Guest screening is one of the top concerns of every Airbnber. No vacation rental manager wants to let a bunch of burglars, drug traffickers and murderers stay in their much-loved properties. Nobody wants to find their vacation home in a mess, damaged, broken or have their belongings stolen. But how can hosts avoid these people while they allow complete strangers into their homes? Does Airbnb run background checks of the guests? What kind of background check does Airbnb do, and how much can hosts rely on it?
In its Help Centre, Airbnb claims that they use their guests and hosts’ first and last names and date of birth to run background checks. They use public state and county criminal records databases and state and national sex offender registrations for their investigations. They also check all the users of their platform on the OFAC list for terrorist designations.
When an Airbnb background check finds a user with severe criminal convictions and sex offences like murder, terrorism, rape or child abuse, they suspend a user’s account for further investigations or wholly remove the user from their website.
Airbnb Background Check Limitations
Hosts are responsible for who they allow into their homes, and they need to be assured that their guests behave their short-term rental as they expect. To what extent can Airbnb background check reduce the risk of receiving suspicious cases for hosts?
Airbnb has specified many times that users should not solely rely on Airbnb background checks and warned its users of the limitations and possible errors of their inspections. Some of the significant limitations of Airbnb background check are as follows.
Airbnb background check uses some specific information like name, last name and date of birth and cannot identify guests using false or stolen IDs. So how can it make sure someone is who they say they are and that there are no name similarities?
- Airbnb doesn’t implement a strict guest identity verification system to authenticate the personal information provided by the guests.
- Besides, it only runs background checks on the users and people who reserve a property. The other guests’ backgrounds are not checked.
- Airbnb doesn’t conduct any credit card or bank statements checks.
- Airbnb does background checks of users located in the USA and does limited investigations on the users outside the United States. Even if it runs background checks in a country other than the USA, the extent and validity of it will be different from those searches conducted in the USA because of differences in the limitations in different countries, foreign laws and language.
- Airbnb only checks its users’ background when they first sign up on their platform and doesn’t conduct background checks or monitor its users’ activities routinely. A background check might have been performed long before a host accepts a guest’s booking, and they won’t be notified of a guests’ recent demeanour. Criminal background checks can’t guarantee that a person won’t break the law in the future.
- The databases, which Airbnb uses for screening its users, might not be complete or up-to-date. For example, some databases might not include the recent reports of an individual’s criminal activities or might be missing some information. Moreover, some crimes might be committed outside the country. There is also the possibility that some people might have got away with the law and have not been arrested yet.
Airbnb Background Checks Do Not Promise Safety
No one wants to run into suspicious guests who refuse to leave a rental or throw a party on their property and disturb their neighbours. However, the fact that you have not yet run into suspicious guests yet doesn’t mean that the risk doesn’t exist.
Guest screening and running meticulous background checks can largely decrease the risks of troublemakers showing up at your Airbnb door. However, the fact that a user has a clear background doesn’t guarantee that they are safe guests and won’t commit fraud or damage your property in future.
It is not that easy to identify rule-breaking guests, and Airbnb background checks should never be relied on, as a consistent touchstone. It is on the Airbnb hosts to make their own judgments about whom to accept to their homes.
It is not an easy job to screen each guest carefully especially when you have many back-to-back bookings or receive last-hour reservations. It takes so long to search their names on the internet and social media or read all their reviews.
You as a host may not have access to many state databases or records that OTAs and their third-party partners have.
Moreover, you can run your own background check only when the guests have made a booking and their personal information is shared with you.
Many OTAs, including Airbnb, share as little information as possible with the hosts. They limit host and guest communications to their own websites through a masked-email-address policy and remove contact information. This way they don’t let hosts communicate with their guests directly before booking.
Anyway, Airbnb doesn’t wholly deliver what it has promised. Therefore, it seems that there is no way out for Airbnb hosts and they should do their own guest screening to protect their rental from property damages, fraud, identity theft and criminal activities. But, don’t be disappointed!
Read our blog post All You Need to Know About Tenant Screening to learn more on the solutions to do your own guest vetting before admitting them into your vacation rental. You can also get help from an intelligent guest-screening assistant or hire professional online background check services.