Spanish law takes precedence over cancellation policies until May 2021

Probably only of interest to Spanish hosts, @bevandian, @Malagachica, @LifeinGalicia (can’t think of any others!)

Interesting story popping up in Spanish newsfeeds today regarding a guest from Sevilla, who booked (in Feb 2020) an apartment in Madrid for a weekend in May 2020, total cost €196.

Basics are, that due to mobility restrictions imposed by the State of Emergency, the guest couldn’t travel to Madrid, and asked for a refund. Airbnb refunded only €105 (I’m assuming 50% - cleaning fee?).

Guest not happy, so opens a claim against Airbnb via FACUA (consumer rights organisation), and after their legal team contacted Airbnb they refunded the balance of the guests payment.

Their argument was simple:

Thus, FACUA Sevilla recalled that article 36 of Royal Decree-Law 11/2020, of March 31, which adopts urgent complementary measures in the social and economic sphere to deal with Covid-19, establishes that consumers have Right to terminate a contract if as a consequence of the measures taken by the state of alarm, its fulfilment was impossible.

They also quoted another law, one relating to consumer contracts, stating:

On the other hand, the association warned that not returning the amount of the stay could suppose an abusive behaviour on the part of Airbnb. This is stated in article 87 of Royal Legislative Decree 1/2007, of November 16, which approves the revised text of the General Law for the Defense of Consumers and Users and other complementary laws, which indicates that "they are abusive the clauses that determine the lack of reciprocity in the contract, contrary to good faith “. Among them, those that impose " obligations on the consumer and user for the fulfilment of all their duties and considerations, even when the company has not fulfilled his .”

The first takeaway here is that essentially the law overrides a hosts cancellation policy irrespective of when the booking was made, if a guest can claim the State of Emergency stopped them checking in. Currently, the State of Emergency is not due to end until 9th may 2021.

The second and in my eyes the most important, which may very well apply post State of Emergency, is that under Spanish consumer law non refundable bookings may be open to challenge, if a guest wants to cancel and receive a refund.

The third, is that the booking was made pre 14th March, therefore Airbnb’s policy at that time was full refunds if a guest cancelled due to Covid, or Covid restrictions. I wonder if the host held out for the 50% or was this a case of Airbnb chancing it in the hope the guest would go away.

There were a few anecdotal accounts, last March, of hosts giving full refunds but Airbnb only giving the guests vouchers or partial refunds…

All food for thought, for those hosting en España :es:


Original article:


Very interesting John, thank you for sharing. And of course we now have the additional element of municipality perimeter opening and closing with barely 24 hours notice. Oh well, these things are sent to try us … I’m wondering what Holy week will bring? May be easier just to stay closed!

It certainly won’t be bringing any processions, that’s for sure. Jerez were the last diocese in Andalucia to formally cancel all external Semana Santa activities, everyone else declared around six weeks ago.

As far as I’m aware, they’re not looking to allow inter provincial travel until May, this was in the Diario de Jerez recently:

As it stands, we’ll be open but not expecting a busy time over Easter. If the perimeter confinements are still in place then nobody can get to us.

You can check your daily figures here:


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Given Airbnb’s customer service inconsistencies, the state of the company, and their frequent external and internal policy changes, I wonder if Airbnb even knows why they did what they did.

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