When to refund current guest for 1 night?

Hey all –

Quick question: should I refund our current guest for one night now or after her 3 night stay is complete and she’s checked out? She checks out on Sunday.

Backstory, if helpful: the power went out at our rental last night from 9:30pm - 3:30am for numerous houses on the block. This was a few hours after our current guest checked in. It’s 2 sisters and their 3 children staying. New to Airbnb and their first stay, of course.

The guest initially messaged me and I called our power company right away. The message was that there were other reported outages. The guest stated that the block was out but I texted my direct neighbor and she had power. So my husband and I hopped in the car and drove down, it’s only a 15 min drive.

When we arrived there were a few neighbors out and we walked over. Turns out, it was about 15 houses on our block, but not my next door neighbor, so the guest was partly right. My husband and I were just so relieved it wasn’t only our house.

We stood outside for a few more mins talking with neighbors and then messaged the guest what we were told (Power should be restored by 11:30pm). We also asked if she needed anything (we have numerous flashlights in the house). She said no but asked if we could let her know if we had any updates or when the power went back on. I said sure and we left.

My husband and I decided if the power was back on by 11:30pm we’d drop off a $25 gift card for a local store in the morning for any inconvenience. But at 12:30am I had a message from her asking if we had any update. I didn’t and replied so.

Fast forward to this morning at 6am… I call the power company and power was restored at 3:30am. We decided to refund them for one night. They’re staying 3 nights total. I messaged the guest at 8:30am and confirmed that power was on, everything was fine and letting her know that we’d like to refund them the one night. She was appreciative. My question: should I refund that night now or wait until the stay is over?

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Refunding an entire night for a few hours of no electric (considering they were sleeping half the time) seems overly generous to me and sets a precedent for guests expecting entire full day/night refunds for a few hours of minor inconvenience. 20-30% for something beyond your control is what I think is appropriate. Some guests wouldn’t expect anything knowing it was out of your control and some hosts would offer nothing.

However, as you already offered to refund the entire day, that’s just something to keep in mind for the next time. Have you already received the guest’s payout? That determines when you should refund. When the money for a stay hits your bank account, paypal, whatever method you use to receive payment, is when it’s safe for hosts to refund. (Because Airbnb occasionally says they have released a payout, but it never actually appears in the host’s account, or the guest also asks Airbnb to refund and they do)


Thank you! I appreciate your feedback.

I’m going to wait for the deposit to enter my account before I refund and I let her know that.

I think you’re correct in that giving back the full night is probably overgenerous but it felt like the right thing to do for the situation (3 little ones, hot/muggy south Texas night and a message at 12:30am indicating she wasn’t sleeping).

In the past, we’ve had the AC go bust and another power outage and I didn’t refund either guest, nor did they ask. They rolled with it. I could imagine this guest would have too but refunding the night (and it was booked at our lowest rate) felt like the right thing to do.


Sure, only the host knows the exact circumstances that would inform how much of a refund seems reasonable in any given situation.

And it’s always better, IMO, for the host to offer if some refund seems warranted, rather than to wait for a guest to demand a refund.


I would wait until her stay is over. Explain to her that she should receive a message from Airbnb the day after check out in regards to her refund.

Totally agree with you. Nice gesture.

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This is one of the few times I disagree with Muddy. If my guest is inconvenienced by power, water, etc, for more than a few hours , I will refund and I’m not big on giving refunds. We don’t know what their lifestyle is like. It’s possible they are night owls, need to charge their devices, etc.

In regards to refunding, if you have already received the notification that payment has been sent, then I would refund the night right away so that the guest knows they got the refund before they leave and perhaps do a review.

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I completely agree with this and would’ve done the same with the same set of circumstances. Whether or not it was out of your control or within your control isn’t relevant IMO. All that’s relevant is that you had guests still awake at 1230 am without any AC on a hot, muggy night (and with little kids no less).

I do think this is relevant and would’ve taken it into account too. You helped other hosts by taking extra good care of these new users. First impressions are important and I appreciate you taking a bit of a hit to benefit the community as a whole.

Well, I did say “for only a few hours”. And it depends on the inconvenience or discomfort level. As the OP further explained, that it was hot and humid and affecting the guest’s ability to sleep with no AC or fans, I definitely would offer a refund. But I still wouldn’t offer an entire night’s refund for 6 hrs of no electric, when they had 18 hrs of everything being fine, unless I sensed the they were the kind of guests who were going to make a big stink about it.

And that’s because I don’t like guests getting the idea that anytime something goes wrong for a few hours, especially when it’s something the host has no control over, they should get a full refund.

Outlier here. I have never refunded a night when inconveniences have been beyond my control.

Over the years, we’ve had the water off unexpectedly several times. Here in South Florida the power often goes off. I’ve never seen why I should give guests a refund for something that I can’t control and had no prior notice of.

When I have had prior notice (such as the water going off, or a boil-water directive) I’ve told the guests as soon as I know about it.

I’ve only once given an unasked refund and that was when the apartment directly above unexpectedly had noisy contractors in for emergency repairs. The noise was dreadful, especially as it was otherwise a quiet Sunday.

It’s always a good idea though to have stuff around that can help in cases of the water or power being out - games and books when there’s no TV, bottled water for boil-water times etc.

Other good things to have around are fans in case something goes wrong with the AC in hot weather (obviously though if the electricity was off, the fans wouldn’t work either). A cooler the guests could fill with ice and their food if electric was off long enough for food to go bad. Flashlights and lanterns.
A battery pack to charge up phones, etc.

The electricity can also cut out where I live, fairly often in the rainy season. And right now many parts of Mexico are experiencing black-outs because the weather is so hot that the system is overloaded with everyone using AC and fans non-stop.
The electric company in Mexico will also do line repair without any warning. Sudddenly you just have no electricity for a couple hours.

If I were to give refunds every time these things happened, or the Wifi didn’t work for awhile, it wouldn’t be worth hosting. I am lucky that I get reasonable guests who realize that if the electric is out all over town, everyone is sweating and has no wifi, not just them and that moving to another rental here,or getting a refund isn’t going to solve the problem.

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I was one of the first people to build in my neighborhood, when the electric company was still installing analog meters. All my neighbors have smart meters.

When there is a brown out and voltage is low, smart meters cut out. But analog meters don’t, so my neighbors will have no electricity, when I still do, even though the lights may be dim.

And my neighbors also have pressure pumps for the water, whereas I have a gravity feed system from a water tank on my roof. So when there is low or no electricity, they have no water coming out of their faucets but I do.

It’s funny, because they have much bigger and fancier houses than mine.

Thank you all for your feedback and insight. I appreciate it all!

Now I have a question about reviewing said guest but I’m going to start a new thread…

Anymore, 90% of circumstances we only offer a free night on a future stay once our 2 nite minimum is met.
As far as how the unit was left, seems pretty much par for the course for about 25% of our guests - kids or no kids…

No, Never, Nothing

How much is the powercompany going to refund you?? There is your answer.

Do you think she will give a positive review because of your refund??? Get ready for a big disappointment.

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@B_anchor I hadn’t thought of that idea. I guess with not knowing how they’d treat the house, I’d be apprehensive of offering that. But I’m glad to have another idea.

@Chris I wasn’t inquiring if I should refund them, just when I should, as they were at the beginning of their stay. I didn’t expect a positive review because I gave a refund - I’m confident in my ability to earn positive reviews w/ out paying my guests. I felt like it was the right thing to do, so I did it and I’m glad I did. Even after the house was left messy from her little ones.