I have enjoyed being a host with airbnb but my latest guest did shine some light on airbnb and safety concerns I have. My guest seemed pleasant when checking in and nice he was no bother and communication was great, up until halfway through his stay and the police rang me to tell me he was a fugitive on the run for a serious crime and they are going to smash the door down to retrieve him.
Now, after going to check his profile I understand airbnb ‘verified’ his government id, I now know he had been in jail for the last 6 years and he was on remand. This makes me wonder how airbnb ‘check’ such things as I don’t believe they do? I now have many questions that have not been answered by airbnb, they keep promising someone from the ‘correct’ team is going to contact me but it’s been nearly a month since this incident happened. I’ve had a lot to deal with since this booking and my trust in airbnb has dramatically reduced. I am now very skeptical of anyone booking in and I’ve had no contact from airbnb whatsoever which I think is pretty poor, they wouldn’t even let me cancel the booking to let someone else stay. This has left me feeling uneasy as he could of been anyone, could of even been sharing a room in someone else’s house.
I want to make other hosts aware of this as I did think we were protected by things like this, but we are not.
@Claudia2350welcome to ABB CCfrom a fellow Host in Auckland, New Zealand.
What an awful thing to be subjected to.
It's beyond belief what some will do to try evade the Law but it catches up with them.
Have the local Police been supportative towards you?
Just remember he is one out of the box and won't be back.
Most people are nice and decent.
The sun will come up tomorrow and shine brightly on a new day with positivity for you @Claudia2350
Claudia, you may like to msg Catherine Powell from ABB.
All the best
@Claudia2350really sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience. It sounds extremely frightening.
All the Airbnb ID check does is verify that the account belongs to a real person. They don't do any background checks if you're outside of the US. Even if the account is ID verified, it also does not mean that the account name matches the name on the ID: you can change it to whatever you want once the account is created. You can check ID yourself on check in if you disclose that you require it in your listing, which may discourage bad guests but it obviously also doesn't help you do any background checks. You could check the name yourself with an Internet search, but that alsodoesn't guarantee anything.
It's a difficult situation for sure. I would recommend chatting with guests before booking so that you can feel comfortable.
I am sorry to hear that, you’ve a terrify experience.
@Helen427 advise is much appreciate 😊
The short answer is that as an Airbnb host, you do need additional insurance.
Hosting with any real frequency is likely to void your current homeowners policy, and Airbnb's own protection is inadequate.
In the Airbnb help page, where you’ll find articles such as the below.
Host Protection Insurance
Investopedia is the world's leading source of financial content on the web, ranging from market news to retirement strategies, investing education to insights from advisor
Airbnb: Advantages and Disadvantage
Do consult with your local insurance agency for additional protection and the insurance procedures.
I hope Airbnb will contact you soon to updated your concern.
When Airbnb verify Government ID, it's a check of a submitted photograph against a submitted document, such as a driving license or passport to verify the photographs match up. There are limitations to this type of check.
There can be further background checks against public records for criminal convictions and sex offenders but only in the United States.
Airbnb are quite clear as well in their published advise, they cannot guarantee you can interact safely with every guest.
They aren't doing enhanced DBS checks on guests or cross referencing Interpol red notices.
What you should do, as you have skin in the game, is to read the limited procedures that airbnb undertake with guests. Then decide what further checks you may want to do yourself.
It is also important to note that "Verified" does not always equal "Government ID provided." It means that a third party has said you are who you say you are. My sister's profile says "Identity Verified" and she has never uploaded an ID. She clicked the button to log in with Facebook and immediately her profile was Verified.
@Catherine-Powell This needs to be addressed ASAP. I've already reported that another host was thinking of getting out of the business after Airbnb cleared a known felon to book her space. He kept asking if she wanted to see his guns. She ignored him. Later, she walked by and he "exposed" himself and began to "perform." Before she could call Airbnb and the police, he left. But days later was in a 12-hour stand-off with a SWAT team who found meth and multiple guns in his possession. A check of online court records would have revealed he wasn't suitable.
If you want this platform to succeed, you can't "hide" the identities of potential guests and expect hosts to take any stranger who inquires when your "background" checks and vetting is so limited. Especially when some of the guests try to book on the same day they signed up.
Put back the "personal touch" on the platform where hosts who actively manage their listings are allowed to interact without the AI bots censoring our attempts to get to know one another before approval.
I have said that one day a host will get hurt or worse and that's will end the platform.
@Claudia2350I completely understand how you are feeling. The emotional toll an experience like yours takes cannot be underestimated.
12 months ago (almost to the day) I also had a 'guest' arrested on my property for car theft. Fortunately I was suspicious of his behaviour fairly early and called the police to speak to him even though I had no real evidence of wrong doing. Turns out they had been looking for him and by calling them to my premises, I alerted him to his current address (mine) where they then arrested him. And evicted him in the process.
On entering the premises after he left, it was clear he had been using drugs. It cost almost $10,000 AUD to replace all the linen, furnishings and interior doors - basically anything that could absorb the smoke and to have the premises professionally drug decontaminated.
I tell you my story to explain how I am overcoming my concerns to continue STR.
- I am responsible for my safety. Airbnb are a booking platform who dont know me or my tolerance for risk. As an international company my small space is of no consequence to them.
-I immediately installed security cameras and now make it quite clear in my listing description that any unlawful behaviour will be called out. I also ask guests to confirm they are aware of the house rules and cameras before booking. Pointing out the cameras seems to have worked as a deterrent to potential wrongdoers so far (although have not been active for much of last 12 months due to Covid)
- I make sure to converse with potential guests before accepting booking request (dont use instant book) and if I feel any unease at all, I decline to accept. There will probably be someone else looking at same dates but if not, there is no price to put on peace of mind and personal safety
-I have no hesitation to call the police if I feel unsafe at any time
Yes it would be great if everyone was screened properly (guests and hosts) but short of requesting an international police clearance, I don't know how any business can provide this security. Hotels and airlines dont require anything other than credit card acceptance to make a booking - Airbnb work on the same principle....
There is no simple answer other than to cover yourself as best you can.
I am totally agree with you,
“ Airbnb are a booking platform, who dont know me or my tolerance for risk. As an international company my small space is of no consequence to them”
“...cover yourself as best you can.”
I think ABNB could really do better on vetting people and allowing hosts to get a little more clarity into who is booking their space. I recently had a guest provide me her full name in her request to book and encouraged me to look her up on social media Why can't we be provided full info on our guests just as hotels are?