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Reservation cancelled within 48 hours of booking but within 24 hours of checking in


I am new to being an Airbnb host and encountered a somewhat strange situation recently. Somebody booked my apartment on a Friday at 7 p.m. and then at 7:50 p.m. cancelled the booking. The booking was for the next day.

I have a moderate cancellation policy so Airbnb refunded the guest the cleaning fee but sent me the first nights accommodation. It was a surprising bonus.

Then the guest messaged me to say could I refund the accommodation cost because they had cancelled almost immediately and it was an error. I thought about it briefly and then checked their profile to find they actually had two properties in the same part of the city as I have. So my thought was they were actually trying to find out more information about the new competition and in making a booking trying to get the additional information.

I called Airbnb who said I’m under no obligation to refund the money and so I told them that.

They then contacted me and said it was my decision and anyway my booking policy says refunds up to 48 hours from the booking date. But of course there’s another policy that says if you cancel within 5 days of a booking you will forfeit the first night. Since that forfeiture was actually done by Airbnb it was following its own rules.

I have decided not to refund the money and will not enter into any further communication with the person since clearly as an experienced host it’s not a mistake they would have made normally. they even mention they had Airbnb properties and so were familiar with the cancellation policies. In that case they should know if you cancel within 48 hours you will lose your first night. That particular conditions override the 48 hours.

Appreciate what other post, it might be. Thanks.


Very strange indeed. Is airbnb legal where you are? If not they might try to get your address by booking and reporting you to the city… just a thought but maybe it’s not that.

Of course don’t refund them a penny and abide by your cancellation policy. Their mistake not your problem.


Honestly I wouldve just refunded. Such a short time. No work done for them. Just good will.


Was this an Instant Booking? If yes, Airbnb promotes instant booking by offering the 48 hour guest cancellation window and the flexibility for a host to decline the reservation.

Since you are a new host, you may wish to disable Instant Booking until you have more experience. I find IB creates challenges/problems I don’t encounter when a guest uses inquiry or request to book.

You had the reservation for less than an hour. It is unlikely it prevented you from being booked so refund the money.

If it was some one checking your address looking for an illegal Airbnb, then OK, other than wasting a few minutes of your time, you haven’t invested much. But you don’t know this is what they did.


But @Annet3176 The 48 hour cancellation free window is only for guests who book at least 14 days in advance.

@lchiu7 said this was a next day booking.

I do agree though that it is better for new hosts to remove IB (despite what Airbnb says) as it helps you learn to manage your listing and vet guests before they book.


NO REFUND! Stop using IB. Paying for their mistake may teach them a lesson.


Airbnb is completely legal in my city and I will be paying all appropriate taxes. Anyway since they have their own properties it’s unlikely they could try to have me stopped.


I always check the profile of a guest before refunding and I too would be hesitant in this case. Without an explanation of how they made a mistake I probably would not refund. I wonder if they refund in the same situation. Are you going to get a chance to review them? You should but they will review you as well.


Sorry I appear to have ignored all the responses but as a new member of this board I was not able to actually reply until I was approved.

As a backstory I initially had a flexible booking policy and a guest asked for a discount for 6 days which I was happy to provide. Then after one day they asked for a 6 day extension as they were waiting for a visa to be processed. Of course I agreed. But then after four days they cancelled and I lost 8 days rental. So that prompted me to read up on the cancellation policy and switched to moderate.

On this particular guest I initially was going to provide a full refund until I looked at their profile and saw they had two properties in the same area they were hosting. So it was unclear why they wanted to rent my one unless they were doing some market research :-). As someone has noted on this board the five days advance notice of cancellation supersedes the 48 hour full refund and that’s how Airbnb enforced the policy. I don’t plan to refund and I also don’t plan to engage in a debate with the person. I think they were doing market research thinking that by making a booking they could see more information about their competition but didn’t realise that they would lose their full nights rental which is strange given they are an experienced host and would understand all these conditions.I suspect they were confused by the cancellation within 48 hours and the five days advance notice and the fact that 5 days overrides 48 hours.

To me the 1 nights rental is the cost of their market research


Could they have had a potential double booking and they were going to rent yours to cover an issue.
I often get/ give bookings to another host in town because of extensions of a stay, double bookings from another site, or a request they can’t host and I can due to size of the group.


I’ve stayed in three Airbnb rentals in the last few months. All have been less than a mile away from my home (and our rentals) and all have been for perfectly legitimate reasons.


This is very plausible. They may have also been casing your place to get the door code and then cancel.

Another less malicious possibility is that they rent their primary residence and get a cheaper Airbnb when they’re booked. Their own guest may have canceled or maybe they found a friend’s couch to crash on.

I hosted a local once for this reason and all worked out well.

Nonetheless, you are under no obligation to give a refund in these circumstances.

I have had four guests book and immediately cancel. Two had multiple accounts and wanted to book on their other account (alarming they can have multiple accounts, isn’t it.). One didn’t realize her friend had booked another place. She didn’t ask for a refund. The final guest was a local and checked in immediately after booking, and cancelled and left ten minutes later because it wasn’t to her liking. I refunded her all but $20 because I was worried she’d come back and harass me since she lived on the neighborhood.


Moderate: Full refund within limited period

  • Cleaning fees are always refunded if the reservation is canceled before check-in.
  • The Airbnb service fee is refundable, up to 3 times per year, within 48 hours of booking. Separately, if a guest cancels a reservation that overlaps with any part of an existing reservation, we won’t refund the Airbnb service fee if they decide to cancel.
  • Accommodation fees (the total nightly rate you’re charged) are refundable in certain circumstances as outlined below.
  • If there is a complaint from either party, notice must be given to Airbnb within 24 hours of check-in.
  • Airbnb will mediate when necessary, and has the final say in all disputes.
  • A reservation is officially canceled when the guest clicks the cancellation button on the cancellation confirmation page, which they can find in Dashboard > Your Trips > Change or Cancel.
  • Cancellation policies may be superseded by the Guest Refund Policy, extenuating circumstances, or cancellations by Airbnb for any other reason permitted under the Terms of Service. Please review these exceptions.


I wouldnt refund no matter what the reason. Read before you book. No read no refund


Lots of interesting debate here which had been useful. The only confidential information I provide in a booking is the wifi access code but since it’s 4th storey apartment reception on the street is poor and I’ve changed it now and removed it from the listing. I don’t have an door lock code as I meet all guests with a key. But I’m installing a keypad deadbolt to allow self check in but will change the code for each new guest. I don’t plan to refund nor engage in any further exchanges with the person.

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