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What are my rights for cancelling Air BnB?

Waterlooville...
7 posts
1 review
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What are my rights for cancelling Air BnB?

Hi everyone,

My partner and I booked an Air BnB a few months ago for our time in NYC. However recently I found out that short term lets are illegal in the city. We are travelling in July and we have booked the whole apartment. I believe the host lives locally. After booking, the host told us not to alarm the other residents of the building that we booked through Air BnB. The host has a strict cancellation fee and so we would lose 50% of our money if we cancelled. I wondered if we would be entitled to extenuating circumstances as the host is acting illegally? I don't want to cause bad feelings with the host in case he cancels our booking but keeps our money, is this possible? I feel so stupid for booking without properly checking the legality so I'd really like to get myself out of this sticky situation if anyone can help! Contacting Air BnB themselves seems to be near on impossible :(

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30 replies to this topic
Vancouver, Canada
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16,161 posts
75 reviews
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1. Re: What are my rights for cancelling Air BnB?

The ease for getting your money back will depend on how you booked it. Did you do it through AirBnB? Then you can course your complain through them as being illegal in NYC, as well as their contractual guarantees. If you used a credit card you can dispute with your bank. Otherwise, your chances are slim.

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Houston, Texas
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4,733 posts
19 reviews
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2. Re: What are my rights for cancelling Air BnB?

I would think if you tell the host you're reporting them to the city, your refund chances might increase.

Guadalajara, Mexico
Destination Expert
for San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas
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4,241 posts
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3. Re: What are my rights for cancelling Air BnB?

I just posted on your NY State entry this: WEQ its all very clearly spelled out:

You start to deal with this thru understanding your airbnb booking by reading their terms. Realistically airbnb, VRBO, Flipkey apt rental listing sites are dealing with millions of listings worldwide and simply cannot regulate each listing in municipality, especially as the legal issues change per city each month. These are not real estate agents, they are listing sites. - on their first page now airbnb states T&C including that this is all your responsibility. If you enter thru a quicker portal it is clear before you make the booking their Terms and Conditions state they have no responsibility for your decision to deal with illegal hosts - it is your responsibility worldwide to check the laws where you go and act accordingly.

From airbnb site - you first reach this page:

Terms of Service Update

We’ve updated our: (1) Terms of Service, (2) Payments Terms of Service, and (3) Privacy Policy (collectively, “Terms”). Please read them carefully. You can also learn more about what’s changing.

You must agree to the updated Terms in order to continue using Airbnb.

Then you get to this page: https://www.airbnb.com/terms

It states clearly in legalese their limited responsibilities. Your contract is with the host

Of course this is boring and dense reading. Its not much different in effect from buying thru e-bay, amazon, craigslist or any other web commerce site - you understand the contract before buying.

It would be helpful to post the scam/illegal host site here for others who somehow preserve the fantasy that anything they buy on the internet - or the street in many cases - is legal.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for New York City
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103,282 posts
12 reviews
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4. Re: What are my rights for cancelling Air BnB?

It's my understanding that the host doesn't,t have the money yet. It gets held by Airbnb until a day after you arrive. I would start by contacting the host and nicely saying you've recently discovered that Airbnb is not legal in NYC and you'd like to cancel the booking. You would like them to instruct Airbnb to refund your deposit. If they refuse, your next decision is whether to report them to the authorities.

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DC
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2,354 posts
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5. Re: What are my rights for cancelling Air BnB?

Your better reporting option is to report them to the building. The building will take action well before the city.

New York City, New...
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for New York City
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6. Re: What are my rights for cancelling Air BnB?

Good point. May not be so easy to determine how to contact the building.

7. Re: What are my rights for cancelling Air BnB?

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Dallas, Texas...
Destination Expert
for New York City
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24,830 posts
25 reviews
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8. Re: What are my rights for cancelling Air BnB?

I used AirBnB last year for a completely different location in the mountains of NC. There was an issue and I found it easy to contact them. They responded, followed-up, worked out the issue. It wasn't perfect customer service, but it wasn't "near impossible". I'd be persistent with trying that route. Emphasize that the host told you to be secretive as proof that it not a legit and permitted rental.

Melbourne, Australia
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9. Re: What are my rights for cancelling Air BnB?

My suggestion would be to contact the host and explain that you are uncomfortable staying in the apartment where the rental is obviously in breach of local laws. Ask them if they would cancel your booking. That way your money will be automatically refunded.

Waterlooville...
7 posts
1 review
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10. Re: What are my rights for cancelling Air BnB?

Host has said we can get a full refund but has refused to cancel it from his end. He says it goes on his record?

Trouble is if we cancel it ourselves we then lose 50%. Bit confused as to what to do so we've submitted a request via Airbnb for him to cancel the reservation. Thanks for everyone's help so far.

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