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The Ultimate Guide to Airbnb Cancellation Policies

The Ultimate Guide to Airbnb Cancellation Policies

Cancellations are inevitable whether you are an Airbnb host or a guest. Airbnb's cancellation policies are meant to make sure both guests and hosts are prepared for the eventuality and are taken care of when cancellations happen.

Let's dive into how each Airbnb cancellation policy works and how to deal with cancellations.

What is Airbnb Cancellation Policy?

The Airbnb cancellation policy is a set of guidelines that ensure fairness and clarity for both guests and hosts. It defines what happens when a reservation needs to be canceled and often depends on the lead time before the booking.

So, how does it work exactly? Well, Airbnb offers several types of cancellation policies, ranging from flexible and moderate to strict. Each of these policies has different rules about when guests can cancel, how much they are refunded and how far in advance they need to cancel to get a refund at all.

Airbnb hosts choose their preferred policy and it applies to all their future bookings.

What Are the 9 Airbnb Cancellation Policies?

1. Flexible policy

This is the most laid-back option for guests. Guests get a full refund if they cancel at least 24 hours before check-in. If they cancel later, you'll be paid for all nights booked, plus one extra night.

Something to keep in mind is that Airbnb's search algorithm favors listings with a flexible policy. This means you have a better chance of getting more bookings and keeping your rental calendar consistently booked.

The downside is that hosts who opt for the flexible policy aren't as shielded from cancellations, which means you might risk losing out on revenue because you're the one taking on all the cancellation risk.

2. Moderate policy

Airbnb's moderate cancellation policy strikes a balance between flexibility and protection.

With the moderate policy, hosts are less vulnerable to last-minute cancellations. Guests can only cancel and receive a full refund until five days before check-in. If they cancel later, you'll be paid for all nights they stay, plus an extra night and 50% of any unused nights.

3. Firm policy

A stricter policy, Airbnb’s firm cancellation policy allows guests to cancel up to 30 days before check-in for a full refund, giving hosts an entire month to rebook the dates.

For cancellations between seven and 30 days before check-in, hosts will receive 50% of all nights and for cancellations less than seven days, the full payment.

The firm policy also allows guests to cancel with a full refund within 48 hours of first making the booking but only if the cancellation date is not less than 14 days before check-in, protecting hosts from last-minute cancellations.

4. Strict policy

This is Airbnb’s strictest policy for short-term bookings. It offers guests less flexibility but gives hosts greater protection.

Under the strict policy, guests can secure a full refund if they cancel within 48 hours of booking if it is at least 14 days before the specified check-in time.

If a cancellation occurs past 48 hours of booking, the guest is only entitled to a 50% refund, regardless of how far off the check-in date is.

If a cancellation takes place at least seven days before the booking date, hosts will be paid 50% for all nights. Any cancellations after that will mean hosts received 100%.

5. Flexible Long-term policy

Airbnb’s long-term cancellation policies can only be applied to stays of 28 nights or more.

With the flexible long-term policy in effect, guests need to cancel a full 30 days before their stay to get their money back. Any cancellations after that will remit 100% for all nights spent plus 30 additional nights to the host. If there is less than 30 days remaining on the reservation, hosts will get full payment for the remaining nights.

6. Strict Long-term policy

The stricter option for long-term stays, guests can obtain a full refund if they cancel within 48 hours of booking as long as it is 28 days or more to check-in.

Cancellations after this period will see hosts paid 100% for the nights already stayed and the next 30 nights. If the reservation has less than 30 days left, you will get paid 100% for the remaining nights.

7. Non-refundable policy

More of an option rather than a policy, this works in concert with a discount.

When a host offers a non-refundable discount, guests can choose the standard rate which works with the cancellation policy you have chosen. Or they can choose the discounted rate which is non-refundable. In this case, if a guest cancels, the host is remitted the entire payout sans the cleaning fee.

The non-refundable rate is valid only until your cancellation policy kicks in. That is, up to one day before check-in date for Flexible, up to 5 days for Moderate and up to 14 days for Firm and Strict options.

8. Super Strict 30 days policy

This is only available to certain Airbnb hosts and under special circumstances.

Guests who cancel 30 days or more before check-in will be refunded 50% and charged in full for later cancellations.

9. Super Strict 60 days policy

This too is an invitation-only policy available to certain hosts.

Guests who cancel 60 days or more before check-in will be refunded 50% and charged in full for later cancellations.

Does Airbnb Recognize Extenuating Circumstances for Cancellations?

Formerly known as the Extenuating Circumstances Policy, Airbnb offers a Major Disruptive Events Policy to recognize mitigating factors for cancellations. The new policy is effective for bookings taking place on or after June 6, 2024.

The extenuating circumstances recognized by Airbnb are:

Public health emergencies and epidemics

This is activated when a government declares an epidemic, pandemic or public health emergency and does not include the flu, disease commonly associated with an area such as malaria in Thailand and COVID-19.

Government travel restrictions

When a government agency imposes a mandatory travel restriction. It does not include non-binding travel advisories or other guidance.

Military actions and hostilities

Acts of war, hostilities, invasions, civil war, terrorism, explosions, bombings, rebellions, riots and insurrection are all recognized as extenuating circumstances for cancellations under this category.

Large-scale outages of essential utilities

This applies if a prolonged outage of one or more essential utilities such as water, electricity or heat occurs and impacts the vast majority of homes in an area.

Natural disasters

Unforeseen weather events are recognized but not those that occur periodically like hurricanes during hurricane season in Florida are not.

When Airbnb decides that the Major Disruptive Events Policy applies, it activates the policy for all listings in the impacted area. Hosts can also cancel if the recognized event leaves them unable to host even after the determined timeframe. For example, if an earthquake has left the property unsuitable for residence.

The policy does not cover common events such as:

  • Flight cancellations or delays

  • Unexpected injury or illness

  • Government obligations like jury duty

  • Cancellation or rescheduling of the event for which the guest is traveling

  • Transportation disruptions like strikes and road closures

Airbnb hosts can cancel without fees or other consequences under this policy but the canceled dates will be blocked. Hosts can also similarly cancel a booking if they have property damage that does not allow them to host the guest as they expect.

Airbnb Host Cancellation Policy

Airbnb always aims to minimize host cancellations. But there are always circumstances in which you, as a host, might have no choice but to cancel a booking.

Depending on the timing and number of cancellations you have made recently, Airbnb will charge you a fee if you cancel a booking.

  • Airbnb will deduct $50 from your next payout if you cancel a booking over seven days before the guest's check-in.

  • You'll have to pay $100 to Airbnb if you cancel less than seven days before check-in.

  • Once you have made at least ten consecutive bookings without canceling, you will not be charged a cancellation fee

  • The corresponding days in your calendar will remain blocked if you cancel a reservation.

  • Airbnb will notify other users that you have canceled a reservation if you cancel before the check-in day. Although you cannot remove this review, you can write a response and explain your side of the story.

Booking reservations must be canceled on time to give guests enough time to adjust their plans, should you be unable to meet them. If you wish to cancel the reservation within 24 hours of the check-in time, you must contact Airbnb directly and will not be able to cancel online.


Airbnb Guest Refund Policy and Cancellations

There is a direct correlation between Airbnb cancellation and refund policies. There are specific instances or problems for which guests are eligible to receive a refund under Airbnb's policy. These include:

Accommodations not accessible

In the event that a host cancels the booking within 24 hours of check-in, changes the reservation details without the guest's consent or fails to provide the keys or access code for check-in.

Inaccurate listing information

If the listing description contained inaccurate or incomplete information. Various factors, such as the property's size, location, number of bedrooms and amenities, might influence this. A broken or malfunctioning appliance could also be listed as an issue.

Issues related to the health and safety of guests

If the host hasn't cleaned the accommodation or disclosed the presence of pets or animals, or the accommodation contains health or safety hazards.

Guests need to notify Airbnb within 24 hours if they experience any of these issues. The final decision regarding the guest's refund or accommodation will be made by Airbnb.

Guests must also provide proof of their claim in the form of photos, videos and other documentation. They also need to show that they made attempts to directly contact and resolve the matter with the host before filing the claim. Airbnb will then investigate the claim and contact the guest with a resolution befitting the situation.

Choose the Cancellation Policy That’s Best for You

Selecting the right policy for your listing is key to maximizing bookings and revenue and ensuring a smooth hosting experience. As a host, it's important to stay informed about these policies, understand the nuances of the Major Disruptive Events Policy and be mindful of the implications of host cancellations on you and your guests.

Ultimately, these policies are meant to foster trust and reliability within the Airbnb community, ensuring that both guests and hosts can look forward to a positive and rewarding experience.


1. What factors should I consider when choosing a cancellation policy for my Airbnb listing?

Consider the typical guest booking behavior for your area such as last-minute vs. advanced bookings, local events that could affect cancellations, your level of comfort with financial risk and competitor policies in your area. Also analyze your past booking and cancellation trends.

Flexible policies can attract more bookings but can lead to more cancellations while stricter policies may deter some bookings but provide more revenue security. If you are confident of being able to rebook last-minute without significantly reducing your rates, then you can take advantage of the positive impacts of flexible policies like higher search rankings to make an informed decision.

2. What should I do if a guest cancels under the flexible cancellation policy and it affects my earnings?

If a cancellation under a flexible policy harms your earnings, consider implementing strategies to mitigate losses, such as offering last-minute discounts to attract new bookings quickly. Adjust your future rates to balance between attractiveness and profitability. Additionally, you can explore setting up minimum stay requirements during high-demand periods to maximize the likelihood of longer, more stable bookings.

3. How do I change the cancellation policy for my Airbnb listing?

To change your cancellation policy:

  1. Log in to your Airbnb host account

  2. Go to Listings and select the listing you want to edit

  3. Click on Policies and rules

  4. Next to Cancellation policy, click Edit

  5. Change your policy and click Save

Remember, changes will only apply to new reservations, so existing bookings will be governed by the policy in place at the time of their booking.

4. Can I offer my own custom cancellation policy outside of Airbnb’s standard options?

Airbnb does not allow hosts to have custom cancellation policies. But you can add specific terms to your house rules, like special requirements for long stays or bookings by large groups. Make sure these custom conditions comply with Airbnb's policies and are communicated clearly in your listing description. You can also mention it in a post-booking message.

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