Vrbo is one of the world’s top vacation rental booking channels. Around 15.9 million travellers used the site in 2022, generating $2.7 billion in revenue.
There’s no doubt listing your properties on Vrbo is a great way to maximise bookings!
But does Vrbo run background checks on guests?
The short answer is not to the necessary extent, Vrbo does the bare minimum checks on the majority of guests, which leaves you vulnerable to costly damage or fraud.
This guide will explain what checks Vrbo performs and how thorough vacation rental guest screening can help you rent out your properties without the risk.
Know Your Guest reduces the risks of renting out vacation properties by comprehensively screening all your guests. Speak to us today to find out more!
- Vrbo background checks: What do they cover?
- What does the Vrbo background check process include?
- Does Vrbo have party policy?
- Are there any limitations to Vrbo’s background check process?
- Does Vrbo do sex offender checks on guests?
- How can I verify my guests' ID and background on Vrbo?
- How can I automate the background checks on VRBO?
- Vrbo Screening FAQs
- Speak to us today!
Vrbo background checks: What do they cover?
Listing on major booking channels provides exposure to millions of travellers, increasing your bookings and revenue. But, you may also increase your risk of being scammed or suffering costly property damage.
Just like its competitor, Airbnb, Vrbo doesn’t run thorough background checks on all guests (we have an article explaining the Airbnb screening process if you’re wondering whether Airbnb does background checks on guests.)
Anyone can easily create a Vrbo account and book a property by submitting the following information:
- First and last name
- Email address
- Mobile phone number
- Payment details
- Physical address
- Date of birth
It’s not clear that Vrbo performs any extensive checks on guests beyond verifying their email and payment details.
However, Vrbo does allow hosts to do any additional verification they require, which means you can create a guest screening process to enhance your security and welcome guests you can trust.
What does the Vrbo background check process include?
Vrbo awards a Verification Badge to guests who complete a verification process. Guests with the badge have provided a physical address, date of birth, and other personal information such as their phone number and copy of their ID, and had this information cross-checked by Vrbo.
Although Vrbo recommends all guests complete verification, it is still optional and not a requirement to make a booking.
Does Vrbo have party policy?
Vrbo does have a no-party policy for all listings.
According to Vrbo, a party is defined as a gathering that exceeds the property’s maximum occupancy, involves excessive noise or disruptive behavior, or contravenes local laws and regulations. Small quiet gatherings may be permitted with host’s agreement and compliance with all house rules.
The channel encourages property managers to report any violations. But, just because the channel has the policy in place does not mean all guests will comply.
Screening guests can further reduce your risk of hosting troublesome guests, and prevention is better than dealing with the aftermath of a party.
Are there any limitations to Vrbo’s background check process?
Vrbo does not perform any background checks beyond verifying basic details.
For example, the Vrbo cannot:
- Perform criminal record background checks
- Check if a guest has been placed on the sex offenders register
- View credit history or credit card chargebacks
- Detect fake IDs
Vrbo’s checking process is also limited because it’s optional. Guests can bypass verification and book properties instantly.
When you receive booking requests from non-verified guests with very little profile information and no photo, you don’t have to accept.
However, if you have instant booking turned on, you won’t have much control over who books your property. You may have to cancel bookings (or request that the guest cancel) if you don’t think they will be suitable.
Because of the limitations of Vrbo’s background checks, you must take extra steps to screen guests and verify their identity before they check in.
This is what Benjamin Earley, CEO of HOLT says about using guest screening automation for the OTA:
“Since we implemented our partnership, Know Your Guest has also gotten us back money that guests and AirCover were unwilling to pay. And the same for Expedia and Booking, as they have no coverage options really. So each and every dollar back from Know Your Guest has been beyond what we would have gotten before using their service.”
Does Vrbo do sex offender checks on guests?
Sex offender background checks are becoming increasingly important in the vacation rental industry, especially in the US, so it’s vital to protect yourself and your business by running background checks.
In Arizona, for example, it’s illegal for a property manager or host to accept a booking if the lead guest is on the sex offenders register, and it’s also illegal for someone to make a booking as the lead guest with a registered sex offender as part of their group.
Vrbo runs sex offender background checks on hosts, but unfortunately, not on guests. This means hosts and property managers are responsible for running these checks.
How can I verify my guests’ ID and background on Vrbo?
If you want to take extra steps to protect your business and verify guest identity, here are some things you can do.
- Create house rules and policies — When booking your property, guests must agree to the house rules you provide. If they can’t comply you can cancel the booking or report them to Vrbo after the stay if rules are broken. In your house rules, you can stipulate that, for example, you do not allow parties, extra guests, loud music after 10 pm, smoking on the property, pets, or guests under 25 years.
- Upload a rental agreement — A rental agreement is an optional document you can add to your listing to expand on your house rules and set expectations with guests. You can upload a PDF to your property. If you have multiple properties, Vrbo recommends creating a unique agreement for each property.
- Communicate with guests — Once you’ve received a booking, you can communicate directly with your guests. This is a good chance to find out more about them, explain house rules in more detail and get a better idea of their character to make sure you’re comfortable hosting them.
- Request identification documents — You can ask your guests to send you ID documents such as a copy of their driver’s licence or passport. In some countries, you must submit copies of these to local authorities for all short-term rental stays.
- Look up guests on social media — A simple way to do your own guest checks is to look up their names on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram to confirm they are genuine and appear responsible.
- Run background checks — With some basic personal information, you can run simple background checks using online services.
All these methods can be helpful, and you can find more screening tips in our expert guide to guest screening.
Next, we’ll explain how to automate the screening for all your bookings on Vrbo, so you can achieve peace of mind without the manual work.
How can I automate the background checks on VRBO?
When a guest books your property on any channel, they’ll receive a request from Know Your Guest to provide personal details.
Know Your Guest will then:
- Verify phone number and email address
- Scan linked online profiles
- Check IP address and VPN usage
- Review data breach records
- Search the US sex offenders register for a match
We also reference our internal guest database to see whether the guest has a history of fraudulent bookings or chargebacks.
Once you receive the screening results, you can proceed with the booking or cancel if the results are concerning.
Screening has helped many property managers achieve peace of mind and minimise the risks of hosting.
Take property management company HOLT, for example. After guests staged a huge party in one of their properties, the company signed up for Know Your Guest’s screening solution to reduce the risk of the same thing happening again.
HOLT’s CEO, Benjamin Earley, stated that checking guests’ ID documents serves two purposes. Firstly, it helps prevent bad behaviour. Secondly, it ensures that guests follow the rules during their stay.
Vrbo Screening FAQs
Got more questions about Vrbo’s screening process? We’ll clear up all your doubts in this section.