Background checks on hosts and guests

Dear Fellow Hosts,

I was surprised when I read that airbnb performs background checks on hosts and guests – do you believe it’s actually done?

“The fact is Airbnb had nothing to do with the tragic events in Manchester and we are one of the only hospitality companies that runs background checks on all U.S. residents, both hosts and guests,” Schottenfels said.

Here is a link to Airbnb’s website page where they explain their background check policy.

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@EllenN, thank you for pointing me to the appropriate information!

I see that this essentially happens only in the US.
On starting reading the policy, I wondered whether they do only US because of legal reasons or laziness. Then I came to this:

Lastly, because of differences in foreign laws, language, and the manner in which foreign records are maintained and reported, we may not run background checks on users located outside the United States

Would non-Americans here want this done in their country?

I do not know any other country besides US that has a public or semi-public criminal database, sex offender register or anything else.

So it’s just impossible for the majority of users.

I am starting a AirBnB floor within my home, and am in the background industry. When I signed up as a guest, no background was run and when I applied to be a host, one wasn’t done. They are flatout lying to us all.


You only need an email address. Nothing more. It is shocking.

Hi SaintVanquish,
I’m very interested in your info. Are you in the US? I’m a long time host and recently had a horrible, terrible experience with a guest and Airbnb did not ban them from the site. I did my own background check using instantcheckmate (I’m not affiliated with them at all!!!) and he has a criminal record from 2015 North Carolina that does not appear to be traffic related. I can’t tell what it is exactly.
Airbnb explicitly told me that they did a background check on him. I am flummoxed. I don’t actually believe they are doing them. I have a friend who had another horrific experience with a guest (abusive!) and I ran his name and he also has a criminal record of some kind from California that does not appear traffic related.
Is this lawsuit time?

Yes, they do them but randomly.

Who are you suing?

How do you know they are doing them randomly? Did you used to work for them or currently do? If they do them, they did not do them on the two criminals that I have come across lately.

Suing Airbnb for flagrant negligence. False claims on their safety page that they do background checks on US users. Putting hosts and guests in direct danger. The guest I reported has a record, I told them he committed a drug felony in my house, and they did NOT ban him. He is internally flagged, which employees can see but hosts cannot.

It’s confidential information that I’m not at liberty to share with you.

Please let us know if you find a lawyer willing to take the case.

I’ll definitely keep you updated Dusty! Do you ever do your own checks on people? Does it concern you at all, knowing that checks are only random on the corporate level?
FYI, Criminals are catching on that budget accommodations can be booked and hosts cannot collect any security deposit if they deny it all. I’ve heard it from a few hosts on the west coast so far.

I have instant book with no requirements other than government ID. I’ve hosted close to 500 people over the last 4 years and haven’t had any serious problems. If I hosted anyone with a criminal record I don’t know it and they didn’t try anything here. I also host a simple ensuite room not a house full of things. I’m onsite and I have two 24/7 cameras recording outside and a Ring Doorbell camera mounted by my gate.

I sometimes look for guests on the internet, on facebook or linkedin but I usually don’t have time. I have too many back to back one night guests and many reserve same day like tonight’s guest who just reserved within the last hour.

No. I’ve been surrounded by entire life by people who weren’t background checked. I’ve had people in my home whose backgrounds I didn’t know, from hired help to friends of a friend that they brought to the party.

I suppose they are. Airbnb is just a booking and payment platform. Protecting your property has always been the job of the property owners. It seems that Airbnb has over promised and under delivered however. When many hosts learn how little Airbnb can or will help them they leave the platform.


Why on earth would I do that? I’m renting accommodation to them. I’m not going to marry them! If they are clean and quiet during their time here then I have no interest at all in their background or previous history. I just care about what they are like now.

When I stay somewhere - Airbnb, hotel, private rental, whatever, I don’t need the host’s background and history so why should they need mine? It’s just not relevant to our transaction.

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Jaquo – I understand when you’ve never had any safety issues how you might think that. However, it is very naive and only takes one very bad guest to basically ruin your business or worse. I think the thinking of “since it hasn’t happened yet, it’s not bound to happen to me ever” is not a smart way to think about it. Wait until you have a weirdo who doesn’t leave, only come to find out he has a history of evictions or felony drug offenses.

It is absolutely relevant to my home and who is staying in it. Believe me, I put full faith in the process of peer reviewing and airbnb verified users too for the last few years, but I now have a much different perspective.

All the best.

I don’t think you can sue. You agreed to binding arbitration with their TOS. Do you really have the money to litigate such a suit? It could be tens of thousands before you even get to trial. Airbnb is a big company now. They have teams of lawyers. I would just let it go.

I think they’re overpromising on the background checks, too.

I’d rather they just say “We’re just a booking site and move money from one hand to the other. That’s all we do”.
The host guarantee and background checks/review system give a false sense of security. We may be better positioned if we pretend they don’t exist. In the last year I’ve kept more $ in reserve to cover disasters because I don’t even feel assured I could collect on the deposit, much less the “host guarantee” if something went wrong.

As Dusty said, I interact with a variety of people, very few of them vetted, and have only rarely run into that <5% of terrible humans.

I think if you want a verified ID, you should check it yourself at the door. If you want a background check, you should arrange for a rental contract, as some hosts do, and conduct your own. Just don’t be surprised if many guests decide to book elsewhere.


I don’t agree, I’m afraid. I’ve been in this business for many years and have had my fair share of weirdos. But background checks don’t guard against them. If someone has ‘a history of evictions or felony drug offenses’ why would he/she want to stay at my place?

It’s certainly not naive for one’s peace of mind, stress levels and mental health to assume that people are intrinsically decent until proved otherwise. Living in fear is not healthy.

Cool we’ll agree to disagree on this I think!
I just want to point out that caution and dillegence when hosting strangers does not mean that I live in fear. I have also been a host for many years.

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Just another example that there’s no right and wrong in hosting! We’re all different. :slight_smile: