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Columbus May Require Background Checks For Short Term Rental Hosts

Councilmember Rob Dorans.
Nick Evans
Councilmember Rob Dorans.

Columbus City Council takes up a measure Monday night that would require background checks for all residents renting out their place on platforms like AirBnB. 

Under the current system, hosts only need to get a background check with the city if their hosting platform doesn't already require one.

But Council member Rob Dorans says he's concerned about the differing standards among platforms. His proposal would require hosts get an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation background check as part of the licensing process.

Dorans says demanding a fingerprint-based background check across the board is common sense.

"Having a BCI background check is sort of the standard thing the city requires for a lot of the different vendors that exist in the city, so as we went back and sort of looked through some of the background check processes that some of the major providers have, we didn't think held up to the same standard as the BCI background check, so we wanted to make sure it's equitable across the board," Dorans says.

He notes the same requirements apply in Columbus for people who want to drive with ride hailing companies like Uber or Lyft.

“We’re asking folks to meet a minimum bar that we require for a lot of different industries,” Dorans says. “For this kind of situation, you know, we require background check for you to get into someone’s car for a Lyft or an Uber, we should be doing the same thing when it comes to staying in someone’s house.”

Under the measure, background checks would be required for the host, the property’s 24-hour emergency contact and property manager.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.