Trip Planning - 13 min read

Airbnb’s Cancellation Policy (Flexible, Strict & Longterm Options)

Alexis Musgrave

Alexis Musgrave, Updated October 18, 2022

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Airbnb is an excellent website design to connect travelers with affordable experiences outside of the traditional hotels. Hosts create beautiful homes and rent out spaces for travelers to enjoy their city in a more authentic setting. However, sometimes plans fall through and you may need to cancel your Airbnb reservation.

Airbnb lets hosts choose the cancellation policy for their space, so they differ between each booking. There are flexible, moderate, firm, and strict cancellation policies for both short-term and long-term stays. Refunds differ depending on each policy. However, if your booking is inaccurate or includes a safety issue, then you will always get a refund.

Overall, Airbnb has a pretty gracious cancellation policy. It is best to check out the cancellation policy before making your reservation to prevent confusion. Certain extenuating situations and inaccuracy with the listing, then you will surely get a refund. But if the cancellation is personal, then you will only get a refund if you adhere to the cancellation policy.

There are a large variety of cancellation policies that are chosen by the host. So here is a rundown of all the different policies and what they mean for you, the traveler!

What is Airbnb’s Cancellation Policy?

The most important thing to understand about Airbnb’s cancellation policies is that they change depending on the host. Meaning there is not a singular set of rules to understand. Although it may be frustrating, it is beneficial to the guests and hosts alike. Each host is able to choose their cancellation policy from a flexible to a super strict set of rules. So some locations allow you to cancel 24 hours before for a full refund, while others require a month’s notice to get a full refund.

The best way to get your refund back is to cancel your reservation at least one week in advance. This is the median range of when the different policies will give you the refund, so try to shoot for that deadline. We will describe all the different policies in the next section!

There are several extenuating circumstances that override the set cancellation policies. Events that are far out of your control, such as natural disasters or sudden epidemics, constitute a full refund that trumps the set policy. However, if your flight gets canceled or a personal event comes up that causes you to cancel last minute, that will be faulted to you and you will need to adhere to the policy.

Additionally, if you arrive at your Airbnb and find that there are health hazards or the listing was quite inaccurate, you could also receive a refund. Things such as mold infestations, a room in a house when you were told you could use the whole house, or an inaccessible listing could all be grounds for a cancellation with a refund. However, Airbnb will use pictures and your report to determine if you will get a refund.

What are the Airbnb Cancellation Options?

There are a large variety of Airbnb cancellation options that can often seem confusing. Hosts get to choose which cancellation policy they allow for their listing so depending on its popularity and worth. So you may not be eligible to get a refund if you cancel the reservation.

As you book your reservation, you will see a small section outlining which cancellation policy that location has but for further clarification here is a breakdown of every Airbnb cancellation policy you will find.

Flexible Policy

The flexible cancellation policy is the most forgiving of Airbnb’s policies. This allows guests to cancel their reservation up to 24 hours before check-in for a full refund. Which allows you to tentatively book a place without needing to fully commit. Many of Airbnb’s low-budget locations have this policy, making them ideal options for flexible-budget travelers.

However, if you cancel after that 24-hour deadline, then you have to pay for each night you reserved plus one extra night. If you see that your future reservation has a flexible cancellation policy, know that if something comes up you will easily be given a refund.

Moderate Policy

The moderate policy is a more traditional cancellation policy. Guests can cancel until 5 days before check-in for a full refund. It is nice because you have just under a week to cancel if something comes up, which can take away a bit of stress!

However, if you cancel after this 5-day deadline, you will pay 50% for all of the unspent nights plus 1 extra night. It also happens that you need to cancel in the middle of your stay. If this happens you will still have to pay for the nights you stayed, but get the 50% refund on the nights you didn’t.

Firm Policy

The firm cancellation policy is not Airbnb’s most restrictive policy, but it does limit your refund ability quite a bit. In order to receive a full refund, you must cancel at least 30 days before check-in. Next, if you cancel between 7 and 30 days before check-in, you’ll have to pay 50% of the nights you reserved. Finally, you cancel less than 7 days before check-in, you’ll not get a refund at all.

There is a specific case in this policy for those who book two weeks before their stay. Guests can receive a full refund if you cancel within 48 hours of booking. But only if the cancellation occurs at least 14 days before check-in. So this policy works well for those who do not book their stays very far out in advance!

Strict Policy

As one might guess, the strict policy is the most rigid of Airbnb’s cancellation policies. You should be very certain of your trip before booking with hosts that enforce this policy. Because you will likely not get a refund if you cancel.

If you would like to receive a full refund, you must cancel within 48 hours of booking, and the cancellation must occur at least 14 days before check-in. This is the same as the firm policy. If you cancel between 7 and 14 days before check-in, you will need to pay for 50% of the nights you would have stayed. Finally, if you cancel after 7 days before the check-in, you will not get a refund.

Long Term Policy

Airbnb tends to have excellent long-term stay options for extended travelers. Long-term stays are considered reservations longer than 28 consecutive days. The long-term policy has both strict and flexible options for the host to choose from. So here is a simple overview of both of these long-term policies!

The strict long-term policy states that you must cancel within 48 hours of booking, and the cancellation must occur at least 28 days before check-in, to receive a full refund. If you cancel after you check in, you will have to pay for the nights you spent there plus 30 extra nights. Additionally, if fewer than 30 days remain on the reservation when you cancel, you will have to pay 100% for all of those remaining nights

The flexible long-term policy only gives you a few extra days to cancel and get a full refund. You have to cancel at least 30 days before check-in to get a full refund. If you cancel in the middle of your stay, you will need to pay for all the nights you spent plus 30 extra nights. And if you cancel with less than 30 days remaining on your reservation then you will need to pay for the remaining nights you booked.

Super Strict 30-Day Policy

The Super Strict 30-Day Policy on Airbnb is very rare for guests and hosts alike. This policy is invitation-only and available only to certain Hosts under special circumstances. If you happen to run into it as a guest, be very confident you will use the reservation. In the case that something comes up and you cancel a booking with this policy, you must do so at least 30 days before check-in to receive a 50% refund for all nights. If you cancel after that, you will have to pay 100% for all nights you reserved. It does not come up often, but is an important policy to be aware of!

Super Strict 60-Day Policy

You will not run into this super strict 60 Day Policy very often on Airbnb. This policy is invitation-only for certain Hosts under special circumstances, meaning it is very rare. However, if you do find your dream Airbnb room and it has this policy, you must be extra sure you will be there for it! 

You must cancel at least 60 days before check-in to receive a 50% refund for all nights. And if you cancel after the 60-day deadline then you will have to pay for the full booking. Luckily, this restrictive policy rarely happens so you will likely never run into it!

Does Airbnb Have An Extenuating Circumstances Policy?

Airbnb understands that there are events that are wildly outside of your control that could cause you to cancel. So Airbnb does have an Extenuating Circumstances Policy that includes a wide range of events. These events are:

  • Natural disasters
  • Military actions and other hostilities
  • Sudden government travel restrictions
  • Global epidemics
  • Declared emergencies
  • Unexpected changes to governmental travel requirements

Beyond these events, the fault for cancellation will fall on you. So if you miss a flight or have to cancel your trip due to a personal complication, then you must adhere to the host’s cancellation policy.

So it is nice to know that some events you can not control do not inhibit you from getting a refund for your Airbnb stay! Overall, Airbnb’s cancellation policy is incredibly fair but this helps ease the mind of nervous travelers, as we all know anything can happen!

What is Airbnb’s Host Cancellation Policy?

The Host Cancellation Policy for Airbnb is pretty simple! If the host cancels your reservation after you booked it, you will automatically get a full refund. Airbnb knows that if a host cancels on you it can cause many problems, so they tend to heavily fine the host when this happens. That way hosts are encouraged to be reliable! But if something does happen you will not have to pay for it.

Host Cancellations are pretty rare on Airbnb, so you will likely never run into one. But if you do, the refund will be automatic. This means you will not have to message will Airbnb and wait to see if they approve your request, as it is with certain policies.

Airbnb Guest Refund and Cancellation Policy

As you have seen with the different cancellation policies if you do not cancel before the established deadline then you will not get a full refund on your reservation.

However, if you arrive at your reservation listing and find there are serious health, safety, accessibility, or accuracy issues and are forced to leave, then you may be entitled to a refund. You will have to prove your case to an Airbnb representative before they can approve the refund. However, here are the situations that could entitle you to a full refund.

Inaccurate Listing

An inaccurate listing is a pretty straightforward claim for a refund. An inaccurate listing is when the listing description contained inaccurate or incomplete information. If you arrive at an Airbnb listed as a full house and find you are just paying for a bedroom in someone else’s house, then that would be an inaccurate listing.

But this can be many other factors as well. Things such as the property’s size, its location, number of bedrooms, and amenities apply to an inaccurate listing. A broken or malfunctioning appliance could also be listed as an issue. These misleading inaccuracies are not fair to place on an unsuspecting guest, so Airbnb is happy to offer a refund for these large issues.

Not Accessible

An accessibility issue applies to problems with getting to your reservation. There are several different situations that could entitle you to a refund, and the best way to find out is by chatting with an Airbnb representative.

One of the most major accessibility violations is in the host cancels your booking within 24-hours of check-in. This is not acceptable by Airbnb’s standards and they will be sure to compensate you for the incipience.

Other situations include the host making changes to the reservation details without the consent of the guest or failing to provide the keys or access code for check-in. Situations like these are not your fault, so Airbnb will work with you to fix the problem!

Health & Safety Issues

The health and safety section of this refund policy is a bit tricky since it is such a broad topic. Health and safety could be anything from pest infestations, visible mold within the home, broken windows, and many other different events.

Another would be if the host did not clean the space or told you of the presence of pets or other animals. All of these can be hazardous and grounds to claim your refund.

This is true for all refund claims in this section, but particularly the health and safety one. It is very important that you to notify Airbnb within 24 hours if you experience any of these issues. You can make your case with photos, videos, and other documentation. As you are required to provide proof of your claim.

It is important that you also show that you made attempts to directly contact and resolve the matter with the host. After you have your evidence, Airbnb will investigate the claim and contact you with a resolution befitting the situation. Eventually, the final decision regarding the guest’s refund or accommodation will be made by Airbnb.

Conclusion

This is a whole lot of information, so do not feel bad if you worry you won’t remember it! Airbnb’s policies are flexible to work for both guests and hosts alike, so there is a lot involved in making the platform a middle ground for everyone to enjoy.

There are three main points you should take away from Airbnb’s cancellation and refund policies. Number one is to check out the policy before you pay for your reservation. This is the best way to understand how you are covered in case something happens to your plans.

Number two, Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances are for large disturbances and not personal ones. If you are wanting to cancel your reservation after the set deadline because your flight was canceled or a work issue came up, unfortunately, that is on you. You could plead your case to Airbnb, but you are unlikely to get your money back.

Finally, number three is if you find a problem at your listing, collect evidence! Your claim for a refund can not be on your word alone. There should be pictures and attempts through chats with the host to find a solution. Otherwise, your refund request could be denied.

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