On average, Airbnb hosts over 2 million guests per night spread across 191 countries and regions, 100,000 cities, and 6 million listings. With so many guests cycling through short-term rentals, hosts are facing increased risks to their properties and operations. The more you rent out your space, the more likely you are to come across ill-intentioned guests.
Everyday, hosts place their faith in Airbnb, trusting that the platform will adequately screen their guests. But in reality, Airbnb has few processes in place to do so.
Risky guests, though sometimes easy to identify, often slip through the cracks. They come in all forms, from the stereotypical criminal with stolen credit cards and traceable records to the high school student booking your property for a prom afterparty. Some of the guests may appear reputable on paper, like the latter, but can still cause issues including property damage, noise complaints, and even theft.
Airbnb Vetting Process:
Airbnb claims to prioritize safety and security for its hosts and guests, but the platform’s vetting process leaves much to be desired.
While Airbnb performs background checks, these checks are limited in scope and accuracy. The company only checks public state databases, county criminal records, and state and national sex offender registries for criminal convictions and sex offender registrations. Airbnb runs guests and hosts’ names against regulatory, terrorist, and sanctions watchlists for guests booking from outside the U.S. But the platform does not provide any guarantees that it will perform background checks on such users, and if it does, the scope and accuracy of coverage may vary. With Airbnb’s vetting process, the onus is on hosts to ensure their guests are safe and reliable.
When it comes to screening, Airbnb, according to its website, only performs background checks on United States-based guests and hosts. These background checks are performed by combing through public state databases and county criminal records, as well as state and national sex offender registries for criminal convictions and sex offender registrations.
Little to no screening measures are put in place for guests booking from outside the U.S. Globally, Airbnb runs guests and hosts’ names against regulatory, terrorist, and sanctions watchlists but says, “We may not run background checks on users located outside the United States, and even if we do, the scope and accuracy of coverage may vary.”
The website goes on to state that the platform is only able to perform background checks on guests and hosts who provide accurate first and last names, plus date of birth—leaving a huge margin for error.
Airbnb Criminal Record:
Airbnb’s criminal record policy has also faced criticism from hosts and guests. The company’s policy states that it will remove a user from the platform if they have been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors, such as sexual assault or terrorism-related offenses. However, hosts and guests have reported instances where they were uncomfortable with a user’s criminal record but were unable to get Airbnb to take action.
Overall, Airbnb’s policies and procedures for vetting guests are insufficient and leave hosts vulnerable to a range of risks. The hosts or property managers should take precautions to protect themselves, such as thoroughly screening each guest and using tools like Autohost to detect potential risks.
The kind of rigorous background checks short-term rental companies like Airbnb should be performing involve different types of information searches, including verifying a guest’s identity, their credit card information, and even credit scores, bank statements, and criminal record checks.
Does airbnb do credit checks?
Airbnb’s background checks do little to protect hosts from fraud. While the platform uses predictive analytics and machine learning to flag suspicious activity, it has few processes in place to confirm whether the personal information provided by a guest is accurate. Identity fraud is a massive problem in the short-term rental industry, but guests using a stolen ID won’t be flagged by Airbnb’s system. The platform also only performs its version of a background check on the person who books the property. Extra guests are not screened.
Airbnb does require guests to provide payment information, such as a credit card or PayPal account, to complete a booking. However, this payment information is used solely for payment processing and is not used to check the guest’s credit history or financial background.
This can be concerning for hosts who want to ensure that their guests have the financial means to pay for their stay and will not cause issues with payment processing. While a credit check may not be feasible for short-term rentals, hosts can take other steps to verify a guest’s financial background. For example, hosts can require a security deposit or ask guests to provide proof of income or employment. These measures can help hosts feel more secure about their guests’ ability to pay for their stay and reduce the risk of payment issues down the line.
Limitations of Airbnb background checks:
Here’s what Airbnb has to say about its background checks:
Because our background checks are limited, we can’t guarantee that they’ll identify all past criminal convictions or sex offender registrations by a guest or Host. Therefore, you shouldn’t rely on them as a guarantee that the user has no criminal background or other red flags.
But Airbnb’s background checks do little to protect hosts from fraud. While the platform uses predictive analytics and machine learning to flag suspicious activity, it has few processes in place to confirm whether the personal information provided by a guest is accurate. Identity fraud is a massive problem in the short-term rental industry, but guests using a stolen ID won’t be flagged by Airbnb’s system. The platform also only performs its version of a background check on the person who books the property. Extra guests are not screened.
Additionally, these background checks are typically performed once when the guest first signs up for Airbnb. This means that the company doesn’t continually monitor each guest’s activity. If a guest is criminally charged after signing up, hosts won’t be notified.
While a robust background check would protect you against ill-intentioned guests, the process isn’t realistic. It’s expensive and time consuming to look into every guest’s credit score, employment history, and bank statements—not to mention it requires consent from the guest. The fast-paced nature of the short-term rental industry won’t allow it, and even if it did, how do you flag for potential parties and property damage?
To learn how to thoroughly screen each guest and protect yourself against these risks, check out our Ultimate Guide to Guest Screening blog.
Or try Autohost
Guest screening is a lot of work, and when done manually, bad guests can sneak through the cracks. Instead of taking the risk, try Autohost, an intelligent guest-screening assistant for vacation and short-term rental operators. It’s the only surefire way to thoroughly screen your guests.
Autohost scans all reservations, using hundreds of tests and data points to collect and validate guests’ IDs, determining their level of risk. Based on the flagged risks, the software provides users with a list of action items to handle potential issues proactively. Autohost ensures property managers handle all bookings responsibly, keeping their business safe, their revenues rising, and their guests happy.