Company says it will be working in the days and weeks ahead to identify tools and initiatives to support its hosts during these ‘very challenging times’.

UK Airbnb landlords will now have to offer refunds for cancelled bookings in line with the company’s world-wide response to coronavirus.

After some guests complained they weren’t getting their money back, the bookings platform announced that guests could cancel existing reservations made on or before 14th March, with a check-in date up to 14th April, and get a refund, while hosts could cancel without being charged.

However, Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances policy has been met with dismay by some hosts. Daniel Clarke, estate agent at Potent Property asks on Twitter: “Why is your extenuating circumstances policy allowing guests to cancel at hosts’ expense? You’ve chosen guests over hosts.”

Impact hosts

In a statement, the company said it understood the announcement would impact hosts around the world, many of whom depended on the income it generated.

It added: “We will be working in the days and weeks ahead to identify tools and initiatives to support our hosts during these very challenging times.”

Airbnb has confirmed that it won’t collect any service fees or benefit in any way from reservations cancelled under this new policy.

The booking platform said some hosts had already provided guests with refunds outside of their existing cancellation policies, and that of those reservations cancelled in the last month, 86% of the money was refunded.

Merilee Karr, chair of the Short Term Accommodation Association, believes it’s important for everyone to co-operate during this period of uncertainty.

“All businesses – big and small – are affected from the reduction in travel,” she says. “Our advice is to work together to support our customers and as we call for government support to ensure that our industry comes out of the crisis in the strongest possible position.”

Coronavirus looks set to delay Airbnb’s plans to become a publicly traded company this year. Airbnb had planned to make an initial public offering, however, this is now in doubt until the virus has been contained.]

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