It’s October in London and it’s getting colder as we approach winter, and even worse it’s now dark at 4:30pm. To me its the darkness that makes London feel miserable. The high number of covid-19 infections in the UK recently seems to be the long awaited second wave of the virus. My area of London is a ‘tier 2’ restrictions. This means no mixing indoors with member not of your own family. This does not seem to be stopping me getting airbnb bookings for my private room listings in my house. However I recently got the news that I have tested positive for covid-19.
Should you cancel your airbnb bookings if you have covid?
Should you cancel your airbnb bookings if you catch covid – Probably yes. Unless you can be 100% certain you will have no contact with your guests and the rooms and guest areas have been completely disinfected should should not accept any guests in your home. You don’t want to take any chances on this, especially if it’s financially not worth it. You are not just risking the health of others. You might very well get banned for life from airbnb and rightly so. Taking the risk of getting banned by airbnb is a big risk. You might find it impossible to start up again. Airbnb recently updated its safety practices including cleaning and made all hosts confirm they have read the new terms and agree with them.
What are the Airbnb enhanced safety practices?
The new safety practices are no doubt an attempt by airbnb to make sure all it’s hosts follow a uniform cleaning and general safety procedure. The recent covid-19 pandemic has hit tourism in general hard and I can understand why a traveler would opt for a proper hotel rather than take the risk on a airbnb. Even if airbnb hosts do provide a more local experience (or whatever makes a unique host) for the guest its no guarantee the host is using the correct cleaning chemicals for each cleaning ‘zone’ be it bathroom, kitchen, or bedroom. I’m sure many hosts don’t take government approved hospitality courses.
What are the penalties for cancelling all your airbnb bookings?
I recently caught covid and immediately I thought the best thing to do is cancel any upcoming booking in my airbnb. Since I offer private rooms in my house it would be difficult to assume I would not have any contact with my guests. We could easily bump into each other in the hallway or perhaps when coming and going thought my front door. So It seemed the safest thing to do was to cancel the two upcoming bookings I had. After cancelling both the bookings using the cancel function in the the Guest Itinerary I received a message from airbnb telling me I had been charged $100 for the second cancellation.
When you cancel on a guest it’s not good business. It’s not good for airbnb in general as it makes the platform seem unreliable. Generally in London you can always find another place to stay in a similar price range and location, but in some places this is less so and could potentially ruin someones plans. I do therefore agree there should be a penalty for hosts when they cancel, especially if its a last minute cancellation. The penalty of $100 USD does seem fair. However it is possible to get this penalty waived in extenuating circumstances. I figured in my case since I have Covid-19 this would fall under such circumstances. I therefore sent a message to airbnb support and asked them to waive the penalty and included a copy of my test results. They agreed to waive the fee.
This time I got my $100 penalty reversed under the airbnb extenuating circumstances policy. But the next time I need to cancel a booking it might not be so easy. I rarely cancel bookings as I believe it’s unfair on the guest. But it has happened to me a couple of times. One I had a last minute arrival of a family member to stay and after consideration it seemed better to cancel the guest than send a relative off to a hotel. Another time I was hosting a room at a friends place and she changed her plans and it meant cancelling a guest. I feel guilty doing this as it can put other people out. But also because it’s very bad business and this sort of think can have unintended consequences.