Airbnb guest cancellation policy
Did your Airbnb guest suddenly cancel? Find out what the Airbnb guest cancellation policies are and what they mean for you as a host.

The Definitive Guide to Setting the Guest Airbnb Cancellation Policy

Airbnb allows hosts to choose the cancellation type for each of their listings. There’s a lot of confusion around this topic for hosts so we’ve put together a handy guide to the guest cancellation policy types and details of each with examples.

In Part I, we’ll cover Airbnb guest cancellation policies. In Part 2, we’ll over Airbnb host cancellation penalties.

These are the terms that apply to all of the cancellation policy types:

  1. If the guest does not check in, cleaning fees are refunded to the guest.
  2. The Airbnb service fee is refundable (up to 3 times per year) if the guest cancels before the trip starts***.
  3. Full reservation costs may be refundable under certain circumstances if cancellation is less than 24 hours before check-in.
  4. If there is a complaint from either the host or the guest, notice must be given to Airbnb within 24 hours of check-in.
  5. Airbnb will mediate if necessary and will have final say in all disputes.
  6. If a guest clicks the cancellation button on the cancellation page, the reservation will be officially cancelled.
  7. IMPORTANT: Cancellation policies can be superseded by the Guest Refund Policy, extenuating circumstances or cancellations by Airbnb for any other reason allowed under Airbnb’s Terms of Service.
  8. Applicable taxes will be retained and remitted by Airbnb.

***This is a change from the previous Airbnb cancellation policy where Airbnb would not refund the booking fees if a guest cancels. Guests are now able to get a refund up to 3 times per year if they cancel.

Airbnb guest cancellation policy

Flexible Cancellation Policy

  1. Guest will receive a full refund on the reservation cost as long as cancellation is more than 24 hours before check-in time (host’s local time or 3PM local time if check-in time not specified), minus booking fees

Example 1 (Cancellation 1 day before arrival with flexible cancellation policy):

You, the Airbnb host, receive and accept a booking from Airbnb guest John for January 1. Check in time is at 5PM your local time. At 12PM, your local time on December 31, John cancels the Airbnb booking because his plans have changed and he will no longer be travelling.

In this case, as John has cancelled the booking more than 24 hours before check-in (host’s local time), you, the host, will receive no payment. You get 💩.

Example 2 (Cancellation less than 1 day before arrival with flexible cancellation policy):

You, the Airbnb host, receive and accept a booking from Airbnb guest John for January 1. Check in time is at 5PM your local time. At 12PM your local time on January 1, John cancels the Airbnb booking because his plans have changed and he will no longer be travelling and he does not check-in.

Because John cancelled the booking less than 24 hours of check-in, you will receive the first night reservation cost. However, as John did not check-in, you will not receive the cleaning fee.

Example 3 (Cancellation during the reservation stay with flexible cancellation policy):

You, the Airbnb host, receive and accept a booking from Airbnb guest John for January 1 to Jan 10. John checks in and decides to cut his stay short because the weather is terrible in your city. He cancels the reservation for Thursday, January 7.

Because John checked in, you receive the full cleaning fee. You will also get the reservation cost from January 1 to January 7 (6 days).

Moderate Cancellation Policy

  1. Guest will receive a full refund on the reservation cost as long as cancellation is more than 5 days before check-in time (host’s local time or 3PM local time if check-in time not specified), minus booking fees
  2. If the guest cancels less than 5 days in advance, the first night is non-refundable but 50% of the reservation cost for the remaining nights will be refunded
  3. If the guest arrives and decides to leave early, 50% of the reservation cost for the nights not spent are refunded but only for the days 24 hours after the cancellation date

Example 1 (Cancellation 5 days before arrival with moderate cancellation policy):

You, the Airbnb host, receive and accept a booking from Airbnb guest John for January 1. Check in time is at 5PM your local time. At 12PM, your local time on December 27, John cancels the Airbnb booking because his plans have changed and he will no longer be travelling.

In this case, as John has cancelled the booking more than 5 days before check-in (host’s local time), you, the host, will receive no payment. You get 💩.

Example 2 (Cancellation less than 5 days before arrival with moderate cancellation policy):

You, the Airbnb host, receive and accept a booking from Airbnb guest John for Friday, January 1. Check in time is at 5PM your local time. At 12PM your local time on December 29, John cancels the Airbnb booking because his plans have changed and he will no longer be travelling and he does not check-in.

Because John cancelled the booking less than 5 days of check-in (host local time), you will receive 100% of the first night reservation cost and 50% of the remaining nights cost. However, as John did not check-in, you will not receive the cleaning fee.

Example 3 (Cancellation during the reservation stay with moderate cancellation policy):

You, the Airbnb host, receive and accept a booking from Airbnb guest John for Friday, January 1 to Sun, Jan 10. Check in time is at 5PM your local time. John checks in and decides to cut his stay short because the weather is terrible in your city. He cancels the reservation on January 6 at 4:30PM your local time.

Because John checked in, you receive the full cleaning fee. You will also get the full reservation cost from January 1 to January 7 (6 days) and 50% of the remaining days from January 7 to January 10 (3 days).

If John didn’t request the cancellation until 5:03PM on January 6, he would still have to pay for the additional day to January 8 as he requested cancellation after your check-in time of 5PM. Guests are refunded 50% of the remaining nights but only for the days 24 hours after the cancellation date. That means you, the host, get paid for 1 extra night.

Please note that more often than not, guests will ask you to “change” their reservation instead of cancelling it. In this case, if you accept the change (you’re not obligated to), then you won’t be eligible for the cancellation amount, so please remember the difference!

Strict Cancellation Policy: 50% refund up until 1 week prior to arrival, except fees

  1. Guest will receive 50% refund on the reservation cost if the cancellation is more than 1 week prior to check-in time (host’s local time or 3PM local time if check-in time not specified), minus booking fees
  2. If cancellation is made less than seven days prior to the first day of the reservation (host’s local time or 3PM local time if check-in time not specified), no refund will be given
  3. If the guest arrives and decides to leave early and cancel their reservation, the remaining nights will not be refunded

Example 1 (Cancellation 7 days before arrival with strict cancellation policy):

You, the Airbnb host, receive and accept a booking from Airbnb guest John for January 1 to January 9. Check in time is at 5PM your local time. At 12PM, your local time on December 25, John cancels the Airbnb booking because his plans have changed and he will no longer be travelling.

In this case, as John has cancelled the booking more than 7 days before check-in (host’s local time), you, the host, will receive 50% of the reservation cost (for 8 days). As John did not check-in, you will not receive the cleaning fees.

Example 2 (Cancellation less than 7 days before arrival with strict cancellation policy):

You, the Airbnb host, receive and accept a booking from Airbnb guest John for January 1 to January 9. Check in time is at 5PM your local time. At 6PM your local time on December 25, John cancels the Airbnb booking because his plans have changed and he will no longer be travelling and he does not check-in.

Because John cancelled the booking less than 7 days of check-in (host local time), you will receive 100% of the reservation cost. However, as John did not check-in, you will not receive the cleaning fees.

Example 3 (Cancellation during the reservation stay with strict cancellation policy):

You, the Airbnb host, receive and accept a booking from Airbnb guest John for January 1 to Jan 9. Check in time is at 5PM your local time. John checks in and decides to cut his stay short because the weather is terrible in your city. He cancels the reservation on January 6 at 4:30PM your local time.

Because John checked in, you receive the full cleaning fee. You will also get the full reservation cost from January 1 to January 9.

The date/time of cancellation is irrelevant in this example because no remaining nights will be refunded for a strict cancellation policy.

Please note that more often than not, guests will ask you to “change” their reservation instead of cancelling it. In this case, if you accept the change (you’re not obligated to), then you won’t be eligible for the cancellation amount, so please remember the difference!

Long Term (reservations of 28 nights or more) Cancellation Policy:

  1. Guest pays first month reservation cost if cancellation is requested before check-in time (host’s local time), minus booking fees
  2. If a guest checks in and decides to cancel, the guest must request a new checkout date; regardless of the new checkout date, the guest is required to pay the host for the 30 days following the cancellation date, or up to the end date of the guest’s original reservation if the remaining portion of the original reservation is less than 30 days

Example 1 (Cancellation before arrival with long term cancellation policy):

You, the Airbnb host, receive and accept a booking from Airbnb guest John for January 1 to February 15. John cancels the Airbnb booking before checking in because his plans have changed and he will no longer be travelling.

Because this is a long term cancellation policy, John will need to pay for the first month’s reservation cost. The remaining 15 days will be refunded to John, minus booking fees. You will receive 31 days (the first month, 31 days in January) of the reservation cost. However, because John did not check-in, you will not receive the cleaning fees.

Example 2 (Cancellation during reservation stay with long term cancellation policy):

You, the Airbnb host, receive and accept a booking from Airbnb guest John for January 1 to February 15. John checks in and decides to cut his stay short because the weather is terrible in your city. He cancels on January 5 and requests a new checkout date of January 10.

You will receive the cleaning fees because John checked-in.

You will receive 30 days of the reservation cost following January 5. John will receive a refund for February 10-15 (5 days).

You will also receive the amount from Jan 1 to 5.

Example 3 (Cancellation during reservation stay with long term cancellation policy):

You, the Airbnb host, receive and accept a booking from Airbnb guest John for January 1 to February 27. John checks in and decides to cut his stay short because the weather is terrible in your city. He cancels on January 30 and requests a new checkout date of February 1.

You will receive the cleaning fees because John checked-in. You will receive 30 days of the reservation cost following February 1. Because the period remaining after the new cancellation date is less than 30 days, you will receive payment for the full reservation cost for the remainder of the reservation period (27 days) and nothing will be refunded to John.

Please note that more often than not, guests will ask you to “change” their reservation instead of cancelling it. In this case, if you accept the change (you’re not obligated to), then you won’t be eligible for the cancellation amount, so please remember the difference!

There are also Super Strict: 30 Days and Super Strict: 60 Days cancellation policies but these apply to special circumstances and are by invitation only. They are like the Strict Cancellation Policy except the only notable difference is refunds are allowed only prior to 30 days and 60 days for the respective policies.

Although these are Airbnb’s official guest cancellation policies, please remember that at the end of the day, Airbnb has the final say and they can decide to do something other than what they’ve declared as their official guideline.

Airbnb guest cancellation policiesTips:

  • During high season, change the cancellation policy to Moderate / Strict
  • During low / slow seasons, change the policy to Flexible to entice more guests to book with you
  • When deciding what policy to choose, remember that Moderate and Strict policies carry higher host fees – 4% and 5% respectively

Happy hosting!