In early February I reserved an airbnb apartment in the Marais for a week in mid-June. I paid a $600 deposit and have until June 4th to cancel for a full refund. Although I'm still hoping that United will be flying in June and that France will have recovered from the devastation of COVID by then, I'm wondering if I should go ahead and cancel now to insure getting back a refund from the owner. I saw an article in our local newspaper today describing how airbnb property owners are upset about the many refund requests that are being made due to COVID. I know that this is a financial hardship for owners but I don't want to lose the $600 if the owner should out of funds from the many requests for refunds. Or does anyone know if airbnb guarantees refunds? Thank you.
Airbnb does not pay the owner until after you have arrived at the property. Airbnb has been "holding" your deposit and will return it less any service fees to you if you cancel by the June 4th. That is guaranteed. All this assumes that paid through the Airbnb site.
Owners are upset not because they have received the money and will have to return the funds that they received but because AIrBnB is overriding the owner's cancellation policies based on the COVID-19 pandemic. So, let's say an owner has a strict cancellation policy, that owner might choose to hold a person to a reservation for a stay between now and April 14th even if the traveler wishes to cancel. Airbnb is not allowing that to happen and is allowing anyone to cancel stays up until April 14th. Look at https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/2701/extenuating-circumstances-policy-and-the-coronavirus-covid19. Rentals through April 14th are covered by the extenuating circumstances cancellation policy. Who knows if AirBnB will extend that date. It's bleeding money now because of the extenuating circumstance policy (in fact, its IPO may be postponed or so the rumor goes in the financial press but who cares about that). I would not bet on Airbnb extending their extenuating circumstances cancellation policy to cover June stays even though I think that travel will not be back to normal by then. I’d wait until the end of May to cancel. I don’t think Airbnb will be going out of business before (or even after) then and that is who you have to worry about not having the money for your refund.
I say wait until about a week before your June 4th deadline and assess the situation then. I wouldn't cancel now unless you make the decision to cancel your whole trip. As the previous poster said, Airbnb has your deposit, not the owner.
Please note that if you cancel and the extenuating circumstances cancellation policy is not in effect, Airbnb fees are not refundable. That’s the beauty of the extenuating circumstances override of cancellation policies — the renter gets the entire amount paid refunded. You should keep checking the link I provided in my first post for details on the cancellation policy to see if any changes are made that could benefit you. Right now, your stay is not covered by the exception unless the owner gets COVID-19 (and lets Airbnb know).
Thank you both for the link and for taking the time to explain how airbnb deposits work. I didn't realize that airbnb held on to the deposits. Each time I've made a reservation, the property owners have been consistently friendly and the service so personalized that it's hard to imagine that a big company controls the funds. I'll keep an eye on the link and wait until a week or so before our travel date to cancel. Given how so many have died and so many continue to suffer in Europe, I don't feel up to a trip even if the planes do fly and France opens up for travelers. Europe will be in mourning for a long time to come. However we have a family friend in France who is very ill and we will go to see her if travel becomes possible. Thank you again for the advice.
Five minutes ago I cancelled 3 of my 5 airbnb's for May - I got in touch with one fellow and he said not to worry about it - and I'll def be rebooking this trip in the future. One other just sent a message saying they were expecting me to cancel. I see some airlines have already cancelled flights thru the end of May (Porter in Canada). I'm an optimistic person and at the start of March was holding out hope we could still take our trip. That went away by the middle of March. July might be pushing it. I'm really hoping we can do this trip in Sept.
As others mentioned, the owners don't get paid until after you stay. My other 2 stays are both only 50% cancellation. I'm waiting for airbnb to move the date past Apr 14, at which time I'm fairly certain I can get a full refund. I don't really want to contact those two hosts because I'm sure they are getting hit with a lot of cancellations.
I'd say if the charge is sitting on your credit card costing you interest - cancel now.
I recently cancelled 2 AirBnB stays in France (the same place, beginning and end of trip), and w/o any special policy I got a full refund, including fees. The owner has the lowest level cancellation policy; up to 2 weeks before I believe, you get a full refund. Then after that, up until the day before you get a full refund minus the service fee.
Then to replace that trip we reserved at an AirBnB in Quebec, but a few days later the border was closed and the host asked us to cancel. We did, and again got a full refund w/o any special policy in effect.
In the OPs case, I would cancel now if you can get a full refund. If by some chance you were still able to go in June, you could always try rebooking or finding another place.
Very interesting, Robert. When were you supposed to be traveling? Generally, Airbnb does not refund their service fees when either the host or the renter cancels. However, as I mentioned above they are cancelling that right now through April 14th and giving full refunds. I thought those full refunds were only for stays up until April 14th. You do not have to do anything special to get that full refund -- just cancel and you get the full refund. Hence, my question about the timing of your trip. If your trip was scheduled for after April 14th, the no-fee cancellation is great news for travelers with later travel dates who are thinking of canceling.
JHK - my dates for travel were in May. I had 3 airbnb hosts who offered free cancellation up to 2 weeks before travel. Free cancellation including refunding of airbnb fees. I did check with one beforehand that he wasn't going to get dinged for any fees and he told me it was all good. I cancelled those 3 this weekend.
My other two hosts only offer 50% cancellation. Those dates aren't until mid-May, so I am waiting on airbnb to move their cancel date forward and hope to recoup 100%. From the airbnb website in regards to those dates "Cancel your reservation, choose the COVID-19 (coronavirus) reason, and we’ll ask your host to approve a full refund. If they decline and you decide to cancel, we’ll make an exception and give you the service fee as a coupon for your next trip." I take from that that I will still lose 50% of my payment. I haven't contacted either of those two hosts yet since it's still 6 weeks away.
Summary of their cancellation policy right now "Reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before March 14, 2020, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020 and April 14, 2020, are covered by the policy and may be canceled before check-in. Guests who cancel will receive a full refund, and hosts can cancel without charge or impact to their Superhost status. Airbnb will refund all service fees for covered cancellations.
The host’s cancellation policy will apply as usual to reservations made after March 14, 2020, and to reservations made on or before March 14, 2020 with check-in dates after April 14, 2020. Cancellations submitted before March 14, 2020 will be handled according to the extenuating circumstances coverage in effect at the time of submission (not the coverage described here).
JHK, one night was April 15, the other was May 2. These reservation were both made well before the coronavirus issue appeared. But the host's regular cancellation policy was a full refund, including service charge, up to 2 weeks before, and after 2 weeks and up to the day before, full refund minus the service fee. At least that's what their policy said the first time I really took a close look at it.
Hmm, interesting. This really explains why Airbnb is taking such a financial beating. It seems like they are allowing hosts to waive the Airbnb service fee if COVID-19 is stated as the reason for the cancellation.
New policy from airbnb regarding camcellations
*Reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before March 14, 2020, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020 and May 31, 2020, are covered by the policy and may be canceled before check-in. Guests who cancel will have a variety of cancellation and refund options, and hosts can cancel without charge or impact to their Superhost status. Airbnb will either refund, or issue travel credit that includes, all service fees for covered cancellations. In order to cancel under the policy, you will be required to attest to the facts of and/or provide supporting documentation for your extenuating circumstance.
The host’s cancellation policy will apply as usual to reservations made after March 14, 2020. Cancellations submitted before March 14, 2020 will be handled according to the extenuating circumstances coverage in effect at the time of submission.
If a reservation has already begun (the check-in has passed) this extenuating circumstance does not apply.
Different policies apply for domestic reservations in mainland China and for Luxe or Luxury Retreats reservations.
What reservations are covered
Reservations made on or before March 14, 2020
Reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before March 14, 2020, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020 and May 31, 2020, may be canceled before check-in. This means that guests who cancel will receive, at their option, travel credit or a full cash refund, hosts can cancel without charge or impact to their Superhost status, and Airbnb will either refund, or issue travel credit in an amount that includes, all service fees.
Reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before March 14, 2020, with a check-in date after May 31, 2020, are not currently covered for COVID-19 related extenuating circumstances. The host’s cancellation policy will apply as usual.
If a reservation has already begun (the check-in has passed) this extenuating circumstance does not apply.
Reservations made after March 14, 2020
Reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made after March 14, 2020 will not be covered under our extenuating circumstances policy, except where the guest or host is currently sick with COVID-19. COVID-19 related circumstances not covered include: transportation disruptions and cancellations; travel advisories and restrictions; health advisories and quarantines; changes to applicable law; and other government mandates—like evacuation orders, border closures, prohibitions on short-term rentals, and shelter-in-place requirements. The host’s cancellation policy will apply as usual.
Our extenuating circumstances policy is intended to protect guests and hosts from unforeseen circumstances that arise after booking. After the declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, the extenuating circumstances policy no longer applies because COVID-19 and its consequences are no longer unforeseen or unexpected. Please remember to carefully review the host's cancellation policy when booking and consider choosing an option that provides flexibility.
How it works
If you’re a guest, you can review your reservation’s cancellation policy and find cancellation and refund options by choosing your trip from the Trips page. If you’re a host, you’ll find information in your hosting dashboard.
Coronavirus updates and resources
We’ve curated articles to help our community during this time in the Resource Center. You can find the latest information on our COVID-19 response, from policy updates to resources for hosts and guests.
You can also read the extenuating circumstances policy to learn about coverage of circumstances unrelated to COVID-19.
Great! Guess I can cancel my other two accoms! Surprised they didn't send me an email about it, but will prob get one today.
Edit to add - I just went to cancel one of my stays with only 50% refund allowed and it's still saying total refund pending host approval.
That's great, Nicole. Glad to hear that airbnb is being so accommodating. I went ahead and cancelled my reservation as well and will be receiving a full refund which were part of the original terms. I heard in the news today that airbnb will also be supporting hosts impacted by the coronavirus cancellations. A very wise move I think, which will garner loyalty all around when travel will be up and running down the road when this pandemic ends. On a related note, I also cancelled my TGV trains rides from Barcelona to Avignon and Avignon to Paris. The ride from Barcelona to Avignon was fully refunded but SNCF still held me to the 50% only cancellation refund which is fine given the economic challenges ahead for them.
Adrienne - just wanted to mention (for anyone else) about cancelling my two airbnb accoms that only had 50% refund as their policy. It wasn't on airbnb yesterday, but today when I go to one of the listings to cancel, it either gives me the option to get 0% back (I only paid 50% up front) or I can take a credit for what I paid and apply it to the next time we travel - this credit is good until Dec 30, 2021. (trip must start by Dec 2021). They also say they'll pay a sum to the host out of their emergency support fund.