The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a global pandemic that has altered many facets of human life in the past few months as countries take measures to contain the outbreak and protect the safety of their citizens. The travel industry has especially been affected as people are being forced to cancel or change their pre-existing travel plans, whether international or domestic, as more countries are being labeled high-risk areas for contracting the virus.
This has taken a toll on the short-term rental business, as short-term renters and hosts are working through solutions in response to coronavirus-related cancellations. Individuals who have created a small business out of offering their properties as short-term rentals are faced with the financial burden of offering a full refund for travelers who wish to cancel their stay due to the coronavirus. It is resulting in a substantial revenue loss for businesses that depend on the funds from renting out their properties to pay their mortgage and make other necessary payments, or as a source of passive income.
Using Airbnb or Vrbo for booking accommodations is typically a budget-friendly option for travelers, but these companies have their own unique cancellation policies that might differ from hotels or other mainstream options.
Airbnb provides the following coverage for COVID-19 under their extenuating circumstances policy (as of press time): “Reservations made on or before March 14, 2020 for stays and Airbnb Experiences, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020 and June 15, 2020, are covered by the policy and may be cancelled before check-in. Guests who cancel will have a variety of cancellation and refund options, and hosts can cancel without charge or impact to their Superhost status. Airbnb will either refund or issue travel credit that includes all service fees for covered cancellations. The host’s cancellation policy will apply as usual to reservations made after March 14, 2020, and to reservations made on or before March 14, 2020 with check-in dates after June 15, 2020.”
Reservations for stays or Airbnb Experiences that are made on or before March 14, 2020, with a check-in date after June 15, 2020, will not be covered under their extenuating circumstances policy, except if the guest or host has contracted COVID-19. Therefore, the host’s cancellation policy applies as usual.
Vrbo recommends that homeowners review their cancellation policy and “consider adopting a flexible or moderate policy for the time being,” and they encourage them to offer a full refund to travelers who cancel or delay their travel plans, although neither is required. Short-term renters are at the mercy of homeowners, who are also understandably worried about the costs to their business, regarding the content of their cancellation policy.
Whether you’re a short-term rental guest or a homeowner, it’s important to keep updated on the current cancellation policies of the organization through which you book a rental or rent out your space. In this time of uncertainty, the best thing we can do is be prepared for any possible scenario and make the best decision we can for the safety of ourselves and others.
Desirée Patno is the CEO and president of Women in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) and Desirée Patno Enterprises, Inc. (DPE), as well as chairwoman of NAWRB’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council (NDILC). With 30 years of experience in housing, Patno is a champion for women’s economic growth and independence. In 2017, Entrepreneur.com named her the Highest-Ranking Woman and 4th Overall Top Real Estate Influencer to Follow. For more information, please visit www.nawrb.com.
Difficult to have concern for an industry which often abuses area ordinances such as trying to turn single family zoned residential areas into multiple boarding houses where two bedroom homes are listed as accommodating as many as twelve people.
thanks for the article. in regard to the comment by ms. kolinski, every industry has abuses, as is human nature, and every industry needs regulations. airbnb is a home sharing platform that allows hundreds of thousands of people to share their home, brings millions of much-needed dollars into cities, and allows people to travel to places they never would have been able to afford before. covid19 has placed tremendous financial pressure on those who depend upon both airbnb and vrbo. individuals make up our society, they’re not just “an industry”. it is for us to be concerned about our fellow citizens and how we can regulate abuses in any industry, though the ones you mention are the exception and not the rul.
We are embarking on a new business venture of an Airbnb with the thought that many families cannot or will not leave their pets at home or in a kennel. A home-like environment is a perfect solution for them. It also can be a more safe and enjoyable place to be without elevators dinging, raucous conversations in the halls, sirens and other foreign distractions that make a vacation stressful. A clean, quiet retreat with dark night skies and close to amenities and recreation seems ideal. We do not plan to rent to larger-than-capacity groups just for the sake of a dollar. This will be a home away from home, hopefully, for people who value that concept. Perhaps the Covid inoculations and improved treatments will allow more travel and peace of mind and spirit.
B.S. I despise Air B n B… Leave your pet at home. Rent a hotel room. Zoning is an important part of neighborhoods and having transitional housing in a community is just plain stupid.
I stopped renting my home last year, as the renters thru VRBO, do not abide by my rules. They think no one is at the property to enforce house rules, and once they pay all the rules they agreed to go out the door. My insurance company now has a disturbing rider, that says they will not be there is insure me if someone gets a communicable disease while staying at my home?! Being a Realtor, this was “the straw that broke the camels back”. What happened to the owner’s rights and protections? Lol, it is cheaper on the pocket to not rent it. The cleaning, laundry expenses, utilities, VRBO fees, wear and tear on the home, and the work I do to manage it. All this comes at a high price and stress, that I no longer have.
These abuses are not the “exception not the rule”. I owned and operated a perfectly legal B&B for just under 20 years and I was very involved in observing, first hand, the dawning days of AirB&B. They fouted rules and regulations in every city in the US that I am aware of… even when it was made perfectly clear what the regulations were. I have had guests come to me after finding terrible conditions.. or creepy situations in host homes. AirB&B did not regulate and it was Russian Roulette when you booked a stay. The prices were so reasonable because the hosts did not pay taxes or an accountant or have the proper insurance. While of course there were and are individual hosts who give a wonderful place for their guests, it still does not negate the company totally ignoring the rules for the sake of the almighty dollar… and the hosts are normally none the wiser. AirB&B protects themselves by saying they are a “platform” and they can hide behind certain internet protections. Not so, the host… but hosts often dont know that. Many legit B&B’s went out of business, and millions in taxes were not paid.