Potential Scamming Opportunity with Airbnb's 28-Day Nonrefundable Booking Policy

Perhaps it’s not a scam, but I almost refunded someone before their stay. About 3 days ago, we got an instant booking for a 28-day stay starting next week (today is Friday). Today, the guest requested to cancel, and according to my flexible cancelation policy, guests can cancel up to 24 hours before check-in, which is perfectly fine for us. We get a lot of same-day bookings and we’re not in this for the money.

Unbeknownst to us until today, Airbnb’s long-term stay policy, 28 days or more, guests pay the entire amount which is not automatically refunded upon cancelation. The guest asked if I followed this policy. To be reasonable, and honestly, I’m not always sure I want someone staying with me for 28+ days, agreed to honor our the flexible cancelation policy and refund her the money.

But here’s where the scam can get real. The guest asked for a refund, but I have nothing to **re-**fund. Airbnb holds payments in escrow until the day after check-in. So I suspect, the potential scammer is hoping an unsuspecting host goes ahead and initiates a refund, sending money the host has not received from the guest yet to the guest.

Anyway, I did not do this, I will wait until after the funds are released into my bank account before I refund anything.

Has anyone else run into this? I didn’t know Airbnb over-road hosts’ chosen cancelation policies for stays longer than 28 days. Is this to protect the host? Or to just make hosts like me crazy with having to make more calls to Airbnb asking for clarity?

1 Like

No … I don’t think that’s the case. No one who hosts in Airbnb will do such a silly thing . I think they were referring if you agree to refund them but through Airbnb

You can send (or request) money via Airbnb. I am not sure what the timeline is for that (is it immediate or takes a few business days). If a request to send money to a guest would go through before funds are released from Airbnb’s escrow, I wonder if the guest can make the same request to Airbnb… but now I that I’ve thought this through a bit, I suppose they’ve already paid, so I’m getting the money one way or another. But I still don’t feel right sending someone $639 until I know that money has been deposited into my bank account first.

I guess the booking seemed a little suspicious since it was for exactly 28 days, booked so recently, and canceled so quickly. But I guess people’s travel plans can change just as quickly.

I don’t think it is a scam. Some guests don’t know any better and think you already have the money and you do the refund. When this happens I tell them to contact Airbnb. They are no longer my customer. They can be handled by Air.

Just don’t do it early yourself, because it will come out of your next payout.


or payouts if the amount is larger.

1 Like

Exactly! …

Seems like it was an honest mistake on the guest’s part. I explained that I will refund the money as soon as it appears on my account. She thanked me for understanding. We’ve had a few suspicious bookings and inquiries, so I’m usually I little cautious.


The guest has paid, airbnb has the money, ring the office and they will fall over themselves to return the guests money.
Of more concern is “the guest requested to cancel” I hope you didn’t accept the request to cancel, this will mean you have cancelled the booking and will be punished.

Yeah, never ever front money to someone canceling! First of all, why? Why do the courtesy when they are not your customer any longer? Second of all, you could have more cancellations down the line, which could mean you personally have just written a generous check to a stranger.

I just tell the guest to contact Air to cancel. I have not been paid for you so I have nothing to do with the cancellation procedure.

1 Like

That’s what I tried to do, but Airbnb passed the buck (so to speak) back to me. Their policy of over-riding my cancellation policy is a bit annoying. I’m probably fortunate the guest is being nice about it. Some could get testy. Guests are often surprised hosts don’t get the funds right away.

1 Like

Oh yeah, that is the outrageous part. Happened to me…

Customer cancels due to stupid reason (you are not in xx town and I wanted xx town— for the record I was in xx town, the guest was an idiot.) I agree to give some back, not all. I tell the guest I can’t do it right away but I will do it when I get paid for their reservation which is two months away. Guest continues to hound me for the money, worrying I ripped him off. Or plan to. Even though I am under no obligation to refund a penny to the bozo. No amount of explaining will do. I tell him I didn’t get paid for him yet and there is nothing to refund! Guest opens case on me to force me to refund early on strict policy. I get a call from a sheepish CSR, asking if I would be so kind as to refund early!!! ROTFLMAO. You must be joking, was my response. You mean just write a check to this person out of my next few payouts??? Really?



Be sure not to refund him the Abnb fee which you will never see. His cost for his mistake. And it does sound a bit scammy to me.
I would try to get Abnb to do the refund.

Thanks so much for this post and alert to this situation. I have not had any long term rentals through Airbnb (been renting for 5 years) but have some through VRBO and HomeAway where I have the guests sign a short term lease with very specific terms and provide a security deposit which I hold in escrow. I currently have two travelling nurses staying with me for April & May - they wanted June but I said no deal since it is high season and we make more money with STR. I have had a number of scams from HomeAway which has been noted in other posts that asked me to send my personal information for them to send a check from the Ukraine - REALLY - you and Vladimir think I am a total fool. Like @konacoconutz I have a strick cancellation policy so no dice with complete refunds.

Turns out this was less of an issue than I expected - but it’s good to be cautious. Scams are all over Airbnb.
There was a fake listing out our town I reported. It was so obviously a scam I would almost blame the fool who made a reservation. Luckily it came down quickly.

I did learn however that Airbnb overrides hosts’ cancelation policies for reservations of 28 days or more and requires full payment. For our needs, I find this very unfair for guests. While I can appreciate that some hosts rely on monthly bookings, I would say the average booking with us is 1-2 nights, anything longer than 1 week being an exception. I suspect that is common since I’ve never stayed longer than week anywhere.

This particular booking was from a traveling nurse. We’ve hosted a few traveling nurses - all of whom have been amazing guests! It was her sudden request to cancel, and the coincidence that is was for 28 days that gave us pause. We have a flexible cancelation policy and have no issues letting people cancel up to the day before. In some cases, we got a new booking right after! Once we even refunded someone who did cancel the same day (less the fee) just because she communicated her dilemma.

I know every hosts’ needs are different, but I don’t like this blanket policy. It creates more work and transferring money back and forth. It might compel me to put a 27-day limit on reservations just to avoid this.

1 Like