Airbnb extends ban on non-essential UK bookings

UK: Last month Airbnb disabled its instant book function for UK properties, and has since extended its ban on bookings until May 17 2020.

The move from Airbnb came as hosts continued to advertise properties despite the nationwide lockdown.

The government laws stated that holiday homes should only be offered to key workers such as NHS professionals, though a number of properties were still being advertised as “idyllic cottages”, “houseboats” or “castle” retreats.

Airbnb’s frontline responders programme, allowing hosts to offer properties for free or at a discounted rate to COVID-19 medical workers, was put in place until at least May 9 2020. It has now been extended until May 17 in the UK.

The scheme previously started in Italy and France, before expanding into the US and the UK. It has since been introduced into the Central and South American markets.

Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky pledged to pay out up to $250 million in cancellations to hosts and has set up a $10 million Super Host relief fund.

Hosts with cancellations between March 14 and May 31 2020 will have 25 per cent of what they would normally get back from their existing cancellation policy. 

Many hosts however have complained that they have been unable to access the relief fund.