When booking a vacation rental, it always feels like you are signing away your life when you accept the Terms and Conditions. Usually, you glance at the cancellation policy just in case you have to make a change. What you probably don’t think about is what happens if the host cancels. What are your rights then? Unfortunately, apart from a refund, there isn’t much else you will get, and sadly, I learned that the hard way.
My family has been very strict during the pandemic. We would only visit with family and friends outside, six feet apart, if we had to go in to use the bathroom, we wore masks, and made visitors do the same, we didn’t set foot into a store, I met my parents in a parking lot to exchange Christmas gifts since I wasn’t allowed to travel into their state, and we were even too nervous to rent a house somewhere just to get away. We have a two-year-old, who, during the majority of the pandemic, was a one-year-old, and the risk of taking him places unmasked was too great for us.
In December 2020, when healthcare workers started getting vaccinated, we felt confident enough to book a cottage for vacation in August 2021. We figured we’d get a good deal, and we wouldn’t have to worry about it once travel started to boom and cottages would be hard to come by. We browsed Airbnb, and could choose pretty much any cottage we liked. We picked one that was a location we liked, was a good size, and had a nice big screened-in porch. We booked it, and we were thrilled we didn’t have to worry about it, plus we got a nice discount since we booked it so far in advance.
Flash forward to mid-June, 2021, a month and a half before our scheduled trip. Our Airbnb host emailed us saying she had to cancel our reservation, with no reason as to why. We quickly looked at what cottages were available in our price range, and that met our needs. Everything comparable to our original booking was at least $1,000 more. We called Airbnb. They were apologetic and said they would penalize the host. While that is great, it did nothing to help us. They said they could help us find another cottage, and we explained that prices had gone up substantially since we had booked, and nothing was both in our price range and big enough for us. Their answer? “Sorry.” They said they could help us book a new cottage, but we would have to pay the difference in price if there was one.
Airbnb Host Cancels Reservation
I delved into their terms and conditions, and although there is a policy stating Airbnb will reimburse you in full when a host cancels and will help you find alternative accommodations, there is nothing about covering the difference if everything left is above your price point, no matter when the reservation is canceled.
When the Host of a Vacation Rental Cancels your Reservation
We were lucky to find a cottage (not through Airbnb) that wasn’t too much more expensive than our original cottage and we booked it. However, after this whole debacle, I decided to dig a little deeper into the policies of various vacation rental sites on when the host cancels, in case this ever happens again. Here is what I found for many of the popular booking sites.
VRBO’s policy states that, when a host cancels less than 30 days before your reservation, they will “take the time to listen to your unique situation and consider things like the availability of other properties in the area, your original booking and stay dates, and the urgency of the situation to determine if we can cover a portion, or possibly all, of the additional cost of a new rental.”
TurnKey’s Rental Agreement declares that “in the rare event the Unit that you have reserved is for sale, is sold or is otherwise unavailable for any reason as determined by TurnKey, then TurnKey, in our discretion, may provide Guest with a comparable home at no additional cost to the Guest or cancel and refund Guest’s booking.”
According to Vacasa’s Head of Customer Experience, Nate Tomlinson, “Under Vacasa’s standard agreements, [they] have exclusive management of our vacation rentals’ booking calendars, which reduces the risk of cancellations. However, in the unlikely event that a homeowner were to cancel a guest reservation, [their] customer experience team is there to discuss the available options and find the one that works best for our guests—whether that’s rebooking a comparable vacation home nearby with similar or upgraded amenities, providing a Future Stay Credit or issuing a full refund.”
If a Plum host cancels your booking, their “dedicated Customer Care team is on hand to help put you in a suitable, Plum-certified replacement,” and will offer an upgrade at no additional cost, depending on availability. You also have the option of a refund.
Sonder will try to “arrange for suitable alternative accommodations,” and if they are unable to, they state that they “have the right to cancel the applicable portion” of the stay. If you do not accept the alternative, you may cancel the reservations, and receive a full refund. See their House Rules for more information.
Kid & Coe
Kid & Coe will assist in finding a suitable alternative, and apply your previous payment to the new booking. If no alternative is available, you will receive a full refund.
Vacation Rental Cancellation Policies At a Glance
|Booking Site||Full Cancellation Policy||Refund?||Is the Difference in Price Covered?||Notes|
|Airbnb||Cancellation Policy||Yes||No||Will help find alternative|
|VRBO||Cancellation Policy||Yes||Yes||Must be with less than 20 days before booking.|
|TurnKey||Rental Agreement||Yes||Yes||If a similar home is available, they will rebook at no additional cost|
|Vacasa||Rental Terms||Yes||Yes||If a similar home is available, they will rebook at no additional cost|
|Noirbnb||Terms of Service||No||No|
|Plum Guide||Guest Cancellation Questions||Yes||Yes||Will help find alternative|
|Sonder||House Rules||Yes||No||Will help find alternative|
|Kid & Coe||Cancellation Policy||Yes||N/A||Will help find alternative|
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