You keep defending Airbnb hosts, but the facts don't support your claims. No mention was made that the place was unlivable and that was the reason for the cancelation.
Airbnb support told both my wife and I that the host was being penalized financially for the last minute cancelation. They also told my wife they would be investigating and "blocking his calendar" was the phrase they used. The host is an experienced host because his reviews date back to 2016.
It's unfortunate that this "bad" host's actions reflect badly on Airbnb and may cause trust issues for good hosts like yourself, but that may be the case.
With regard to "They're not dumb, they know people won't trust the platform if hosts can just cancel on guests whenever they want."
Airbnb is looking pretty stupid to us at the moment. This is exactly what happened to us. I will never use the service again and, once we return from our vacation, I'm going to insure I broadcast our awful experience to others. I wish someone had warned me about the potential for this last minute host cancelation before it happened.
I didn't mean to imply that it's impossible, just that it is very rare because it doesn't make any sense for a host to do it. So it typically only happens without cause if either the host is a complete idiot, or the host is a total #### that just woke up one day and felt like they wanted to cost themselves tens of thousands of dollars so they could screw over someone they've never met for fun, or there was some major life event that happened to them.
Here is the punishment Airbnb gives to hosts that cancel on a guest without a reasonable/provable cause like an issue with the home, etc.
- Host is fined, if the booking is w/in 7 days of check-in then the fine is $1000
- Host loses their superhost status
- The dates that were canceled are blocked and the host is not allowed to re-book them
- Host's listing is de-prioritized in search
- If host does this more than once Airbnb can permanently suspend the host's Airbnb account
So when I said airbnb isn't dumb and they know they can't have this kind of thing happening often, I think that stands because they do as much as they can to prevent it. They don't own the property so they can't legally force the host to host you. The stuff above is pretty much the closest thing they can do to that though, making it so stupid and costly for the host to do that no sane person would ever want to do it. That doesn't mean that there aren't hosts out there insane enough to do it. Maybe this guy is just an a-hole. Maybe he just found out he had cancer. Maybe he died in a skydiving accident and his wife doesn't know how to run the place and just canceled all the bookings. Maybe he's fed up with Airbnb and just decided to quit and is enough of a dbag to not at least host the next few months worth of guests so he doesn't screw them over.
Who knows what the reason is, either way it sucks for you and it's understandable that you're upset. None of it is your fault, you did your due diligence, you just unfortunately got unlucky. Just like Southwest travelers booked the airline with the highest customer service rating and lowest amount of delays only to get stranded in an airport for 5 days.
But this notion that some people have presented (that wasn't you, I know) that hosts just go around canceling on guests so they can re-book at higher rates is extremely unlikely. The host isn't even allowed to re-book the dates. They're completely out that money they were set to make for your booking with no replacement for it.
I agree that Airbnb should have re-booked you (it is in their policy that they will attempt to), and that they should have used the money from the host's fine to cover the difference in cost of your re-booking. I'm not sure why they didn't re-book you. Like I said support has gotten much lousier as their growth has blown up. As I mentioned before I hate the direction Airbnb is going now as a public company, desperate to show growth to investor's. It's made things worse for hosts and guests alike. But that's capitalism. The executives get richer, and the user experience gets worse.