An Arizona homeowner explains why she left Airbnb

  • An Arizona homeowner who listed her home on Airbnb for three years is leaving the platform.
  • She said she sees the company’s cancellation and refund policies as favorable to guests.
  • The owner of short-term rentals near Phoenix explained why she now only lists her home on Vrbo.

An Arizona homeowner who rented her home through Airbnb for three years said she left the platform in February because she felt the booking giant’s policy on cancellations and refunds was too favorable for guests.

The owner, who lives in the popular Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, said she now only accepts reservations on Vrbo. (She had previously listed her property on both platforms.)

“It’s not worth the hassle,” said the homeowner, who asked to remain anonymous because she has yet to apply for the $250 permit needed to operate her short-term rental beginning in January 2023.

She has bookings in March and April and then plans to move back into the house as her primary residence at some point thereafter.

The Arizona homeowner joins other short-term rental owners and managers who have expressed dissatisfaction with Airbnb as a booking platform. While Airbnb is the dominant platform over competitors like Vrbo and, hosts have previously boycotted the platform over policies they believe guests prefer.

In December, Sara and Tony Robinson, who own 22 active short-term rentals that bring in $1.3 million in annual revenue, told Insider they wanted to reduce their reliance on Airbnb and encourage direct bookings to avoid fees. Rick Carlson, who owns four rental homes in the popular resort town of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, said last summer that he would convert his properties to long-term or annual renters, among other reasons, exhausted by “ridiculous” guest demands.

The frustration with Airbnb comes as short-term rental owners face more competition than ever, with some fearing an “Airbnbust,” described as a slowdown in bookings or revenue as rising traveler demand is overwhelmed by oversupply. In 2022, short-term rental analytics site AirDNA recorded the highest number of listings in the US — 1.4 million nationwide — and warned hosts of a slight drop in occupancy in 2023.

The Arizona homeowner said the specter of a slowdown also played a role in her decision to leave the platform.

“It’s not necessarily the cash cow it used to be,” she said.

Your journey with Airbnb, then stop

In March 2020, the Arizona homeowner planned to rent out her three-bedroom Scottsdale home on Airbnb while she traveled the world.

Though COVID-19 restrictions and family commitments kept her in Arizona, the domestic travel boom following the pandemic lockdowns convinced her to keep her home on Airbnb to earn a little extra cash.

It worked. At its busiest, the property generated $12,000 in revenue each month.

Now, however, she said Airbnb’s policy on refunds and in-stay cancellations drove her off the platform.

One of her complaints is that Airbnb’s cancellation policy is too lenient, in her opinion. Hosts can choose from a preselected list of options designed by Airbnb, ranging from flexible to strict. Currently, the strictest cancellation policy allows a guest to cancel between 7 and 14 days prior to reservation and receive a 50% refund.

The Arizona homeowner said she believes seven days is not enough time to reasonably rebook the property.

Vrbo offers stricter cancellation policies, she added, including options that say bookings are non-refundable if canceled less than 60 days before the first day of the reservation — or even non-refundable.

Airbnb also offers a non-refundable option, but hosts can only offer it—not demand it.

The Arizona host also struggled with how Airbnb allows guests to request refunds during their stay. Airbnb’s official instructions advise guests to first notify the host through the platform to resolve the issue. However, guests can request a full refund.

If a host doesn’t respond to the original request within an hour, the policy says, Airbnb can step in and work things out directly with the guest.

It’s putting a lot of pressure on hosts, the Arizona homeowner said.

“The mental and emotional stress of being tied to the phone” became too onerous, she said, adding that she always feared Airbnb would make a decision she didn’t agree with, which would result in lost income.

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