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As an Airbnb host, if you do your job well you won’t have to worry about giving your guests a refund – but sometimes life doesn’t go to plan and you’ll be asked to pay back the money. How do you go about Airbnb guest refunds? Here’s a guide with some helpful information to allow you to secure the best outcome for your Airbnb business and reputation.

Update: Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Airbnb has temporarily adjusted their cancellation policy for special cases. Please refer to the official documentation to see if your booking or listing is affected.

When can a guest ask for a refund?

There are a number of reasons why a guest might request a refund. There are family and health issues that can cause a guest to cancel a trip. Weather events can impact a person’s travel plans. Work trips can fall through at the last minute.

Airbnb has a comprehensive Guest Refund Policy that outlines your obligations as a host in relation to refunds.

Eligible travel issues listed under Airbnb’s policy

The host is non-committal or unresponsive – This relates to hosts who cancel a reservation within 24 hours of a guest checking in or if you change the accommodation that you offer guests. It also includes guests being given incorrect lockbox codes resulting in them not being able to access the property within a reasonable period of their check-in time.

Airbnb property not safe or clean – Your property should be ready to welcome guests at the agreed check-in time. If a guest arrives and finds that the property has not been cleaned (i.e. dirty sheets, rubbish lying around) they have a right to request a refund. This also relates to safety issues such as infestations, broken locks or extreme mould.

Inaccurate listing description – If you state that your property is a 4-bedroom home and guests arrive to find the fourth bedroom is full of your storage boxes, they have reason to request a refund. Make sure that everything you list in your description is correct. Don’t mention a private swimming pool if it’s actually a shared pool within a block of flats. Don’t state that you’re close to the CBD if you are an hour’s drive away.

Major issues during stay – Guests can also claim for a refund if their stay was affected by major issues such as the boiler breaking during winter, windows not opening to allow ventilation in the summer or the cooktop not working. As a host, you should try to address any major issues as quickly as possible. Most guests will understand that sometimes things go wrong and might be forgiving if you can organise repairs within 24-hours but expect to be asked for a refund if one of these issues arises.

Airbnb Management Company GuestReady

The Airbnb Guest refund policy: How does it work?

If your guest contacts you directly before their check-in date, you have the power to issue a refund. Simply go to your Reservations overview, select the booking and click Issue Refund.

For refunds after the check-in date, it’s a little trickier. You should discuss the issue with your guest to find out what has concerned them and what kind of refund they want. Then you should:

  1. Go to the Resolution Centre
  2. Choose the reservation you want to refund
  3. Under Select a Reason, choose Offer Partial Reimbursement
  4. Enter the desired amount, currency, and a message to your guest.

If the guest accepts your offer, Airbnb will process your transaction within 48 hours. Guests can also submit a claim directly to Airbnb within 24 hours of the issue.

Setting up your cancellation policy

Airbnb has a comprehensive cancellation policy structure that allows hosts to choose between a range of cancellation options – from Flexible to Super Strict. It also allows guests to view the conditions before booking.

Flexible

  • Free cancellation until 14 days before check-in.
  • If booked less than 14 days before check-in, free cancellation for 48 hours after booking, up to 24 hours before check-in.
  • After that, guests can cancel up to 24 hours before check-in and get a refund of the nightly rate and the cleaning fee, but not the service fee.

Moderate

  • Free cancellation until 14 days before check-in.
  • If booked less than 14 days before check-in, free cancellation for 48 hours after booking, up to 5 days before check-in.
  • After that, guests can cancel up to 5 days before check-in and get a refund of the nightly rate and the cleaning fee, but not the service fee.

Strict

  • Free cancellation for 48 hours, as long as the guest cancels at least 14 days before check-in.
  • After that, guests can cancel up to 7 days before check-in and get a 50% refund of the nightly rate, and the cleaning fee, but not the service fee.

Long Term (For reservations of 28 nights or more)

  • Guests can cancel before check-in and get a full refund, minus the first 30 days and the service fee.

Super Strict 30 Days

This policy is by invitation only to certain hosts under special circumstances and it allows guests to cancel at least 30 days before check-in and get a 50% refund of the nightly rate and the cleaning fee, but not the service fee.

Super Strict 60 Days

This is another policy that is only available by invitation to certain hosts and it allows guests to cancel at least 60 days before check-in and get a 50% refund of the nightly rate and the cleaning fee, but not the service fee.

Need help with guest liaison?

One way to prevent a situation where a guest demands a refund is to hire an Airbnb management company like GuestReady to handle guest liaison. Our team can make sure your holiday let is clean and shiny for new guests, and manage any issues that might arise during their stay. Call us today for a free consultation.

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