Airbnb (NASDAQ: ABNB) has come under fire recently for what travelers say are exorbitant fees. The uproar started with a simple tweet -- a screenshot of a $99 Airbnb listing that totaled over $413 for just a two-night's stay.
It's not just one guest's experience, though. According to data from AirDNA, overall cleaning fees on short-term rentals are up nearly 6% in the last two years. On one-bedroom properties, they've risen 7.7%.
Now, Airbnb's higher-ups are pledging to look into the issue. What could it mean for guests and hosts invested in short-term rentals alike? Let's dive in.
The state of short-term rental fees
On Airbnb, guests pay both a cleaning fee and a guest service fee, both of which range widely based on the size of the home, location, host, and more.
Currently, the average cleaning fee for a one-bedroom short-term rental ranges anywhere from $48 to a whopping $112 per night. One larger coastal properties, it averages as high as $381 for every night of the stay.
Here's a quick look at the averages for each property size:
- One-bedroom: $82.90
- Two-bedroom: $124.50
- Three-bedroom: $166.20
- Four-bedroom: $211.80
- Five bedrooms or more: $277.60
Guest service fees, on the other hand, sit at 14.2% of the booking's subtotal or less, according to Airbnb. There are also occupancy taxes that can come into play, though these are set by the local government where the property is located.
What hosts need to know
Airbnb gives hosts a lot of leeway when it comes to their fees. And while cleaning fees have been on the rise lately, the jump's not unfounded.
Last year, Airbnb instituted new, stricter cleaning protocols in light of the pandemic, and this has likely increased hosts' cleaning costs considerably since then.
"Many hosts were already going above and beyond on cleaning, but for others, this process may have meant increased time and investment into their cleaning protocols," Airbnb says. "We are grateful for the extraordinary steps the vast majority of Airbnb Hosts take to prioritize the health and safety of their listings. 94% of all Airbnb reviews show that guests are satisfied with cleaning, scoring it a 4 or 5 stars."
Still, Airbnb encourages its hosts to keep cleaning fees in check -- or even consider not charging them at all. (In fact, 45% of all listings do not charge a cleaning fee).
At any rate, the company says it will review its fee structure "with the objective of making pricing even more transparent and easy for Hosts and guests to navigate. This process will include consultation with members of our community, including our Host Advisory Board."
The results of that review -- and the recommendations that come from it -- won't be out until mid-December 2021, so hosts have some time. It will probably be well into 2022 before any real changes are implemented.
In the meantime
Though Airbnb isn't changing its fee policy immediately, the recent uproar should give hosts pause. If you own short-term rentals, take a step back and look at your fees from a guest's perspective. Could they be turning guests away? Could you work the cleaning costs into your nightly rate instead?
Many people use Airbnbs and other short-term rentals as a more affordable alternative to hotels, so take some time to compare your pricing to other local accommodations to make sure you're still on track. You might even consider cleaning your properties yourself (if you live in the area at least).