Airbnb updates its policy for summer rentals and beyond—what to know

Situations where you can cancel with a refund may no longer apply

Erika Mailman
Written by
Erika Mailman
USA contributor
Airbnb Paris: Stunning room, Belleville
Photograph: Shutterstock

Just in time for summer travel, Airbnb is updating its Extenuating Circumstances policy. The new guidelines will apply to all reservations taking place on or after June 6, 2024, even if you booked earlier. The policy covers how cancellations work and whether guests will receive refunds or credit if something causes them to cancel the reservation—and covers when and if a host can cancel without fees or other adverse consequences.

First of all, the following events are covered, meaning that you can cancel your reservation if one of these conditions applies:

  • Declared public health emergencies and epidemics. An epidemic or public health emergency must be officially government-proclaimed to count. Endemic diseases like the flu don’t count, nor do diseases commonly associated with the area in question (Airbnb uses the examples of malaria in Thailand), nor does COVID-19.
  • Government travel restrictions. This only applies to mandatory travel restrictions imposed by a governmental agency, such as an evacuation order, and doesn’t apply to travel advisories, even if they are government-issued.
  • Military actions and other hostilities. Acts of war, hostilities, invasions, civil war, terrorism, explosions, bombings, rebellions, riots, and insurrection: these all count.
  • Large-scale outages of essential utilities. You may cancel if a prolonged outage of essential utilities—such as heat, water, and electricity—affects the vast majority of homes in a given location.
  • Natural disasters. Natural disasters and other severe weather events are covered if they are unusual and sudden. Check here to see Airbnb’s list of worldwide regions and the typhoons, storms, and other weather conditions that won’t be covered because they are foreseeable and even expected, such as a hurricane in Florida during hurricane season. Such weather conditions would only be covered if they resulted in mandatory evacuation or large-scale utility outages.

And on to the circumstances that are not covered:

  • Events that impact a guest or their ability to travel, but not the reservation location
  • Unexpected injury or illness
  • Government obligations like jury duty or court appearances
  • Non-binding travel advisories or other government guidance that fall short of a travel ban or prohibition
  • Cancellation or rescheduling of an event for which the reservation was made
  • Transportation disruptions unrelated to a covered Event, such as airline insolvency, transportation strikes, and road closures due to maintenance

However, Airbnb encourages guests to work with hosts to find a mutually acceptable arrangement. Maybe you can postpone to another date, or maybe you’ll receive a partial refund, all at the host’s discretion. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!

This policy change joins another recent one, Airbnb’s decision that no security cameras are allowed inside rentals, which goes into effect at the end of this month.

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