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I don't understand how airbnb cancellation policies work. I try to rent the same appartment for almost same dates.

If I rent 01.07 - 28.07 then I have "Flexible Cancellation Policies" and "Full refund 1 day prior to arrival, except fees".

If I rent 01.07 - 29.07 then I have "Long Term Cancellation Policies" and no refund:

If the guest books a long term stay and decides to cancel the long term agreement before the start date, the first payment is paid to the host in full.

So it's a big difference and I just want to double-check that I'm correct. It's much better to reserve for 28 days, not 29, because then I will be able to cancel my reservation and get all my money back.

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That seems to be the policy and they are free to make any policy they like just like you can give yourself the policy of not renting something that you cannot cancel :) It sounds crazy to me. I would expect then to hold of a few days at most. – Itai May 12 '13 at 23:30
Why not make two consecutive reservations? One for the first 15 nights and then a second for the next 14. – smillig May 13 '13 at 6:35
@smillig and pay airbnb commision twice. also note that usually (not always) the more nights you book - less money you pay per night. – javapowered May 13 '13 at 6:36
Book for 29 night, pay the commission once, get a better price and take a risk to loose a substantial amount if you can't travel. Or pay a bit more and be sure to loose nothing when you can't travel. The higher price is in fact a kind of insurance premium ... Assess the risk and the payoffs and take a decision. – André Peseur May 13 '13 at 21:09
YOu have to take this decision by yourself. Nobody can take it on your behalf. – André Peseur May 13 '13 at 21:10

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Airbnb's "Long Term Cancellation Policy" is that for stays of one month or more, if you cancel, you have to pay the first month's rent. This makes a lot of sense if you've booked a place for 6 months... but as you've discovered, it's pretty harsh for a stay of exactly 1 month.

Official version:

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right it's very harsh because we need to book for 1-1.5 month and we even don't have visa. so possibly by some reason we will not receive visa and then we have to cancel. also we need booked appartment to ask for visa, so we can't make visa first and make a reservation after. another harsh - booking for 28+ days is much cheaper (around 30% cheaper) than booking for 27 days because montly rate is less than daily rate :) in total there are no good solution of this situation :) – javapowered May 13 '13 at 5:16
@javapowered You may contact the landlord, explain the issue, and ask whether he can make you an offer because you would like to stay longer. Also, perhaps you could book 27 days, then - once you have the visa - change your booking to 28 days or longer. I suggest contacting Airbnb. They're responsive. – feklee May 13 '13 at 18:41
@javapowered It seems harsh but what if you look at the situation from the other side. The host will have tied up their home for a month for you which means anyone else who is traveling can't be booked. Then, at the last minute, you cancel your reservation proposing that the host be left with nothing but the hope someone else wants to take a last minute trip to recoup what they expected to earn from your stay. – Dean MacGregor Jul 25 '14 at 18:07
I agree with @javapowered it is extremely harsh policy...I booked for 1.5 months and I had to move after 1 month, now I am forced to pay 343 euros for the time I wont even be there, I cancelled it and the host can have someone else for the remaining 15 days and keep my money as well. Is really encouraging greediness among the Hosts? I this YES! – Anirudh Feb 6 at 10:27

Yes, it makes a big difference.

According to Airbnb (under the "Long Term" tab):

The Long Term cancellation policy applies to all reservations of 28 nights or more

This makes it clear. In the first scenario you are staying 27 nights. In the second scenario you are staying 28 nights and you are thus crossing the magic threshold. A different cancellation policy applies.

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For this situation the long term cancelation is completely unfair and it is baffling as to why AirBnb has left it unchanged for so long.

It would make a lot more sense to create something like a "semi-long-term policy" for stays less than 60 days or so to be based on weeks not months. For example, if you cancelled on a 28 day stay a month before checkin you would pay one week, not cost the entire stay! And if you cancelled during your 28 day stay you would pay the next week, not the next month (which wouldn't even be possible if you were staying for another three weeks). The reality is that no one really wants to cancel, but if the place is just unlivable for some reason and the owner is a jerk AirBnb still puts them in the drivers seat to take all your money.

I think everyone understands that if they cancel last minute there is a lost opportunity cost to the owner, but it is rarely ever a 100% and it is ignorant for AirBnb to treat it this way. I personally like AirBnb for a lot of reasons, but this issue definitely makes me look elsewhere for month long stays.

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