Beware of AirBnb on 30+Day Stays, Guests Can Leave Early

33 Replies

I am running a 30-day minimum property on AirBnb/VRBO and just had a bizarre and bad experience with AirBnb that others might want to look out for.  A guest booked my property back in April from June 15th - September 15th (90 days).  The guest was relocating from California, and moving to St. Petersburg, FL to find jobs and look at local housing.  Everything was good until July 5th, when the guest reached out to me and asked if they could cancel the reservation because they wanted to move to another property that was "closer to work" and "closer to where their kids would go to school" even though they were happy with the house.  I told them I wasn't sure, and I contacted AirBnb who told me yes they could cancel early but they would need to pay a 30-night penalty per the AirBnb long-term stay rules.  I reported that to the guest, so then the guest called AirBnb and this is where it gets interesting: 

AirBnb rules allow guests to "amend reservations, but not cancel them" as long as they are greater than 30-nights away from the check-out date and the host does not have to approve the change.  With this, the guest simply changed their check-out date from Sept 15th to July 15th in the system and they are getting to walk away from the reservation with zero penalties.  Upset at this bad policy, I have called AirBnb several times asking what is different between an "amendment" and a "cancellation" when the end result is the same for the host---the guest is walking away early.  

Booking 30-day stays isn't easy, and AirBnb has put me in a bad spot with basically 7-10 days to rebook my 30-day calendar that this guest had 100% locked down since April.  Has anyone had this happen before on a long term stay with AirBnb?  Am I overreacting?  I just feel this guest should have paid "SOMETHING" for walking away from a 90-day reservation at the 30% point, but they are literally only paying the # of nights they actually stayed and then AirBnb is leaving me holding the bag....       

Hey @Bob Mueller Jr. . I would be angry as well. Personally I would make them pay every red cent. I have no idea how that can be done other than getting an attorney involved. 

So far I haven't had any long term shorties at our house. Did they put down a deposit? You could keep that.

@Michael Baum AirBnb doesn't allow for deposits, I think even their pet deposit is very, very weak in that they don't actually collect the deposit from the guest unless a claim is made (and won).  This is very bad cancellation policy by AirBnb for long-term hosts, canceling a 3, 5, 7 day minimum property early is one thing, but us 30-day minimum hosts have enough challenges without AirBnb also letting guests walk out without paying a dime during a stay.  Several of the AirBnb employees I spoke to also couldn't believe the policy, but if you read the long term rules closely the guest can basically just "amend reservation" and leave early at anytime as long as 30 days or more remain before the check-out date.   

Hmm. I thought I had a deposit required for AirBNB. I rarely get requests from AirBNB so I am not sure.

AirBNB seems to be difficult to deal with when things go awry. I am not sure how to proceed. Sorry man.

@Bob Mueller Jr. id say don’t do 30 plus day Airbnb stays at all. Your short term tenant can become a long term tenant if you let them stay 30 plus days, then you would have to evict them. This happened to a lady in California. They came for like 30 days, paid for 2 weeks and took 5 plus months to get them out..

I get suspicious of any guest that wants to stay more than 5 days. Not common in my market. I’ve got one staying 9 days right now and she’s a PIA. Now that I think about it.... might be my longest stay ever. 

That sucks @Bob Mueller Jr. - but I'm kind of unsurprised.  There's a lot of things I like about AirBNB but they do plenty of things that tilt too hard towards the guest and screw over hosts.  

Have you listed on VRBO?  You can look into their policies, which might be friendlier.  I don't deal with 30+ day stays so not sure what the nuance there is, but that might be a better option for you.  (and you might have better booking luck with them, anyway - it seems to vary from market to market, but the common wisdom seems to be that VRBO attracts more guests looking for longer stays)

@Julie McCoy Yes, I am listed with VRBO too. And actually, a VRBO client has since booked this property for pretty much the same exact days the AirBnB client was allowed to bail on. That has taken away most of the salt in this situation for me, but I still feel AirBnB should have paid me some kind of early-out penalty for this guest in case I didn't get it booked again so quickly. I'm still shocked AirBnB has such a careless and idiotic policy in place, I just hope VRBO doesn't because I can only do 30-day minimums thanks to my HOA. If I was able to do under 30 days I wouldn't be so upset by one cancellation.

@Lucas Carl Yes, but my HOA has a 30-day minimum so I have no choice here. My first guest was AirBnB, stayed 45 days, and was great. This is our second/winter home, so I only rent it out May-Nov while we're up north to help offset some of the holding costs. Pinellas County, FL RE taxes ain't cheap!

I do not list on airbnb, I have read more negative than positive threads regarding how they seem guest friendly vs. Host friendly.  I have several 30-90 day reservations, but these are basically all direct bookings. I have a no refund cancellation policy. I have had guest leave a few days early to beat the snowbird traffic in April from Florida and have had one guest who rented 60 days and notified me 2 days in advance that they were leaving 30 days early due to a family situation. I did not give them a refund, but if I could have rented it during that time period, I would have refunded them that amount. These are with direct bookings. I seem to have a different demographic than most of the regulars here. I cater to the retired population, snowbirds in the winter and most of my VRBO reservation are the younger generation, wanting a place to stay while visiting family in the off season. Most of you would probably be surpised to know that the majority of my inquires and reservations when I have availability come from Zillow. I think it may be due to my generation target. But if I were you @Bob Mueller Jr. I woud list on Zillow, the older generation love Florida and I think there is a comfort and familiarity with Zillow and you can book direct and make your own rules.

That’s a terrible policy by Airbnb. I don’t see the logic to it.

On a side note, @Bob Mueller Jr. - what’s been your experience being limited to 30 day plus rentals? I would imagine you have fairly large void periods. Any marketing tips you’ve found to target those looking for 30+? Thanks 

@Michael Baum yes they are very difficult to deal with.I just had a guest trashed my carpet after throwing a party which wasn't allowed to begin with.Guest has refused to pay for the cost of professional cleaning for the carpet and Airbnb refused to step in

This is an awful policy that Airbnb has. Maybe only take long bookings via VRBO or direct or do t take this long of a booking at all in the future.

I personally have never had a booking greater than 30 days. I have families going in vacation or a week or two max.

My longest STR stayed 81 weeks, and he only left because his girlfriend was having a baby and he didn't want his son to have a Kansas birth certificate.

My longest current tenant has been renting since September.  He fell off the porch and broke his arm a few months ago.  He couldn't work, so he went home.  His room mate didn't want to stay here by himself so the house sat empty for a month.  I turned off the air conditioning and threw away the trash.  The 2 guys eventually came back.

Consider this a learning experience.  If it happens again, it's probably going to happen a 3rd and 4th time.  You should re-evaluate your strategy.  Oh, I can probably tell you the real reason the tenant left.  They found some place that costs them less.

Airbnb didn’t care because it sounds like guest simply moved from one profit center to another within its platform. Sorry to hear but glad it worked. I do like the Zillow idea, might be worth looking into, given your longer stays.

Airbnb does not have anything to do with your rental agreement.  You need to protect yourself with proper verbiage  in a rental agreement that the  renter signs,  and that is legally enforceable through Court in your area.

When you hit a month, you are now dealing with potential tenants. Need to treat them like one in your rental agreement.

I do not consider this an Airbnb or VRBO problem, but an oversight on your part. Listing sites exist to match guests and owners. It is your responsibility not to be blindsided but to have an airtight agreement that is properly sign. And you will consider Airbnb as worse than VRBO until VRBO does it to you.

Pretend you got this person through Craigslist. Do you honestly think Craigslist would do anything for you?

@Bob Mueller Jr.

Stinks you got put in a compromised position. Lesson learned, don’t do 30+ night stays. Sorry you had to go through that BS, AirBNB always sides with me on my disputes, I can’t see why they didn’t make them pay some of the money.

Hope this doesn’t ruin your experience with them and things look better in the future.

@Bob Mueller Jr.

I have a vacation lake property in Minnesota and my typical guest stays 3 nights, the longest 10 days. Of the 22 guests I’ve had, the second day of their stay , Pay pal sends me a notice that the full amount of their stay is available in my Paypal wallet and I transfer all of it in one day. Why didn’t you receive all 90 days the same way? Are you paid differently when the nights stayed are larger?

@Marcus Johnson Yes, for guests staying longer than 30 days AirBnB does monthly payments. They charge the guests credit card at the beginning of the month, then they process the payment to me. To be honest, I think the way AirBnB charges is part of the problem, if AirBnB would collect more $$$ upfront they (and the host) would have more leverage on long-term stays. In this case, AirBnB was probably afraid the guest would dispute the penalty or any charges after they vacated the property.