Airbnb hosts worried about business lost because of coronavirus
Many in the travel, tourism and entertainment industries are having a uniquely tough time amid the COVID-19 pandemic as people around the world cancel vacation plans, avoid large gatherings and try to stay home as much as possible to reduce the risk of community spread.
Airbnb hosts, who don't have the safety net that a large hotel chain might (but do have the capital most of us don't to buy property just for the sake of renting out), are among those finding themselves in a more precarious financial situation than they're used to.
Airbnb hosts are freaking out right now. In a Facebook group for Toronto hosts, one said: "I quit my full time job to do [Airbnb] full time last May. I have 4 units and they have always performed at 90% occupancy or higher until now." https://t.co/EeADzhIH4M— Matt Lundy 📈🖊️ (@mattlundy33) March 11, 2020
Some hosts are citing up to 100 per cent cancellations for units that are usually perpetually occupied — an understandably horrifying change for those who run one or multiple Airbnbs as their full-time job.
The dip has also resulted in impacts on other industries, like cleaning or third-party management companies that service short-term rental properties.
Friend of mine who is Airbnb host reports 100% cancellations. Just informed their cleaning firm they have no work for them. Owner of cleaners in tears. #coronavirus— Simon Jack (@BBCSimonJack) March 12, 2020
There is also the fact that in some areas, vulnerable homeowners like senior citizens with limited (or no) other sources of income rely on renting out a portion of their property for their livelihood — though a long-term tenant would seem a more prudent, stable and ethical choice in such situations.
Every Airbnb host in SF will tell you that they're seeing mass cancellations due to #Coronavirus.— Eric Meyerson (@EricMeyersonSF) March 6, 2020
More than 50% of SF homesharers today are senior citizens who depend on it for their primary income source.
Many people online, though, are finding it hard to sympathize with those who have had the luxury of being able to afford income properties and run them as their "job," especially when short-term rentals have contributed to untenably skyrocketing rental prices and low vacancy rates in major cities, leaving residents strapped to find affordable housing (or any at all).
So if they go broke will the housing they hoarded go back on the market at a reasonable rate. This system where they can charge a month's worth of rent in a week while keeping people out of full-time housing is terrible.— Serious Black (@NicT10) March 12, 2020
"'I was getting money for contributing to the housing crisis but now I might have to work again, oh no'" one Twitter user said on the topic.
Would-be travelers are also particularly unhappy with Airbnb at the moment because they've had an impossible time trying to secure refunds for cancellations made in light of the coronavirus situation.
This is despite the fact that the company claimed it was changing its extenuating circumstances policy for cancellations due to COVID-19.
It's outrageous. We're out over $1K because @Airbnb refuses to cancel the reservations we made in SD even though several in our community have tested positive for #CoronavirusPandemic. Worse yet when asked our host said they would not reimburse us. So they're making $ on this!— Jennifer S. Jones (@JenniferLTC) March 12, 2020
"Every cancellation, especially those which blocked the host’s calendar dates for a few dates, are lost business opportunities [for the host]," an Airbnb representative told a user who recently tried to cancel his stay for an international trip, the Los Angeles Times reports.
With that attitude in the face of a global pandemic, it is understandable why some may find it a little hard to pity anyone affiliated with the company at the moment.
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