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Comprehensive Guide to Airbnb Cancellation Policy and Refunds: Understanding Your Rights

Updated: May 10

Airbnb has transformed the travel industry, offering a diverse range of accommodation options. From treehouses to city apartments, there’s an Airbnb listing for every kind of traveller. However, life is unpredictable, and sometimes plans need to change. That’s when understanding Airbnb’s cancellation and refund policies becomes essential.

In this guide from UpperKey, we’ll demystify the various aspects of Airbnb’s cancellation policies, ensuring that both hosts and guests understand their rights and responsibilities. By the end, you’ll have the knowledge to navigate potential Airbnb cancellations smoothly.

Property Management and Airbnb Concierge Services

Airbnb Cancellation Policy for Guests

Upon booking, guests are bound by the cancellation policy selected by the host. Airbnb offers three main types of Airbnb cancellation policy for guests:

· Flexible: Full refund within 24 hours of booking. After that, cancel up to 48 hours before check-in and get a full refund minus the service fee.

· Moderate: Full refund within 48 hours of booking. Then, cancel up to 5 days before check-in and receive a full refund minus the service fee.

· Strict: For a strict cancellation policy, Airbnb offers a 50% refund until one week prior to check-in, but the service fee is not refundable.

Grace Period

Did you make a mistake or change your mind immediately after booking? In most cases, Airbnb provides a 40-hour grace period after booking, allowing guests to cancel without penalties. However, this grace period only applies if the booking is made at least 14 days before the check-in date.

Free Cancellation Airbnb Listings

Some listings offer free Airbnb cancellation. This allows guests to cancel up to 14 days before check-in and receive a full refund. If guests cancel less than 14 days before, they receive a 50% refund, excluding service fees.

Certain Airbnb listings offer free cancellation with a full refund up to 14 days before check-in.

Long-Term Stays

Cancellation policies differ for those booking an extended stay (28 nights or more). Typically, the first 30 days of a long-tern reservation are non-refundable. If a guest decides to cancel after the trip has started, a 30-day notice is typically required.

Extenuating Circumstances Airbnb

Airbnb recognises that sometimes, unavoidable situations arise. Whether it’s a natural disaster, personal emergency, or global health crisis, Airbnb might provide refunds outside of the standard policy.

Airbnb Cancellation Policy For Hosts

From emergency home repairs to personal crises, hosts may occasionally need to cancel bookings. However, Airbnb (and UpperKey) encourages hosts to uphold their commitments. In addition, it’s important to be aware of the Airbnb cancellation policies for hosts.

Penalties for Host Cancellations

Cancelling a guest’s stay isn’t without repercussions. Hosts may face penalties, which can include fees, a note on their listing page about the cancellation, and status changes.

Impact of Cancellations on Superhost Status

Superhost status is a recognition of commitment and top-tier hosting. However, host-initiated cancellations can jeopardise this status. Avoid cancelling on guests unless absolutely necessary to maintain the integrity of your listing and Superhost privileges.

Impact on Search Ranking

Host-initiated cancellations can have an adverse effect on the ranking of the listing in search results. A consistent history of confirmed bookings and positive reviews, on the other hand, will boost the visibility of your listing.

Rebooking Assistance

In case of host cancellations, Airbnb provides support to guests in finding a new place to stay. In some instances, Airbnb might even offer guests additional Airbnb discounts to ease the inconvenience. UpperKey’s property managers can also help you relocate your guests if needed.

Refunds and Discounts

· How Refunds Work: If you are entitled to a refund, it’s typically processed immediately and takes 5-15 business days to reflect in your account. This timeline might vary based on your bank and payment method.

· Airbnb Discounts: Discounts can come into play if your reservation experiences issues. Whether it’s an issue with cleanliness or amenities not matching the listing description, Airbnb may offer compensation through discounts.

Issuing a refund
Refunds are usually processed promptly and may take 5-15 business days to appear in your account.

Providing Alternatives

If, as a host, you realise you need to cancel, it’s a gesture of goodwill to assist the guest in finding alternative accommodations. This can mitigate potential negative reviews and demonstrates a commitment to guest welfare.

Special Situations

Some special situations might arise for both hosts and guests, including:

Shortening Airbnb Stays

If guests wish to reduce their stay duration, the refund depends on the cancellation policy of the host. For example, if you booked under a strict cancellation policy Airbnb listing and decide to shorten your stay, the remaining days may not be refunded.

Removing a Guest

Can I kick out an Airbnb guest?

You’ll be pleased to hear that hosts have the right to remove guests if they violate the house rules. However, it’s essential to handle such situations delicately, and in most cases, involve Airbnb support to mediate.

Fake Airbnb Cancellation

As a host or a guest, it’s crucial to be wary of any suspicious emails or messages outside the Airbnb platform that claim the booking has been cancelled. Such deceptive tactics aim to defraud guests. Always verify through the official Airbnb app or website.

General Queries You Might Have

Navigating the vast world of Airbnb brings with it a slew of questions. Here we take a closer look into some of the general queries that hosts and guests frequently have.

Is Airbnb Safe?

One of the most frequently asked questions we get at UpperKey, especially by those new to the platform, is about its safety. Airbnb has implemented multiple layers of safety features and protocols for both hosts and guests:

· Verification process: Before listing or booking, users undergo a verification process that can include providing official identification and connecting social media accounts.

· Secure messaging: Airbnb’s platform allows hosts and guests to communicate without sharing personal contact information. This ensures that all communications can be reviewed by Airbnb if disputes arise.

· Review system: Previous guests and hosts can leave reviews, allowing future users to gauge the quality and trustworthiness of listings or guests. This transparent system helps in informed decision-making.

· Insurance: For added peace of mind, Airbnb provides a Host Guarantee that can compensate for damages. This is not a substitute for home insurance on the property but serves as an additional layer of protection.

How to Cancel an Airbnb Reservation?

Whether you’re a guest experiencing a change of plans or a host facing unforeseen circumstances, knowing how to manage a reservation cancellation is crucial.

· For guests: Navigate to ‘Trips’ on your Airbnb dashboard. Choose the booking you wish to cancel and follow the prompts. Before you cancel, review the chosen cancellation policy to understand potential implications.

· For hosts: Go to ‘Reservations’ on your dashboard. Click on the reservation you need to modify or cancel and follow the given steps. Remember, frequent cancellations by hosts can affect their listing’s ranking and Superhost status.

Can You Cancel Airbnb After Booking?

Yes, guests can cancel a booking after it is confirmed. However, the refund amount and implications depend on the host’s chosen cancellation policy, as outlined earlier.

What Happens if an Airbnb is Cancelled?

If a host cancels, Airbnb will notify the guest immediately and assist in finding an alternative accommodation option. Depending on the situation, Airbnb might offer incentives, such as discounts or credits, to alleviate the inconvenience. If a guest cancels, they might be refunded based on the cancellation policy, and the dates will become available again for others to book.

For issues like inaccurate listings, contact Airbnb's customer service for mediation and resolution.

How to Address Issues or Discrepancies?

Airbnb has a robust support system in place. If you experience problems, such as a listing not matching its description, reach out to Airbnb’s customer service. They mediate and provide solutions, ensuring that both parties are heard, and any grievances are addressed.

Tips for a Smooth Airbnb Experience

With a platform as vast and varied as Airbnb, some insider tips can significantly enhance your user experience, whether you’re a host or a guest.

Reading the Fine Print

Always read the complete listing details. For hosts, clearly outline what guests can expect. For guests, knowing what’s included can prevent misunderstandings later.

Open Dialogue

It’s beneficial for both hosts and guests to maintain open lines of communication from the moment a booking is made. Addressing questions or concerns upfront can lead to a more positive experience.

Safety First

While Airbnb has numerous safety features in place, users should also do their part. Hosts might consider installing safety equipment like fire extinguishers or first aid kits. Guests should always let somebody know where they are staying and share the contact details of the host.

Respect is Mutual

A successful Airbnb experience hinges on mutual respect. Guests should treat the property as they would their own, and hosts should ensure they provide what’s promised.

Navigating Disputes and Resolutions

Disagreements or unexpected issues might arise, but knowing how to handle them can make all the difference.

Use Airbnb’s Resolution Centre

Before things escalate, it’s a good idea to head to Airbnb’s Resolution Centre. This platform allows guests and hosts to communicate, share evidence, and try to reach an agreement.

Understand the Mediation Process

If a resolution isn’t achieved through direct communication, Airbnb steps in to mediate. The company will review evidence from both sides and make a decision.

Prevention is Better

Being proactive can prevent many disputes. Hosts should ensure their listing is accurate, and guests should always read reviews and communicate any special requirements beforehand.

While they are inconvenient, cancellations don’t have to be a headache with Airbnb. With clear policies in place, both hosts and guests can navigate challenges with confidence.

Property Management and Airbnb Concierge Services


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