Being released from prison offers a chance to start over. Upon regaining freedom many feel the urge to travel. Some wonder, can a felon travel to Europe, or even just cross the border to Mexico?
In most cases, those that complete their sentences can travel globally. As long as the foreign country grants them entry. But once they arrive, the next issue should be one of accommodation.
A tourist can choose from many hotels and motels. But Airbnb has become popular. For those with criminal records, a key query is does Airbnb run background checks?
Criminal history and credit check will likely matter most. Most hosts and guests would rather work with someone without a criminal background. They will also want to have financial dealings with someone fiscally responsible.
Let’s consider how Airbnb works and what kind of checks to expect.
How Airbnb Works?
Airbnb is an online platform that connects travelers with hosts offering lodgings. Just like with hotels, you can go online to check out different housing.
It can range from just a spare room in someone’s house to an entire palatial mansion. Naturally, the price will be comparable to the type of housing. Airbnb can be as cost-saving or extravagant as you can afford.
Many travelers like it as it gives them more interesting options. They can stay in any neighborhood they want. They get to live like locals in the area.
For the hosts, it can be a good way to make extra money from property investments. They can often get more revenue from these short-term rentals. This is compared to long-term leases.
When booking, Airbnb earns a commission for their facilitation. The platform allows users to leave a review on their stay. These reviews can help boost good hosts, guaranteeing them more bookings.
It can however be risky to allow strangers onto your property. Hence the concern by many on background checks.
When you consider what shows up on a background check, you realize why it matters. The criminal and credit history of a person is especially vital.
They give hosts a better picture of the quality of guests they are expecting. On the other hand, these checks on hosts can better guarantee honest hospitality services to guests.
Let’s begin by considering the hosts.
Does Airbnb Run Background Checks On Hosts?
Yes. Airbnb does run background checks on U.S. hosts that have submitted government-issued IDs. They run details against:
1 County, state, and federal criminal databases
2 State and national sex offender registries
3 OFAC lists for international drug traffickers and terror suspects
They do the same for hosts in other countries, where the local laws allow.
The reality is that Airbnb is not very strict on the issue of background checks. They acknowledge that some users do not provide accurate or full info. This makes it difficult to run checks but does not seem to prevent them from running their accounts.
Airbnb also indicates that these checks may not delve deep enough into existing records. More so if the relevant courthouses do not update their records in good time.
It should also be noted that these checks are often done just once. At the time a user registers their account. If they later commit a crime, it will not be known to the platform.
This means that guests will need to consider other avenues to gauge the quality of their hosts.
So what about the guests?
Does Airbnb Run Background Checks On Guests?
Airbnb is accessible in many countries around the world. But when it comes to background checks on guests, they may only do so in the US. Even then it does not apply to everyone.
To perform a check, they require certain basic details. These include:
- A person’s first and last name
- Their date of birth
They can then use these details to run a check against the county, state, and federal criminal databases. A review against sex offender registries and terror watch lists is also done. This is done through approved vendors.
The challenge however is that people may not use their real names or dates of birth online. Without correct info and government-issued ID, these checks do not work.
For guests coming in from foreign countries, an attempt may be made to run a check. Airbnb attempts to check local registries through available vendors. But laws on such reporting can vary and limit this search.
Offenses that can cause a guest account to be removed include:
- Sexual violence
- Human trafficking
- Hate crimes
Other serious crimes can result in removal if they are recent convictions. Lesser non-violent crimes like drug possession rarely result in removal.
Those related to theft and property damage can result in exclusion for up to 14 years. This is from the date of conviction.
Those notified of removal may be able to appeal. A link is provided in the notification email. Airbnb undertakes a rigorous review to determine who can be reinstated.
Some factors that are considered during such appeals include:
1 The person’s age at the time of the crime
2 How long ago the conviction happened
3 Number of prior convictions
4 Rental history since
5 Work history
How to Avoid Getting Scammed?
Both hosts and guests can leave reviews on each other. This is a good way to discover the kind of person you will be dealing with.
If wary, go for hosts or guests with multiple reviews. These are hard to fake and will give a clearer picture of the person. Only when you are confident of the person should you confirm the booking or make a reservation.
You can also run a rudimentary background check on your own. Some public criminal databases are freely accessible. You can also use social media to learn more about a person.
If you can afford it, there are also many online background checking service providers. They can be affordable and quick.
Check that their ID has been verified. You can also make arrangements via the platform anonymously. This way you can ask about any additional accommodations you may need. If they can accommodate your needs, do verify if included in the cost quoted or not.
Avoid making any offsite payments. Use Airbnb’s secure payment platform. stick to their online messaging service so there is a record of your communications. This will also reduce the need to share personal info like your phone number and address.
If you have a bad experience with a host or guest, leave the appropriate feedback. Escalate if the situation worsens. Like if they start harassing you or become abusive. This is important not just for you, but also for future guests and hosts.
Also, be safe when online. Be on the lookout for phishing emails that look like they are from Airbnb. Especially if they start asking for passwords and other info that is not normally requested. Good internet security software should aid in this.
Having a felony record does not automatically prevent you from enjoying Airbnb services. Especially if the offenses were relatively minor.
If your crimes were serious, you may need to set up your account earlier. This will give enough time for vetting. If removed, you can then make an appeal based on mitigating factors.
Much older offenses may not even be revealed. Since Airbnb abides by Fair Credit Reporting laws, these may not appear. Check on how far back do background checks go in your state.
But this should not hinder the desire to travel. Airbnb is just one way to secure accommodation. Typical hotels, motels, and hostels do not run background checks on guests.
If you have friends abroad, this can be another viable option. Do a little research to learn what is available to you.