Let’s Talk About Airbnb Cleaning Fees

Breathe Malibu – Ocean Front Condo with Beach Access by Open Air Homes 633213eead43980034be3f57

With pushback against cleaning fees on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, many wonder–what’s fair & what isn’t?

What Are Cleaning Fees?

Cleaning fees are found on short-term rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO. They’re one-off charges set by hosts to cover the costs of things such as general cleaning, maintenance, and the vendor fees that come along with them. Until recently, they were considered hidden by many, as they weren’t shown on home listings and appeared late in search. This has caused a significant debate in the travel and hospitality sectors surrounding honesty and transparency in vacation rentals. 

Why Does Airbnb Charge Cleaning Fees?

The debate surrounding cleaning fees on short-term rental platforms like Airbnb has been a contentious one. Some argue that the fees are necessary to offset the cost of professionally maintaining a property. However, many others believe the fees are unfair at best and deceptive at worst – and that homes’ overall rates should include them.

“Cleaning fees vary widely. An Airbnb spokesperson told NerdWallet that cleaning fees are on average less than 10% of the total reservation cost at properties that charge them. Meanwhile, NerdWallet’s analysis found that cleaning fees amounted to about 25% of the total price paid. In fact, almost 40% of listings had cleaning fees from 20% to 29.9% of list price.”

Oregon Live

It’s no secret that guests hate cleaning fees, and many hosts hate charging them. So, why do they still do it? Below, we explore the advantages and disadvantages of Airbnb cleaning fees.

Arguments for Airbnb Cleaning Fees

They Can Cover the Costs of Maintaining a Short-Term Property

One of the main arguments for charging cleaning fees on Airbnb is that they cover the cost of cleaning and maintaining the property. Cleaning a rental property can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive task, and many hosts want compensation for the time and effort they put into cleaning the space. Additionally, cleaning fees can help to cover the cost of cleaning supplies and other materials, as well as the cost of hiring professional cleaning services if necessary.

They May Help Provide a Better Guest Experience

Another argument in favor of charging cleaning fees on Airbnb is that they provide hosts with a financial incentive to keep the property clean and well-maintained. Without cleaning fees, some hosts may be less inclined to put in the effort to clean and maintain the property, which could lead to a decline in the quality of the space. By charging cleaning fees, hosts have a financial incentive to make sure the property is clean and well-maintained, which can help to ensure that guests have a positive experience.

Desert Owl Ranch by Open Air Homes is a vacation rental in Yucca Valley, California.
Regular cleaning and maintenance are necessary to successfully operate a short-term rental.
Image: Desert Owl Ranch by Open Air Homes

Arguments Against Airbnb Cleaning Fees

They May Make Guests Feel ‘Nickel-and-Dimed’ and Should be the Cost of Doing Business

Many people argue that charging cleaning fees on Airbnb is unfair and should be included in the overall rate, similarly to hotels. They may feel that cleaning is an essential aspect of the rental process and an implied cost of choosing to operate in the hospitality industry. Some complaints feel that guests shouldn’t pay an additional fee for something that should’ve been included in the rate in the first place. 

They Could be Considered Deceptive 

Since cleaning fees aren’t included in initial rates, the sticker shock of the add-on can feel dishonest to some travelers. Additionally, some travelers believe cleaning fees are a way for hosts to increase their profits and that the fees don’t go to supplies and vendor payments. 

They Benefit Longer Stays and Could be Unfair to Guests who Only Book for a Few Days

Regular cleanings and upkeep, like watering plants or cleaning pools, are necessary both for guests and hosts of vacation rentals. In fact, it’s crucial to ensuring 5-star reviews and a great guest experience. However, for travelers looking for a quick weekend getaway, charging a flat rate may feel unfair. Mid-term and Month+ stays call for regular upkeep to reduce wear and tear on an investment property; but the cleaning process after a 2-day stay versus a 2-month stay is arguably very different. Many short-term guests believe the cleaning fee should be nominal in comparison to that of a longer-term stay.

Airbnb CEO tweeted that he is prioritizing the restructuring of Airbnb pricing and cleaning fees.
Image: Thrifty Traveler

It’s no secret that Airbnb has heard the pushback, read the emails, and seen the memes surrounding cleaning fees. 

On October 9th, Airbnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky vowed to tackle the controversy surrounding cleaning fees and disclosed that he is working on overhauling their pricing system. 

Airbnb’s Plan for Cleaning Fee Transparency 

Starting in December 2022, Airbnb reconfigured its platform to display cleaning and service fees earlier in search. While the fees were previously invisible up until the booking page, they’re now clearly shown underneath the nightly rate. 
An Airbnb’s new price breakdown, via Airbnb.com

Starting in December 2022, Airbnb reconfigured its platform to display cleaning and service fees earlier in search. While the fees were previously invisible up until the booking page, they’re now clearly shown underneath the nightly rate. 

Although it seems that cleaning fees are here to stay, the booking platform has taken a significant step towards transparency. 

“One of the things that we’ve been hearing from guests, and we heard it loud and clear, is that people would like a little more transparency about what they’re actually paying when they first get to Airbnb,” Chesky said. “We are working on redesigning how pricing works on Airbnb, so people better understand the total price they’re going to pay the moment they arrive at Airbnb, and it’s not a surprise to them.”

ThePointsGuy

As a luxury rental operator, we at Open Air Homes understand the necessity of cleaning fees. Maintaining your investment is paramount and contributes to a happy stay and five-star reviews. We also support the call for transparency and Airbnb’s decision to take action and emphasis on honesty. Being up-front and honest makes for happier guests and happier hosts. 

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