Thank you, Glen and Muddy, for your responses. Always good to have additional questions, thoughts, and information. Makes for a well rounded, educational discussion.
This is from the Airbnb site about verifying a guest and a host. I figured there was some checking Airbnb did, perhaps not as much as they claim in the following, but, in the end, it is probably a situation of “if the credit card clears, the guest is good to go”.
Most people I talk with about their Airbnb’s are under the impression a guest is “vetted”. Probably, most people read the following and remember “keeping our airbnb family safe is one of our top priorities”. “We submit the above information to one of our approved background providers”.
I never was a believer that every guest is checked out, but I did think Airbnb might have caught this guest for several reasons. My instincts were this guest was not what the guest put forth. I should have followed my instincts, and I didn’t.
Keeping our Airbnb family safe is one of our top priorities. If we have at least an accurate first name, last name, and date of birth for a Host or guest, we’ll perform a background check at the following times (only in the USA and India):
Guests: 10 days before the check-in date of their reservation (or later in the case of bookings within 10 days of check-in)
Hosts: When the Host logs in after creating a listing, or when a stay or experience is booked—whichever comes first
How they work and what they entail
- We submit the above information to one of our approved background check providers
- They check the person’s identity against public records or available databases, as outlined below:
For everyone who transacts on Airbnb: We check the OFAC list, which includes terrorist designations.
For those who live in the US: We check certain databases of public state and county criminal records as well as state and national sex offender registries.
For those who live outside the US: 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.
What they mean for you
Find out how the results of a background check can impact your stay or your ability to use Airbnb.
Why you can’t rely on them alone
Background checks aren’t the only factor to consider when deciding whether a guest or Host is suitable—they don’t guarantee that a person won’t break the law in the future.
Why? Because background checks have limitations. Sure, they may help identify past criminal conduct or other red flags where records are available, but not always:
- There may be gaps in public record searches due to the way certain databases are maintained
- Online databases might only be updated periodically by local governments—which Airbnb doesn’t control or direct
As a result, these database checks may not reveal comprehensive or recent criminal record activity. Continue to use your own judgment and follow these sensible safety tips.
Regarding the security deposit situation, I did try to submit a claim for the security deposit. I repeatedly asked the resolution center when and how I should go about doing this. I was repeatedly told it would be handled by the resolution center after the resolution center verified my claim. A huge runaround until the very end, when the claim was settled. Then I got an email explaining that Airbnb no longer handles security deposits and there was no mention of any way to put in another claim for the security deposit. I can’t find that email response right at the moment - there are dozens and dozens of emails to go through in communications with the resolution center. So, I may not be explaining this clearly or correctly, but I did try to put in a claim for the security deposit per Airbnb procedure in the amount that is noted in my listing with no success.
Hosts aren’t allowed to charge guests a security deposit through our Resolution Center or outside the Airbnb platform . Instead, we inform guests at the time of booking that their payment method may be charged if they cause damage during a stay.
If activated for your Airbnb listing a security deposit can help you avoid paying for minor breakages and unforeseen problems out of your own pocket. This means you won’t be forking out for a brand new set of wine glasses if your guests happen to drop a tray full one evening!
and from Airbnb tips:
Your guests will be pleased to discover that, according to Airbnb security deposit policy, they don’t have to pay a security deposit on booking your property. No additional payment is requested following a reservation. Instead, the system will store the guest’s payment information.
If you find your favorite comfy armchair badly damaged or brand-new wine glasses completely broken you have 14 days (following guest check-out) to make a claim relating to compensation or your losses.
Prior to making an Airbnb security deposit claim, you will need to take photos or shoot a brief video recording any damage. You should also record any information that might support your claim – i.e. the value of the damaged items etc.
To file a claim you will need to visit the Airbnb Resolution Center. You will have to send photographs, receipts, invoices and other information confirming the value of your damaged items.
After making a claim, prepare to be patient – the security deposit isn’t collected immediately. First off, your guest is given 72 hours to respond to your complaint. If they accept the amount requested, then you will receive compensation in 5 to 7 days.
But what happens if your guest declines the claim or doesn’t respond? In this case, the process of getting your expenses covered gets a little bit more complicated. You will need to involve Airbnb to intervene and help resolve the dispute.
Airbnb will conduct their own investigation, and decide whether or not you are eligible for financial compensation. If Airbnb makes a resolution in your favor you can simply sit back and wait for the money to arrive in your account.
Glen, I did not try to make a claim for the remainder with Proper Insurance, as part of the agreement with AirCover when you accept their offer of payment is that if you turn a claim into another insurance company for the same claim, Airbnb can ask for their settlement back. Airbnb does not do full replacement value, so my understanding was, if I submitted a claim for the remainder I felt was owed (full replacement value) from what Airbnb determined the value was, I would be filing the same claim twice, with two different insurance companies. I’m probably not right, but after several months of turning in the same things over and over again, answering the same questions over and over again, and dealing with this whole thing on a daily basis that ate up hours of my life, I just didn’t want to risk losing anymore of my sanity, so to speak. It wears you down. Bear in mind, I had no experience with any of this, and I started out filing the claim with the Resolution Center because Airbnb directed me to do this immediately as the first step in trying to get the guest out of my house. Airbnb refused to do anything unless, and until, I began the claim. By then, you are caught up in the daily maelstrom. I would have needed two or three of me to figure out if I would have been better off filing with Proper first, or if I really needed to start the claim with the Resolution Center to get the guest out.
Muddy, I understand your disbelief, but this guest is still on the site a year later, despite everything. I have no idea how. The guest had no reviews before staying with me. Many of my first timers don’t have reviews. The guest joined the site within a few days of booking my home. This is true of some of my guests - especially the ones who are the parents of younger families in my neighborhood who are staying at my place to visit their kids and grandkids.
Yet, towards the end of the long process of submitting all of the “evidence”, I checked the guest profile, surprised to see it was still there, along with a 5 star review from a host that claimed the guest had stayed at their home the entire month - impossible as the guest had booked my home for two weeks of that time. I reported this to the person who was doing the “security concern”. Nothing. The final response was Airbnb had completed their investigation and had addressed the issue. Due to privacy concerns, they could not discuss what the resolution was. A few months later, I checked again, and there was another 5 star review from another host, who claimed the guest had stayed with them during the same time period.
Yes, it is sad and ironic the only way I could get the guest out was by agreeing to refund the unused part of the reservation. Per Airbnb suggestion, BTW, as they said they could not cancel the reservation without the guest agreeing to the cancellation, regardless of what was going on. And the guest had to agree to cancel the reservation for me to have him removed. Muddy, you suggested some ideas about dealing with this type of situation if it ever happens again. I pray that it doesn’t!
I don’t know if having a signed contract about house rules, a real background check, or the ability to have really had a security deposit that I might have gotten would have materially helped me. I am hoping someone who has had a similar experience, but using something like OwnerRez or even their own signed contract they send to a guest before they accept the booking can tell us if that option is a viable one.
Thank you both so much for your thoughts and comments. I always learn something from both of you. Hopefully, someone else can share their experiences with the signed contract for house rules, security deposit, background check, and other ideas that have been presented from others here on the forum.
I’m hoping this looks somewhat like how I wrote it! It shows up here in two different windows two different ways! Wish I was more computer savy!