Part II: Airbnb Host Cancellation Penalties
Last week we covered Airbnb Guest Cancellation Policies. This week we’re breaking down exactly what the Airbnb Host Cancellation Penalties are and how they affect your account. Airbnb really tries to discourage hosts from cancelling reservations as it disrupts guests’ travel plans, and most importantly for Airbnb, Airbnb loses money from the transaction not happening.
There are 5 penalties that happen when an Airbnb host cancels a reservation:
- Cancellation fee
- Automated review
- Unavailable/blocked calendar
- Loss of eligibility/loss of Superhost status
- Account suspension
Airbnb will waive the cancellation fee for your first cancellation within a 6-month period. After that, Airbnb will charge the following penalties:
- More than 7 days prior to a guest checking in – $50
- Less than 7 days prior to a guest checking in – $100
The fees above will be deducted from your next payout after the cancellation. Keep in mind that the cancellation fee is based on the amount of time prior to a guest checking in and not when you received and accepted the reservation request. This means that all last minute bookings which you need to cancel will be subject to the $100 fee, as it doesn’t matter when you received the booking.
An automated review will be posted to your profile for that listing noting that you cancelled one of your reservations. These reviews cannot be removed by you but you can always write a public response to explain why you had to cancel. If there are any extenuating circumstances, I would also recommend giving Airbnb a call to explain the situation and ask them if they can remove this automated review, especially if this is your first cancellation and there’s a good reason you had to cancel. It may not work but it’s always worth a shot. If they cannot remove it, I would definitely leave a public response so any future guests know you are not irresponsible and didn’t do it without reason.
Your calendar will stay blocked and you won’t be able to accept another reservation for the same dates of the reservation that was cancelled.
Why does Airbnb do this? To prevent Airbnb hosts who may have accepted a booking much earlier and decide they want to cancel when they realize they can charge 2x-5x what they actually charged. If this is your situation, I would recommend not cancelling but reaching out to your guests and offering them a refund and perhaps even some further incentive to cancel on their end so you can then accept a different reservation. This isn’t recommended host behavior but if your guest is okay with it and can find alternate accommodations, I don’t see this being an issue.
Loss of eligibility/loss of Superhost status:
If you are a current Superhost, you will lose your Superhost status when you cancel a reservation. If you are not a current Superhost, you will not be eligible for Superhost status for a full year after your most recent cancellation. If you are a Superhost and need to cancel for some reason, I would recommend calling the Superhost hotline (see our post Airbnb Resolution Center and Contact Information for Airbnb Hosts for your local Superhost number), explaining your situation and finding out if you can cancel without penalty. Airbnb does allow more concessions towards their Superhosts so it’s always worth a shot to try and call the Superhost hotline before you cancel on your own.
If you cancel 3 or more reservations within one year, Airbnb may de-activate your listing.
Instant Book hosts only:
Airbnb will allow instant book hosts to cancel instant bookings without penalty (“penalty-free”) at any time for the following reasons:
- You’re uncomfortable with a reservation
- A guest breaks one of your House Rules
Penalty-free means none of the cancellation penalties previously mentioned will be applied. These two reasons are the only reasons you may cancel penalty-free. Please also be aware that you must abide by Airbnb’s nondiscrimination policy.
Some examples you may be uncomfortable with a reservation and want to cancel could include the following:
- The reservation is being made for someone else and not the guest who contacted you
- The guest indicated they’d be bringing a pet even though you don’t allow pets or you have clearly included in your instant book terms and conditions that they must contact you first if they are bringing a pet
- The guest has indicated in their messaging somehow that your listing would not be a good fit for them (e.g. guest indicates they are a light sleeper and you have a train running through a block away)
To cancel an Instant Book reservation for one of the reasons listed above:
- Go to Your Reservations and find the reservation you’d like to cancel
- Click Change or Cancel
- Select “I’m uncomfortable with the reservation or the guest has broken my House Rules”
- Click Next and give the reason for your concerns; try and use specific parts from the guest’s message that makes you uncomfortable if possible
- Click Next and write a message to your guest about why you’re cancelling
- Click Cancel reservation
Once you’ve completed these steps, the host cancellation penalties for the Instant Book reservation will be waived and Airbnb will help your guest find another place to stay.
***If the check-in date is less than 24 hours for the Instant Book reservation, contact Airbnb first instead.
***If Airbnb notes that you are abusing the no penalty cancellations for Instant Book reservations, they may turn off your Instant Book option and apply other penalties to your account, including suspending or deleting your account.
Airbnb does allow for exceptions under their Airbnb extenuating circumstances policy. Here are some of the examples they’ve provided for acceptable extenuating circumstances:
- Unexpected death or serious illness of a host or immediate family member
- Serious injury that directly restricts a host’s ability to host
- Significant natural disasters or severe weather incidents impacting the location of destination or location of departure
- Urgent travel restrictions or severe security advisories issued after the time of booking, by an appropriate national or international authority (such as a government office or department)
- Endemic disease declared by a credible national or international authority (such as the US Center for Disease Control or the World Health Organization)
- Severe property damage or unforeseen maintenance issues that directly impact the ability to host safely
- Government mandated obligations issued after the time of booking (e.g. jury duty)
We hope that this has been helpful and you’ll keep it as a handy reference if you ever run into a situation where you may need to cancel a reservation.