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Does Airbnb do background checks?

Posted by admin on January 5, 2022 · Hosts,Operators

On average, Airbnb hosts over 2 million guests per night across 6 million listings and this number is increasing as short-term rentals are gaining in popularity.

An increase in guests, however, means that hosts and property managers are facing more and more risk when it comes to their properties, and will need to adapt their operations in order to protect themselves from these risks. 

Every time a booking happens, hosts place their faith in Airbnb, trusting that the platform will adequately screen their guests. 

However, the harsh reality that a lot of hosts have found out the hard way, is that Airbnb’s processes are not as thorough as they would like and they have their limitations.

airbnb employee doing a background check

What background checks does Airbnb do?

By having a look at Airbnb’s Help Centre, Airbnb states that they use the guest/host’s first and last names along with their date of birth to run their background checks, so long as the information is accurate. 

They use public state and county criminal records databases and state + national sex offender registrations for their investigations, but these are limited to the US and India only. 

They also check all the users of their platform on the OFAC list for terrorist designations. 

This means that very little is done when it comes to screening guests who are booking from outside the US, with Airbnb stating: “We may, to the extent permitted by applicable laws and to the extent available, obtain the local version of background or registered sex offender checks.”

When Airbnb’s background check finds that a user has severe criminal convictions, they suspend that user’s account for further investigations or wholly remove them from the platform.

guest criminal background check

Why you can’t and shouldn’t rely solely on Airbnb’s background checks

Hosts and property managers are ultimately responsible for who they allow into their homes, and therefore need assurances that their guests behave appropriately and are exactly who they claim they are.

Airbnb clearly states that their background checks should not be completely relied upon when it comes to accepting guests. 

As they rightly mention, a background check does not ensure that the guest in question won’t commit a crime during their stay and because Airbnb doesn’t continually check its guests, the validity of the background check can be called into question.

Here are the limitations of Airbnb’s background checks as stated by Airbnb:

  • Scope of search – confined to just the US and India.

  • Guests of guests – only the lead guest is checked.

  • User information accuracy – checks only work when people give Airbnb their correct full legal name and date of birth. If the ID is stolen, Airbnb has no way of knowing if the guest provides the details on the stolen ID as their own.

  • Infrequent checks – Airbnb may only conduct the check once and this may be months before their booking with you.

  • Inconsistent reporting – due to variations in local US laws and reporting systems, criminal record information that’s searched and reported in each type of check can vary by state and county.

  • Incomplete search results – the databases they check may be incomplete.

To learn more about how to screen each and every one of your guests thoroughly, take a look at our expert guide to Guest screening.

Airbnb's background checks are limited

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