Airbnb Guest Refund Policy

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Airbnb Guest Refund Policy Made Easy

9 Aug , 2013  

There are times when a host will have to refund a guest, but do you know the Airbnb Guest Refund Policy?. But what exactly are the grounds for a guest to be able to say that he or she should justly be refunded? According to Airbnb, the accommodations “should meet minimum quality standards regarding safety, access, and cleanliness, and they should be consistent with the description provided by the Host.” Airbnb will refund a host who has a “travel issue” involving these factors. This sounds pretty clear at first, but when you have money involved; some gray areas will always come to light. It can be hard to digest the full refund policy of Airbnb so we have outlined here all you need to know as a host.

So what is a “travel issue”? There are 3 types:

  • Host Cancels 24 hours or less before the date the reservation is supposed to start or the host does not provide any reasonable way to access the accommodation.
  • The actual accommodation is not the same or “materially inaccurate” as what was specified in the listing description.
  • The accommodation is not reasonably sanitary as was described or health hazards are present.

Number 1 is clear, but number 2 needs some more clarification. And number 3 is quite broad. When can a guest reasonably say that your space is dirty? Is an indelible wine stain you tried to wash off many times at the edge of your linen grounds for your guest to get a refund? What if they saw a cockroach? Of course things like that can happen even to the best and cleanest hosts, but it might be grounds for a refund could it not? According to Airbnb, the accommodation must meet “minimum quality standards”. What is that? Let’s get into the details:

Travel issue 1

This does not require much clarification. When the host cancels, the guest should get a refund. However, the second part might benefit from clarification. What does it mean for a host to provide reasonable access? For example, the host forgets to give the guest the keys to the house. What about transportation? Does this mean the host has to provide a car? Well of course not. However, many hosts do provide transportation especially in inaccessible places. It makes good business sense. So in the highly unlikely scenario that there are no taxis or car rentals in the area, that might be grounds. Another, uncommon scenario: the house is totally inaccessible because the roads leading to it are blocked for some reason.

Travel issue 2

Basically, if a host lies about his accommodation description, then this might be grounds for a guest refund, especially if the host listed certain amenities that should be part of the “package” which the guest paid for. For example, it is advertised that there is a pool and it turns out that pool is not usable. Or, perhaps it’s listed that there is a pool but instead the guest finds a hole in the ground filled with water. Lying is always bad. But there are also unforeseeable problems that can happen at the last minute (ei. problems with the pool). Things like that can happen so best be as transparent as you can be and tell the guest beforehand. But, probably some of the more common complaints are about bed sizes or lack of clean linen and towels. It would of course be a hassle for two travelling buddies expecting two beds and find that what the accommodation can provide them for now is a queen sized bed. Uncomfortable beds on the other hand, probably won’t be easy for guests to prove as grounds for refund. But it will probably show up in their review.

Travel issue 3

Here is where we get down and dirty on the details. First, let’s talk about what’s obvious. Health hazards and safety risks are easy to determine. For example, if there are loose dogs in the area, or maybe there is no lock at the door, then these may be safety risks. Airbnb will be the judge in the end but just use common sense. What about the existence of vermin? They might not be immediate health risks but they can technically be grounds for a refund. An unsanitary house with unwashed linen, lots of dust and or foul smells could also be grounds.

What does it mean to be unsanitary? What if it is just one roach and it has never happened before? Does the guest have to count a certain number roaches before they can get a refund? Of course nobody wants a roach in their room. Some guests will be reasonable as long as the host can talk to them reasonably. If a place has vermin, it is grounds for a refund, provided that the guest has evidence such as photos. So if by accident, one cockroach finds its way into the accommodation, there’s a good chance the guest will still be ok with the room as long as the host is proactive (kill it yourself if you are there). There’s also a good chance it won’t be photographed. But if you have an infestation, that’s another story. And the guest will have plenty of chances to take a picture too.

Again, the minimum quality standard is something people can agree on. There may exist picky and highly reactive, frantic guests of course. In the end, it will be up to Airbnb to act as judge with any of these situations. Airbnb will also be the one to determine how much is going to be refunded. But always remember, most problems can be smoothed out by reasonable talk. If you have wine stain in your curtain which you meant to replace but have not yet been able to, just explain it kindly to your guest. Most will be graceful and find it ok. But if you don’t tell them that, they might think that red blotch in their room is something much more gross than wine.

4 Responses

  1. Bruce King says:

    154 Lawlor Avenue

    Mine is more of a question – my wife suffers from a spinal cord disorder that was not detected prior to our booking (doctor note available) – the host has a “strict” cancellation policy – we feel due to my wife’s illness and what would be a 90 advanced notice we should be moved to a “moderate” cancellation. Also, the host has almost all of September booked so replacing our booking will not be difficult. Our booking number is 958SEE.



  2. Katen says:

    We’re lodging at an air b n b apartment in France now and it’s gorgoeus…. except we haven’t been able to sleep for more than 2 hours in the last 48 because the bedding situation is absolutely horrific. No real pillows, and the mattresses have no springs. It kinda sags in the middle so your constantly on top of each other in the crazy heat. I’m nursing a cold pack on a painful neck as I type and suffer from health conditions that tend to flare up if I don’t get at least a few more hours shut eye. We’ve had to book ourselves a cheap hotel room near by for tonight in a desperate attempt to get some sleep! I’d probably be asking for a refund if a hotel provided this kind of bed, but alas. The host is lovley and the rest of the place if perfect. He has been so helpful so I’m hesitant to leave him a bad review.

    • Kim says:

      Thanks for sharing your story and I am really sorry to hear your nights were so uncomfortable. You can always be honest in a review without being impolite. Another choice is to give a good to neutral review and leave a private message with the truth. But the real value of your review is to warn other guests for the inconvenience. Either the guests are warned or the host has to fix the problem. Good luck!

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