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Creating screening criteria for Background Check results

Learn how to establish a standard operating procedure (SOP) for handling background check results.

Why run a background check?

Companies run background checks for various reasons—as an added layer of security, to meet building contract requirements or in accordance with local laws. (To see which databases we comb through, check out this article.)

Offense categories
A background check could bring up offenses ranging from felonies to misdemeanors, in any of the following categories:

  • Financial
    E.g. bribery & corruption, embezzlement, forgery, fraud, etc.
  • Justice System
    E.g. attempts to escape custody or jail, failure to register (i.e. as a sex offender), forfeiture (of property), warrants, etc.
  • Sex
    E.g. child pornography, exposure & lewdness, rape, sexual assault, etc.
  • Substance
    E.g. alcohol use, impaired driving, marijuana use, trafficking, etc.
  • Violence & Threats
    E.g. child neglect, elder neglect, coercion, homicide with intent, etc.
  • Property & Threat
    E.g. arson, burglary, robbery, theft & possession of stolen goods, etc.
  • Public Conduct
    E.g. cybercrime, disturbing the peace, incitement, loitering & vagrancy, etc.
  • Traffic
    E.g. accident, equipment, impairment, license & documentation, etc.
  • Other
    E.g. accessory, offenses against animals, attempt, conspiracy, etc.
  • Unspecified
    * These offenses do not provide sufficient data to be categorized.

Creating an SOP for your company

When it comes to instructing your team on how to handle the results, we recommend creating a standard operating procedure (SOP). With an established set of business policies, your team will have the confidence they need to accept or decline incoming reservations.

These policies should be based on three factors: the offense type/severity (what was the crime?), the relevance of the offense (how does the crime relate to your operations?) and the offense timeline (how long has it been since the crime was committed?)

Figure out which types of offenses you consider severe and relevant to your business. For instance, you might find the "property & threat" category as a whole more severe and relevant than any traffic offense. Once you make these decisions, consider how many years back you find the offense to be noteworthy. Someone who was charged with petty theft in 2019 might pose a higher risk than someone who was charged with the same offense in 2001.

Determine the severity, relevance and applicable time period of the more common offenses in each category. Decide which of these violate your terms of service (ToS) and which do not. (As mentioned, you might decide all offenses from a specific category violate your ToS.)

TIP: Unless you've determined the offense itself violates your ToS (i.e. the guest poses a threat to your property/neighbours), don't base your decision for approving/declining a guest solely on the background check results. It's important to examine other elements of the reservation that might suggest a high-risk guest.

E.g. If the guest who has been charged with public intoxication is also booking a three-bedroom condo on a Saturday night for "just two people", that might raise some red flags.

With these conclusions, you can create qualifying and disqualifying criteria surrounding varying background check results. That way, your team will have clear guidelines to follow when reviewing reservations.


It is your responsibility as the property manager to protect all data obtained through background checks. You must always follow Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) disclosure guidelines.