By The Hospitable Team
With more than 5.6 million active listings worldwide, Airbnb is a popular choice for tourists and offers people an easy way to earn extra income from their vacation rental property. But opening your home to strangers comes with risks to your property and operations, so guest screening is one of the top concerns for every Airbnb host.
Screening vacation rental guests isn’t just about preventing serious criminal activity or fraud. It’s also about preventing damage to your property, liability issues, and neighbor complaints and identifying problematic guests who may violate your house rules.
So does Airbnb do background checks on guests? Is there any vetting process, and can you rely on it to minimize potential Airbnb problems? Let’s find out.
Does Airbnb Do Background Checks on Guests?
Yes, according to the information available in its Help Center, Airbnb performs background checks if they have at least a real first name, last name, and date of birth for a host or guest. But these background checks are limited only to the US and India.
Airbnb runs background checks on guests ten days before their check-in date or later in the case of bookings within ten days of check-in. Airbnb also does background checks on hosts when the host logs in after creating a listing or when someone books a stay at the property—whichever comes first.
Airbnb submits the information about their users to one of their approved third-party background check providers, and they check the person’s identity against public records or available databases.
Airbnb also has a review system that helps build trust in the community and offers AirCover for Hosts, including $3 million in damage protection and $1 million in liability insurance. They also use proprietary technology to analyze different factors in each reservation and block bookings that show a high risk for disruptive parties and property damage.
That means that you, as a host, may have a certain peace of mind when accepting bookings on this OTA platform and can focus on providing a great experience to your guests. That’s a lot of work, but automating routine operations using vacation rental software like Hospitable.com can make things easier.
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So what do Airbnb background checks entail? Airbnb states that they check all users who make transactions on the platform on the OFAC list, which includes terrorist designations. For those users who live in the US, Airbnb checks certain databases of public state and county criminal records and state and national sex offender registries.
If the guest’s criminal record shows an offense that isn’t against Airbnb policies, the booking will be held with a Pending status while they confirm additional information. After that, the guest will be informed if they can book.
And when the Airbnb background check finds that a user has severe criminal convictions, their account will be suspended for further investigations or can be completely removed from the platform. Such cases as murder, terrorism, rape, or child sexual abuse may result in permanent removal.
Airbnb Background Checks: Can You Rely on Them Alone?
Background checks performed by Airbnb may only help identify past criminal conduct or other red flags where records are available. But unfortunately, they don’t guarantee that a potential guest won’t break the law in the future during their stay. Airbnb admits that their checks have limitations, so you can’t completely rely on them when accepting guests. Here is why.
- Airbnb performs background checks only in the US and India and only when they have at least the first and last names plus dates of birth of a user.
- They also don’t conduct background checks on other people who stay with the guest who booked accommodation.
- The checks only work when people provide their full, correct legal names and dates of birth. And what if a guest uses a stolen ID?
- Airbnb only conducts a background check once per user, and it is months before they book your listing.
- There are variations in local US laws and reporting systems, so criminal record information searched and reported in each type of background check can vary by state and county.
- Airbnb does only limited investigations on users outside the United States. The scope and accuracy of coverage may vary because of differences in foreign laws and the way foreign records are maintained.
- The databases that Airbnb uses for screening its users might not be complete or up-to-date, and some information might be missing.
Is There an Alternative to Airbnb Background Checks?
As you see, the Airbnb system of background checks is not perfect, so you need to take additional steps to screen your guests to avoid the problem. For example, you can search their names on the internet and social media, read their reviews by other hosts, and require a profile photo to book your listings.
Always use your judgment about whom to let into your home—disable the “Instant Book” feature and communicate with a guest using messages to evaluate them before you accept their booking. If you use tools like Hospitable.com, exchanging messages with each potential guest to get to know them better won’t be time-consuming.
With Hospitable, you can also build your direct booking website using professional, easy-to-customize templates. This way, you’ll be able to save on OTA fees, develop better relationships with guests, and drive repeat direct bookings to increase your revenue.
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Screening short-term rental guests who book through a direct booking website is essential for vacation rental hosts. Problematic guests may deliberately target short-term rentals that accept direct bookings to sidestep even the basic checks conducted by sites like Airbnb.
Guest screening can be a lot of manual work. But it’s no problem if you create your direct booking website using Hospitable, which integrates with Autohost. It’s a reliable and robust guest screening tool that uses AI to help hosts and property managers perform background checks and avoid fraud. All data remains encrypted and safe, so there is no risk of violating data protection laws.
When a guest books via a Hospitable.com Direct booking website, Autohost automatically scans the reservation to determine initial risk factors. Then the guest receives a message thanking them for booking and a link to complete their reservation on a branded page. Autohost analyzes the guest information, and after verification, the guest receives their check-in instructions automatically.
Conducting a background check on your potential guests is a crucial step to ensure the safety of your property and the success of your vacation rental business. Although Airbnb runs background checks on guests, the process is far from perfect, and limitations leave much room for uncertainty. That’s why you should always take extra steps to vet your guests that book on OTAs properly. And if you accept direct bookings, you must incorporate guest screening into your direct booking strategy.
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