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If we have enough information (usually at least the user’s first and last name, plus date of birth) to identify a guest or host who lives in the United States, we check certain databases of public state and county criminal records, as well as state and national sex offender registries for criminal convictions and sex offender registrations. If we have enough information (usually at least the user’s first and last name plus date of birth) to identify a guest or host who lives outside the United States, 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.
We also check the OFAC list (which includes terrorist designations) for all users that transact on the platform. Background checks are conducted for us by our approved background check providers.
Although background checks may help identify past criminal conduct where records are available, background checks don’t always identify a person’s past crimes or other red flags, they are never a guarantee that a person won’t break the law in the future. Due to the way certain databases are maintained, there may be gaps in the coverage provided by public records searches, and the online databases may be only updated periodically by local governments which we do not control or direct. Results of these database checks may not reveal or include include recent criminal record activity.
No background check should ever be relied upon as the sole indicator of suitability. You should always exercise your own judgment about whom to interact with and follow other sensible safety tips.
How does Airbnb conduct background checks?
As discussed above, we currently check certain databases of public state and county criminal records, as well as state and national sex offender registries on U.S.-based guests and hosts where we have at least an accurate first and last name plus date of birth. If we have that information, we submit it to one of our approved background check providers, which checks the user’s identity against public records of convictions and sex offender registries.
If we have enough information (usually at least the user’s first and last name plus date of birth, and government-issued ID number where applicable) to identify a guest or host who lives outside the United States, 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. To the extent we do this outside the United States, we will use one of our approved vendors, which checks the user’s identity against available local databases.
We also check the OFAC list (which includes terrorist designations) for all users that transact on the platform.
What are some of the limitations of these background checks?
Although background checks may help us identify past criminal conduct where records are available, they have several limitations, and do not guarantee that all past criminal conduct has been identified or that a person won’t break the law in the future. For example:
A. The scope of our search is limited
We only run these checks on U.S.-based guests and hosts when we have at least the user’s first and last name plus date of birth. We do not have these identifiers for all hosts and guests and therefore cannot guarantee that we have conducted a check on every host or guest. In addition, we are not conducting these checks on additional guests staying with the guest who books an accommodation. In this case, only the guest who books that accommodation will be checked as part of that booking, when we have the necessary information.
Even where we have the necessary information, these checks only work where the users have accurately given us their full, correct legal name and date of birth. Likewise, we cannot guarantee that users who provided us full information gave us information that is accurate or belongs to them.
While we have a process for periodically reviewing criminal records of active US users, we may conduct a background check only once per user, and a check may have been conducted months before your interaction with the user.
In addition, for users who live in the United States, we do not always check every state and county courthouse records and other criminal registries or other public databases (such as but not limited to Moving Violation Reports (MVRs) and Driving Records). It's important to know that the criminal record information searched and reported for each type of check varies by state, and sometimes county, due to variations in state laws and state and county criminal record reporting systems.
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, and even if we do, the scope and accuracy of coverage may vary.
B. Search results may be incomplete
The databases we check are not necessarily complete, and may not include records of prior criminal conduct. For example, not all criminal records are public in all states, not all criminal records are captured by the databases we check, and convictions and records of crimes committed outside the country where the background check is conducted may not be included. Also, as determined by applicable law, public records databases may be limited to records of conduct that took place a certain number of years prior to the date of the check (for example, the prior seven years in certain U.S. states). We cannot guarantee that the limited background checks we conduct will identify all past criminal convictions or sex offender registrations by a guest or host. Therefore, you should not rely on another user’s completion of a background check as a guarantee that the user has no criminal background or other red flags.
Finally, criminals may circumvent even the most sophisticated database or search technology.
C. Search results do not guarantee safety
In sum, while we hope these user vetting tools will be useful to help protect our community, they don’t always identify a person’s past crimes or other red flags, cannot guarantee that a person won’t break the law in the future, and are never a guarantee of safety or that a host or guest who has completed a background check is safe or safer than any unknown person you may meet in any other way.
You should also not rely on background checks as a replacement for exercising your own judgment about whom to interact with or as a replacement for following sensible safety tips.
What are the crimes for which you remove users from the platform?
Users with serious criminal histories may be removed or referred for further review if our checks show convictions within a certain time period.
Less serious convictions will never result in removal (such as disorderly conduct or marijuana possession).
Some other crimes may result in removal for a period of 14 years (such as felony burglary or felony larceny) or seven years (such as fraud or property damage) from the date of conviction.
Severe crimes may result in removal for a longer period of time or even permanently (such as murder, terrorism, rape or child molestation).
Will a background check cause a delay for guests booking a listing?
For some last-minute reservations, background checks may delay booking a listing. This can happen when a reservation is made within 48 hours of the home’s latest possible check-in time and a guest has a criminal record, but the offense is for something that isn’t against our policies. At that point, the reservation will be held in pending status, as we confirm additional background check information. After that’s completed, we’ll let the guest know if the reservation can be made or not.
Guests also have the option not to wait for the confirmation and cancel the reservation free of charge, as long as it’s done before the reservation is confirmed via email.
Can a user whose account has been removed due to their criminal background be reinstated?
Yes. We appreciate that there are a number of factors that can result in someone having a criminal record. As a company whose mission is to create more belonging, this means both creating space for individuals with criminal records to demonstrate their successful rehabilitation, while still helping to ensure the safety of the entire Airbnb community.
As such, we have developed a rigorous, evidence-based approach for assessing whether a user account can be reinstated, despite having a criminal record that would otherwise make them ineligible for account access.
Are all users removed for their criminal background eligible for appeal?
Some offense types are not eligible for reinstatement due to the risk posed by the offense itself. These include the following types of offenses:
- Sexual violence and exploitation
- Human trafficking
- Hate crimes
How can someone appeal a removal on Airbnb?
Airbnb has a specialized team trained to review and assess eligibility for reinstatement. If someone receives a removal notice related to a criminal background check, they can respond to that notice directly, submit an appeal via the link when they attempt to login, or contact customer service directly requesting to appeal.
What are the factors used to assess whether an account can be reinstated, and how did Airbnb determine the criteria?
The primary factors we consider to determine eligibility for reinstatement are an individual’s age at the time of conviction, number of prior convictions, and time since last conviction. We also take into account other individual factors correlated with a reduced risk of future criminal conduct such as employment, rental history, and participation in education or counseling.
We identified these criteria by reviewing an extensive body of research, including “time to redemption” studies and other literature that identified individual factors that are correlated with a reduced risk to ensure a more nuanced, individualized approach.
What safety tips should I follow when interacting with a host or guest?
- Get to know your host or guest when confirming—and before the start of—their trip or experience via our Platform. We provide various tools to enable you to do so, including reviews from other members, Verified ID or other identity process, on-platform member messaging that lets you message the host or guest while anonymizing your real email address for additional privacy and account security, and reservation requirements that hosts can set for their guests.
- Protect your finances by paying only through Airbnb’s secure payments platform and by protecting the privacy and physical security of your financial information, including your social security or other tax ID number, your date of birth, credit card and bank account information, and government issued IDs.
- Be cautious when sharing personal information, like your email address, phone number, home address, place of work. Instead, use Airbnb’s on-platform member messaging.
- Keep a clear mind and avoid doing things that impair your judgment.
- Consider doing a web search and checking public government databases such as the U.S. federal or state sex offender registries for the name(s) of anyone with whom you interact offline.
- Please report any users who violate our Terms of Service to us. Examples of users who violate our terms of service include:
- Users who ask you to send them money outside the Airbnb payments platform
- Users who send you harassing or offensive messages
- Users who behave inappropriately online or at a listing
- Fraudulent registration, user profiles, or listings
- Users who otherwise create a safety risk
- Tell a friend or family member of your travel or hosting plans.
- Know the contact information for emergency responders in the city of your listing, and keep that handy in case you need it.