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I'm a college student looking for 6 week housing in NYC this coming winter and have found a private bedroom on Airbnb. While I understand the cancellation policy for guests, I am nervous that my host could cancel the agreement right before I go, leaving me without a place to stay when I start my job. Is there an Airbnb policy that I am missing, or is there a way to alleviate my concern?

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A host can incur significant penalties if they cancel on you.

Because cancellations can have serious implications on a guest's trip, there are penalties that will be applied for host cancellations.

A cancellation fee. If you cancel any reservation within 7 days of check-in, you'll be charged a $100 fee. Additionally, if you cancel more than one reservation within a six-month period, you'll be charged $50 per cancellation.

We'll automatically deduct any applicable cancellation fees from your next payout.

Automated review. An automated review will be posted to your listing's profile indicating that you canceled one of your reservations. We encourage you to publicly respond to clarify why you needed to cancel.

Unavailable/Blocked calendar. Your calendar will stay blocked and you won't be able to accept another reservation for the same dates of the canceled reservation.

Loss of eligibility for Superhost status. You won't be eligible to earn Superhost status for one year after your most recent cancellation.

Most pertinently:

If the host cancels, they cannot book anyone else for that six week period, and if they cancel within 7 days before you check in, they pay a $100 penalty. Others will also be able to see that they canceled a reservation.

These penalties can only be waived under extenuating circumstances, many of which would also impact your trip.

In the rare instance where extenuating circumstances arise, a host may need to cancel a confirmed reservation. In such cases, we may elect to forgo the cancellation penalties outlined in our Terms of Service. Such cases will be contingent on proper documentation, where valid, and include:

  • Death in the family
  • Serious illness or serious illness in the family
  • Natural disaster in the country
  • Political unrest in the country
  • Property damage
  • Maintenance issues that affect the ability to host

As a result, a host is very unlikely to cancel, and if it happens, it will be for only the most pressing reasons.

  • Good info. This could still see the host cancel because of an offer he couldn't refuse, outside of airbnb. – MastaBaba Nov 15 '15 at 2:38
  • It would be good to know what happens if the host cancels and creates a new account. It would be good if airbnb prevents this from happening so guests can have a certain degree of assurance when making a reservation. – JordanBelf Nov 15 '15 at 3:02
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    @JordanBelf That wouldn't work if they tried to list the same address! – Michael Hampton Nov 15 '15 at 3:44
  • One reason not covered is stepped-up enforcement of condo association codes and no-sublease clauses. However, I think the OP will have less trouble with a 6-week stay, which looks less like Air BnB and more like a traditional sublet. When last I looked at VRBO and Craigslist for New York, at least half the listings were scams. (These could generally be identified by Too Good To Be True prices and deposits requested by Western Union.) At least Air BnB should have weeded this out. – Andrew Lazarus Nov 15 '15 at 17:09
  • @AndrewLazarus I had a host cancel for that reason, blaming his condo HOA. – fredsbend Apr 24 at 22:09

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