 all good as there is room.
Had communication with the guest regarding the layout and how I could accommodate them.
It is a lot of money 10 people for 6 nights and I don’t mean to sound flippant but now the money is not the issue.

Having never done this before I am not sure how it works. I am composing my message to the guest with my sincere apologies for the inconvenience and have extenuating circumstances.
I am NOT booking out to any other parties at that time for more $$ but I am not going to mention that. Will just say I am not Hosting that weekend.

Also with Covid I am not comfortable having 5 different sets of guests coming from this province and the next door province. We are being encouraged to stay within our provinces. Also I have had a recent death in the family and the ONLY time my family can visit me is this particular weekend because their situation has changed. It means a lot for me to be with them and this is my last year in this home.
I realize this is not kind to the guest and am also thinking how I would feel if the tables were turned but with this whole Covid situation nothing seems to be the same.

Question is - what can I expect from AirBnB?
I do not have Superhost status it does not seem to affect my bookings.
Will guest be able to review if she couldn’t stay
Reservation is 5 weeks out and I can’t see anything available in my area.
Do I just go in and go to the “Cancel” reservation option and message the guest during the process?
Going to wait till Sunday morning as I don’t want her to get the news late in the day. Bad time for processing bad news.

If any of you fellow Hosts have any experience with this I please share and any advice is appreciated.


  1. Extenuating Circumstances. Air will ask you what, and you explain it just as you have explained it here. Air won’t be happy, but there’s not much they can say.
  2. Guests cannot review if they don’t stay.

Yep – just Cancel, and the system will ask you why, and you say Extenuating Circumstances, and explain. Yes, I would write the guests a detailed letter of apology citing “family issues” and send it just before you hit Cancel.

My question to you is what is your cancellation policy?
Will the Guests get back their deposit without penalty?

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Ken, the cancellation policy is only an issue if the guest cancels, I’m pretty sure. If the host cancels, the guest always gets refunded. Not sure about the service fees, but if they don’t get those back, if I were a host in this circumstance, I’d pay them.


Cancellation Policy is strict
I don’t know about the penalty that is my concern too. I am assuming Guest gets all of their money back including service fees. If not I would pay their service fees.

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Definitely seems the right thing to do. Will see what happens and report back.
Like I said this will happen tomorrow morning.

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@MaryJO I wouldn’t clutter up the issue with Airbnb by mentioning your family coming. They might jump on that as not being an EC, as if that’s the only real reason you want to cancel and the rest is just an excuse.
I’d stick to the out-of-province, 5 separate guest sets being against COVID directives in Canada- it’s a health and safety issue. (I assume you’re in Canada, if you are talking about provinces), as well as having a recent death in the family.


Thank you. That makes a lot of sense. The Covid related issue is enough. Much appreciated.

The guest only loses money if the guest cancels (and only sometimes even then ,) If the host cancels, the guest gets 100% back always.

You can request that Airbnb does something for the guest as well - “assists them in rebooking”, which usually includes some kind of credit kicked in by airbnb for the guest as well.

What will happen when you cancel is this:

  1. The dates will be blocked .
  2. There may be a fine of $50, but it will automatically be waived if you have had 10 stays without cancelling one or something. But if you wait until 7 days prior, the fine goes up to $100.
  3. The guest can’t leave a review unless you cancel on the day of check-in; however, there will be an automated review that says, “This host cancelled 5 weeks prior to the reservation” or thereabouts.

If it were me, my biggest concern would be the automated review saying that I cancelled a reservation. I would be afraid that it would make me look unreliable. But you can respond to it publicly and could say something to explain, though I think a lot of people will understand it is pandemic-related anyway and understand.

You could avoid all of these penalties (and having that auto-review on your listing) by contacting ABB and asking for a penalty free cancellation. You likely do have a EC case but they might just grant it without making you jump through any hoops. I had to cancel someone recently whose dates didn’t fit in the covid policy and they gave me a penalty free cancellation. They, as much as anyone, understand that everyone (hosts too) are dealing with a pandemic right now.

Alternately, if the reservation was instant-booked and you haven’t used up your online free cancellations for the year, that would be the easiest and quickest approach - you just have to click on “I’m uncomfortable with this reservation” (which you are technically) and it will process penalty-free.

edit to add: If you go the route of contacting ABB, which I 100% recommend, it could take awhile. When I did my cancellation through CS, it took 6 days total. As a courtesy to your guests, you might send them a note that you are going to have to cancel so that they have more time to prepare and book something else while you get the cancellation processed. You might get lucky, they might cancel for you and then you just grant a full refund and they will get 100% (but I wouldn’t count on it).



You’ll get an automatic review from Airbnb saying
“this host cancelled reservation.” If you have any type of proof to indicate it was extenuating circumstances, then Airbnb will remove that review.

Thank you so much for the advice.
I just got off the phone from AirBnB and they were very helpful and directed me on what to do on my end. They are taking care of the guest and the cancelation for me.
Very much appreciated and the Customer Service rep was awesome.


I’m glad it worked out!! Thanks for the update!

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This is all you need to say for the guests. Add the Covid info for Air’s CS. My deepest sympathy for your losses.

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