Airbnb has defended its bid to top up its host and landlords’ finances with personalised kindness cards and a cash bonus so guests can say thank you.

The lettings platform has been widely attacked for asking customers if they would like to donate money to landlords and hosts who have lost income due to coronavirus.

Visitors now receive an email which explains how to reward those who have provided excellent service, stating: “To show appreciation or encouragement, eligible guests can send personalized kindness cards to hosts they’ve given four or five-star ratings, with the option to add a financial contribution.

“Airbnb will charge no fee, and 100% of your contribution goes directly to the host.”

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However, on its community page, it adds that after feedback from some hosts who were concerned about the financial contribution element, it has updated the programme so they can opt-out of future contributions or donate unwanted cash gifts to charity. 

Twitter users have asked why they should contribute towards someone’s second mortgage, with one accusing Airbnb landlords of “jacking up prices for the already struggling locals looking for housing options”.

An Airbnb spokesman says: “We’ve heard from many guests that want to support hosts during this difficult time.

“There is also the option for a voluntary financial contribution, with no charges from Airbnb, that goes directly to the hosts, more than half of whom say they rely on the additional income from hosting to afford their home.”

In March the company announced a $17 million ‘superhost’ relief fund to provide grants to those facing financial challenges because of travel disruption along with a £250m fund to support all hosts with the cost of cancellations.

Read more about Airbnb.

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