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My family are due to stay in an Airbnb home in the next few days. It's three bedrooms and advertised as having the place to ourselves. We are two adults, and two children (a five year old and a one year old). It is a long drive to get there.

The host has messaged this morning and says that they're having trouble offering us the entire home now, and want to confine us to a single bedroom which they say will accommodate us. We assume that, since this was booked a few weeks ago, they've got other paying guests since who they want the custom of. They also say that they will give us a reduced rate, but that's not the point.

We are currently trying to get a refund and try to stay elsewhere, as we wouldn't want to stay there and be cooped up into a single room (especially with a baby who is teething and having trouble sleeping through, and a good 4 hours drive to get there and the next day another 4 hours), and wouldn't feel especially comfortable with other people there anyway. But is this doable with Airbnb's rules? I admit I've only had a brief look at their T&C's now.

EDIT - the host came back and said that it was they who were having trouble giving us the property, not other guests. They since said that we could have the property, but they would have to leave their dogs in the back garden. We have since cancelled, as we don't like being messed around and don't want dogs we don't know which may wake us and our kids up, and one of our children is currently scared of dogs.

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    Remember to leave a polite but negative review if the host ends up backing out of their promise. These kinds of hosts are ruining the entire concept of Airbnb. – JonathanReez Apr 29 at 7:48
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    If you ever have any problem with AirBNB, complain to AirBNB themselves, you'll get a refund or money off your next trip. They are quite good if you make your point known. I had booked a place and the listing was 10 minutes further walk from the station than they said, they gave me 30% off my next trip, but my trip was only a couple nights so I asked for a dollar value instead, they gave me $150 off. Great! That was 50% of my fare. – insidesin Apr 30 at 2:01
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    The term "bait and switch" is often used to negatively describe a seller behavior where one item is offered for sale, but buyers are told the item is unavailable and offered a substitute that is not as good, overpriced, etc. If you complain to AirBNB, I suggest using "bait and switch" to describe being sold one space and offered another (smaller space). – Paul Apr 30 at 6:19
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    The host probably found out he cannot take the dogs in holidays. Poor dogs. – Rui F Ribeiro Apr 30 at 22:22
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This situation is covered under Host cancellations:

What if a host informs me that the listing I already paid for is now unavailable but they have an alternative?

Even if you’ve already booked your reservation, it’s your choice whether to accept or decline a host’s offer to book an alternate listing.

...

After you’ve paid for your reservation

If your host is asking you to stay in a different listing than you originally booked and you’re okay with a switch, either you or your host can change your reservation. Make sure to check the details of the new listing before accepting a change.

If you’re not okay with a switch or your host is asking you to switch without officially changing the reservation on Airbnb, ask the host to cancel your reservation so you can get a full refund or find another home that better accommodates your stay.

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    I'd just add that you can also contact Airbnb support directly. You're their customer, and they want you to be happy. They won't be at all amused that your host is pulling this nonsense and should be able to facilitate a refund under their rules. – Zach Lipton Apr 29 at 3:20
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    Yes, exactly. Contact airbnb and ask for an immediate refund. You can keep negotiating with the host but it should be on the basis that you got your money back first, and a new listing (if u want) should be a price you accept – vikingsteve Apr 29 at 9:33
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    Definitely contact Airbnb. They'll likely cover some of the cost for a new booking if it's more expensive. – Dougal Apr 29 at 15:44
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Yes, you are entitled to get out without penalty if they cannot deliver their end of what was agreed to - this goes not just for AirBNB rules but for contracts in general, and is the case even if you have already paid, and even if they are trying to negotiate a separate offer - you are not obliged to accept.

That said, what would make sense to me in this situation would be:

  1. Ask the host if you can have the rooms that you originally reserved.

    From what you've said, it's not clear if they definitely cant satisfy your original reservation (ie they've overbooked already), or if they're just hoping you'll agree to a change, but will relent if you don't seem willing. You want to be sure which it is, and if they're just fishing, you want to let it be known that you'd rather stay with the originally booked rooms.

  2. If they say no, tell them you would just like to cancel. If they don't do that via the AirBnB system straight away, follow it up with an email or written message that you'd like to cancel (and briefly why) and keep a record of both that message and their response.

  3. If no luck or if they're not responding quickly, call AirBnB. It's absolutely something that can sort out for you and it shouldn't take too long.

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    Moreover, ask Airbnb to find you alternative accommodation. – JonathanReez Apr 29 at 7:46
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    Depending on jurisdiction they might also be liable for any costs this incurs to you. I wouldn't ask them to cancel but instead to provide what was contractually agreed. If they are not willing to, all costs resulting from this (e.g. having to rent a more expensive apartment) are on them. As I said, depending on jurisdiction. Might have to ask a lawyer. But this happened to me in Spain and we then "agreed" with the host that they will cover the ~350€ we had to pay more. – Josef Apr 29 at 9:16
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    I would suggest contacting the host through Airbnb, not outside. – Salman A Apr 29 at 18:42

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