By The Hospitable Team
Buying a beach house in one of the most attractive beachfront destinations like Florida, South Carolina, or Texas can be a good strategy for a short-term rental investment. But, unfortunately, there’s always a risk of hurricanes that are known to hit these areas from June to November.
Hurricane season can be a very hectic time for Airbnb hosts and property managers, so it’s in your best interest to be prepared for potential natural disasters ahead of time.
In this blog post, we’ll look at the Airbnb hurricane policy and provide some tips to help you prepare your vacation rental property for hurricane season.
Airbnb Hurricane Policy
Anyone who lives in hurricane-prone areas knows that hurricane season can be a scary time, and there’s a danger to both people and their properties. So, when it comes to vacation rental bookings, if a hurricane is developing in your area, cancellations are to be expected.
Should you cancel your Airbnb bookings? Should you refund your guests if they decide to cancel their stay? Is there a particular Airbnb hurricane policy that may apply to these circumstances? Let’s find out.
Airbnb has an Extenuating Circumstances Policy that explains how cancellations are handled when unforeseen events beyond your control arise after booking. Such events make it impracticable or illegal to complete your reservation. The Extenuating Circumstances Policy takes precedence over Airbnb’s standard cancellation policies.
Guests impacted by the events covered by this policy can cancel their reservation and receive a cash refund or travel credit. As to hosts, they can also cancel bookings without adverse consequences. But, depending on the circumstances, your calendar may be blocked for the dates of the canceled reservation.
Airbnb has set clear terms to ensure the refund process can go smoothly and be as easy as possible for you as a host, saving you time and effort. But you can also go one step further and streamline all your operations using all-in-one vacation rental management software like Hospitable.
Then, you’ll be able to manage your Airbnb rental, giving your guests a great stay without having to visit your property in person. For example, Jason Wolohan and his wife Rachel take advantage of Hospitable to successfully run their STR property entirely remotely.
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The Extenuating Circumstances Policy covers such unforeseen events as
- Unexpected changes to government travel requirements that prevent travel to the destination
- Declared local or national health emergencies and epidemics
- Government travel restrictions that prevent or prohibit traveling to, staying at, or returning from the Airbnb listing location
- Military actions and other hostilities—acts of war, hostilities, invasions, civil war, terrorism, explosions, bombings, rebellions, riots, insurrection, civil disorder, and civil unrest
- Natural disasters, acts of God, large-scale outages of essential utilities, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and other severe and abnormal weather events.
Airbnb guests are expected to research their destination before booking and take into account tropical storms, also known as hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons, when making their travel plans. If guests cancel their stay because of a hurricane, Airbnb doesn’t automatically refund the booking. Instead, each host should personally decide whether or not to issue full refunds according to the cancellation policy they have chosen for their listing.
Still, the safety of your guests should always be your number one priority. If a hurricane disrupts your guests’ stay, you could offer them at least a partial refund or allow them to reschedule their stay for a later date. You may want to check out our blog article to learn more about Airbnb refunds and how to handle them to get a positive outcome for your STR business and reputation.
If you have bookings as a hurricane is about to hit, you should message your guests to learn about their travel plans, explain the situation in your local area, and discuss cancellations. Ensure your guests can reach you during these times, and do your best to respond to their messages as fast as possible. Using vacation rental software like Hospitable to automate guest communication will be easier.
Have conversations with your guests even when you sleep.
How to Prepare Your Airbnb Rental for Hurricane Season
Owning an Airbnb in a hurricane-prone area, you are responsible for doing everything you can to keep your guests safe. That includes ensuring your vacation rental property is as safe and secure as possible when the next hurricane hits.
Airbnb guests also have high expectations about customer service, so it’s important to fully equip your home with the necessary items and amenities to meet the needs of your guests. A good idea is to create a comprehensive rental inventory checklist and rely on it to ensure nothing can be overlooked.
Here are some basic things that need to be done when preparing your vacation rental for the hurricane season. They can help keep your guests and property safe when a hurricane strikes.
Prepare your vacation rental for wind, rain, and flooding. Ensure the roof is in good shape, and install impact-resistant windows, doors, and hurricane shutters. Consider trimming potentially dangerous trees that could fall on or damage the house and secure plywood in front of doors and windows. De-clutter drains and gutters.
Prepare for water and power outages. Invest in a small generator to ensure your guests aren’t stranded in complete darkness during power cuts. Stock up on bottled water and fill empty containers with fresh, clean water—your guests can use it for bathing, cleaning, and cooking.
Create an emergency home kit. Buy non-perishable food items, such as granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, canned meats, veggies, etc. Include a first aid kit capable of treating basic injuries. It’s also helpful to have flashlights, candles, matches, batteries, a battery-powered radio, charges for devices, medicine, water-purifying tablets, and other essential survival items.
Establish a stable Wi-Fi connection to help guests stay in sync with the outside world. This way, you can ensure that your guests get prior storm alerts from the authorities to plan their next steps.
Provide your guests with the necessary information and instructions on what to do during a hurricane. This should include your phone number, a number to call for property maintenance issues, a list of emergency supplies, police and fire department numbers and info, and locations of hurricane shelters.
According to Airbnb policy, hurricanes are considered predictable and foreseeable events that guests should consider when planning their travel. So they won’t get a refund automatically if they have to cancel their stay due to a hurricane. It’s up to you to decide whether to refund your guests, depending on your cancellation policy.
As a STR host, it’s essential to be prepared for natural disasters, including hurricanes, and take proactive steps to protect your property and guests. During hurricane season, you should closely monitor weather forecasts and communicate with your guests to inform them about any potential risks or evacuation orders.
You may also want to check out our blog article about Airbnb rules for hosts and guests to better understand what is expected of you as a member of the Airbnb community.
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