Airbnb to scrap hidden charges and clamp down on ‘unreasonable’ chores demanded by hosts

So-called ‘junk fees’ for cleaning, services charges and more can add hundreds to rental prices

Lucy Thackray
Wednesday 09 November 2022 14:24 GMT
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Airbnb is responding to years of customer complaints by putting an end to the hidden extra costs on its holiday rentals - and cracking down on “unreasonable” chores demanded by hosts.

Known as “junk fees” the accommodation booking site’s sneaky extras are well known for popping up after users have a selected a good-value property, often adding tens or even hundreds of pounds to the final price.

From December, users will be able to select an “upfront” price view with everything included, such as cleaning charges, and arrange their searches according to that price rather than an accommodation-only rate.

In an update posted to its website on 7 November, the platform also says it is clamping down on what it’s calling “unreasonable” host demands - from asking guests to vacuum the property to requiring them to do laundry before leaving.

“Starting in December, we will begin rolling out the option to display total price in countries without existing price display requirements. Total price will include all fees before taxes and be shown in search results, as well as on the map, filter, and listing page,” says the release.

“Before confirming their booking, guests can still view a full price breakdown that shows Airbnb’s service fee, discounts, and taxes.”

“We’re providing guidance to Hosts that if they have checkout requests, they should be reasonable and displayed to guests before they book.”

Airbnb said that, while asking guests to turn the lights off and lock the door were understandably expected, “doing laundry, and vacuuming” were unreasonable.

Guests will be able to clearly view any host requests before booking a rental going forward.

The house sharing site is also adding a “pricing tool” for accommodation hosts to help them “understand competitive pricing”, saying that this will help guests get better-value stays.

It follows Airbnb’s promise in May 2021 to review its fees and pricing system after numerous complaints.

In October, a screenshot from a Facebook group went viral where former Airbnb users revealed why they have stopped using the booking platform, dubbing the exodus as the “Airbnbust”.

Exorbitant service fees, chores requested by hosts and what is perceived as a negative effect on local communities were all reasons given by Airbnb users.

Replies to the screenshot on Twitter slammed the site’s hosts for overcharging and then requesting free labour from guests.

“They also expect you to clean dishes, throw the garbage, do laundry. Should I also cook three-course meal before I leave?” one person tweeted in response.

Another user wrote: “Airbnb checkout instructions are like ‘please feed the neighbour’s cat and administer his heartworm medicine before depositing your key in the mailbox.’”

In May, the platform overhauled its search function, allowing customers to search listings via 56 categories, including design (for iconic architecture and interiors), amazing pools, countryside, amazing views or historical homes.

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