U.S. Airbnb's: New Terms of Service leave hosts at risk


Have you read the latest Terms of Service?! They put the host completely at risk, specifically Travel Issues, Guest Refunds, and Host Guarantee Terms and Conditions.

The Hotel Lobby may be a mega-giant, but there is a significant difference. Airbnb Hosts are not hotels. Many of us host guests in a portion of our homes. There are conditions different from hotels.

Be ready to take a video of the premises just before the guests enter the door, since they can claim the listing:
(i) is not generally clean and sanitary (ii) contains safety or health hazards that would be reasonably expected to adversely affect the Guest’s stay at the Accommodation in Airbnb’s judgment, (iii) does not contain clean bedding and bathroom towels available for the Guest’s use, or (iv) has vermin or contains pets not disclosed on the Listing.

What’s to say a guest doesn’t create the unsanitary, health hazard, non-clean bedding, etc. in a photo and create a “Travel Issue?” What do the hosts have to do to protect themselves, because Airbnb has left them hanging, and Airbnb is not going to police these issues. It’s a liability to them.

Then the new Guest Refund policy! There is no reason now for the hosts to set a cancellation policy, because Airbnb and the guests are now controlling it.

Read this section, because it is where Airbnb connect the host to reimbursement for Travel Issues:
Minimum Quality Standards, Host Responsibilities and Reimbursement to Guest. The rights of the Guests under the Guest Refund Policy supersede the cancellation policy established by a Host.

My strongest suggestion is that before you book anyone, you ask them to confirm your listing on Airbnb, that it is a fit, and disclose any other idiosyncrasies. Airbnb would like hosts to Instant Book or pre-approve, but that now is an extreme risk to the Host, who hasn’t communicated with a guest, and ascertained explicitly that they understand the listing and it is a fit for their needs. Now the host needs a freakin’ attorney!

It’s difficult enough, and costly, to get host Airbnb insurance, this is going to escalate those premiums since Airbnb is walking away from the host, and thereby liability.

I understand guests want clean, and safe places to stay; I would like that also. The descriptions in these new terms are so vague as to bias the guest against the host it is truly frightening.


I like this part for guests:

“you must have used reasonable efforts to try to remedy the circumstances of the Travel Issue with the Host prior to making a claim for a Travel Issue.”

I have had 3 instances where a guest just left and didn’t come back, and made no effort whatsoever to correct any issue they’d had with my accommodations, not even notifying me until the next day.

Frankly, they’ve always believed the guest’s rights supercede our cancellation policies. That’s how they’ve behaved, that is.

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Really? So sorry to hear that. Have only been doing this a year, but this really threw me. Where would the guests sleep if it weren’t for the hosts. Not a chicken or an egg situation.

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I just read it and as long as Airbnb is reasonable and fair, I don’t think it should be too much of a problem. They’re basically asking hosts to meet basic standards of service.

Yes, some guests could take advantage of it… but that has always been the case.

In my experience dealing with Airbnb they’ve always been extremely reasonable. Even bending over backwards to help us out. One time we had bed bugs - YIKES!!! And the guest told Air about it and they left. I profusely apologized to the guest and even helped him find another place to stay and told him I’d refund his money. So I would have done that whether Air had a refund policy or not. I didn’t meet the basic minimum standards that time.

Air told us get the bed bug problem resolved and they would reinstate us as soon as they got a letter from an licensed exterminator saying it had been treated and was resolved. Then what shocked us was that in the middle of this process they wrote to let us know they were sending us - I think it was $500 - to go towards the cost of the exterminator! That was awesome and totally unrequested and unexpected!

Once we had everything taken care of, we sent them the letter from the exterminator and they instantly reinstated us. (The whole process took about 2 and a half weeks). That surprised me a little actually because I kept imagining they might tell us that bed bugs were a risk they simply couldn’t allow and any host that ever had them would be permanently deleted. But fortunately that wasn’t the case. So we felt like they treated us very fairly through that situation.

We’ve also had a couple of times that weren’t fair to us - but even though they didn’t side with us in those situations I could at least see their point and that they were being reasonable.

If you think about it, I think what these changes indicate is that word has gotten around to pretty much everybody and their brother that hosting for Airbnb can be pretty profitable. So it’s brought in a lot of dregs looking to make a quick buck who could care less about the guest experience. And they’re going to ruin it for everybody else if Air doesn’t do something to weed these people out.


This thread made me stop to read the T&Cs. I don’t think they’re unreasonable.

AirBNB will apply the host’s cancellation policy. Where there is a Travel Issue (which are common sense minimum standards), the cancellation policy won’t apply. Hosts are required to have accommodation that meets a minimum standard, and if they fail that standard, then the guest should be refunded. The burden is for the guest to demonstrate that the accommodation didn’t meet standard and that they’ve tried to resolve the issue with the host. The host does have a right of reply.

I know I provide a clean and safe environment for my guests. I would be mortified if they found something unclean or vermin or whatever. Most guests and most hosts don’t want to play games.

I also know that there are AirBNB hosts out there that outright lie about their accommodation, and shouldn’t be on the platform. I’ve had several guests stay that were paranoid that they were being duped into a shared accommodation (as they had been before) or that the photos didn’t reflect the accommodation. These are the hosts I think this is aimed at.

AirBNB needs to balance the interests of hosts with the interest of guests because they need to maintain (and increase) the critical mass. It’s not in their interest to upset either side.


That is also my take on these new, expanded and tediously detailed TOS. Air is just tightening things up. I see some very questionable listings popping up in my area. Some don’t last long, but others hang on. I love reading the reviews for these ratty looking places because many of the guests are a match as far as their expectations and personalities. But then someone has to come along and ruin it for everyone by complaining about bugs or noise or mold in the shower :)))


Yes, Airbnb has been fair in the past. I agree at least to my experience. This is now a new future, with new Terms of Service, and it is quite concerning. When Airbnb passes liability and cost to it’s hosts to burden, that is not in the best interest of the host. Each to our own, we shall see if it continues to work for us individually. At some point the risk may outweigh any value.

I agree completely with your last paragraph; that is the gist of the issue. Where is that balance in the new Terms of Service?

Well, I think they’re hitting that balance even with the new TOS.

My interpretation of their insurance terms:

They are saying that you can’t have Airbnb’s policy act as your primary insurance, as in, you need to have your own homeowners insurance because they only cover the timeframe that a guest is booked. They have given examples of what is covered and what is not here.

I do agree that as hosts we need to be more vigilant about guests who break the TOS (and our house rules). At the end of the day, it’s the only protection we have and there is no upside to being “easy going” aka letting the little things slide. We have seen many hosts on this forum get burned when they made decisions that did not adhere to the TOS. It leaves us wide open to a whole world of hurt.

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Except that we have heard many hosts say this did not happen. The guest stayed for several days, weeks, months, and was refunded a huge portion. How many guests have staged photos and received a refund without attempting to resolve anything with hosts?

There was a recent thread where the host’s cleaner offered to re-clean the entire place just to please a guest - guest refused, stayed for 3 days, said she couldn’t find a new place to stay because there was no internet. Yet she CHOSE to book a place that had no internet. Nobody can convince me this guest was stuck in a house and couldn’t leave to go find a new place. Or have Air find a new place for her. She staged photos too.

Completely understood in your first paragraph, and no issue there. As to the second paragraph, with our homeowner’s insurer, Farmer’s, they do not cover Airbnb. You must carry separate insurance.

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I guess we agree to disagree.

What I meant in my second paragraph is that in order to access the Airbnb insurance, you can’t have violated their TOS at any point during the reservation. For example, someone on this forum let a fellow into her home…but he wasn’t the one who made the booking nor was he listed on the reservation. Violation. If this guy fell down the stairs and sued her, she wouldn’t have access to Airbnb’s liability insurance.

To respond to the need for having your own short term rental insurance, yes, this would be a good backup plan. Especially because Airbnb’s insurance doesn’t cover stuff like pet damage, bike accidents, bed bugs, canoe accidents, etc. Strong word of caution for those out there who are letting guests use their bikes/canoes without some kind of insurance in place. Trouble!!!

I keep hearing this about being listed on the reservation. Is there a way to list names? Or are you just referring to number of guests?

I know which scenario you were referring to. But let’s switch it up a bit. Let’s say a guest books a house that sleeps 5 people. And this house is self-check in with keyless entry. Only four of the guests stay because the original booker had a last minute emergency and couldn’t come. How does Air even know who stayed on the property? Air keeps telling me that all guests of the guest can even cancel under extenuating circumstances?

Or what about if a group of 5 invites over 1 day time guest for lunch. The day time guest injures himself and wants to sue.

Any idea if guests can also file a claim directly with Air’s insuarnce, or if it is just for hosts?

You can list the names of guests when you book, however, right now it’s only optional. It SHOULD be mandatory for the person booking to name all guests. Because it’s not mandatory the onus is on the host to get those names prior to the start of the reservation. Btw…I am guilty of not doing this! But I’m going to start.

I’m only guessing but I think the host would NOT be entitled access to Airbnb’s insurance. This is where supplemental insurance is a good idea…to cover those incidents that Air (or your homeowners insurance) won’t.

This is a good question! I think it’s just for hosts as none of the research I’ve done on Air’s website indicates that guests can access it directly.

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Thanks. I had no idea there was an optional section to write down guests names.

OK…now back to the day time guest situation. Let’s say it wasn’t the day time guest but one of the 4 guests who injured themselves. Since the original person who booked couldn’t make it due to last minute emergency…is Air going to deny any kind of claim? Will Air say “well this was a 3rd party booking”? - even though it didn’t start out that way?

Or let’s say it was day time guest. How would Air have any idea that the day time guest didn’t arrive with the orginal party, since recording names isn’t required?

Hahaha…I don’t expect you to have all the answers. I am just really trying to wrap my head around how this would hypothetically even work.

Lol! I understand. I’m glad I live onsite and do a meet and greet. While I think that eliminates a lot of the reasons for concern, it doesn’t eliminate every possible scenario. But you know what? You could be insured up to the teeth and still have something happen that falls through the cracks.

Oh gawd…every time I come to this forum my stomach hurts a little from both real and imagined worries. :confounded:


At the least have them sign a standard equipment waiver. I do for snorkeling gear.

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LOL… Me too. I think some of the TOS the OP is citing have always been in place… And some readers are seemingly mixing up the homeowners insurance with the liability policy that Air offers.