Imagine you’re young, you make a poor decision, and you end up in jail. You serve your time, and then turn your life around. You’re trying to live life as a productive adult, but your criminal conviction hangs over your head. You can’t partake in all the things “normal” people can, particularly in the gig economy.
Uber has stepped up its policy in this department, conducting not just annual background checks on its drivers, but real-time continuous ones in order to ensure customers are in safe hands. For Airbnb, the problem is more nuanced, as Quartz reports in a fascinating investigation.
Airbnb will completely bar users from its platform for some serious crimes, and in other cases, only ban users for a period of time after their conviction.
Minor offenses such as marijuana possession or disorderly conduct won’t get you banned from Airbnb. Crimes including fraud or property damage will get you banned for seven years from the date of a conviction. “Less serious crimes,” such as felony larceny or felony burglary, will earn you a 14-year ban. While those convicted of murder, rape, terrorism, child molestation, or being listed on a sex offender registry will be banned from Airbnb for life.
Airbnb told Quartz that it consulted a number of experts over the development of its policies dealing with those with criminal convictions. However, some feel that it’s not Airbnb’s right to continue to punish those who’ve served for their past crimes. Some are even going so far as to call it a form of discrimination along the lines of racial discrimination—a problem Airbnb is also familiar with.
In the past, Airbnb has come under fire for how hosts decide who gets to rent, and how renters decide who to stay with. Namely, it’s had issues with racism, as a Harvard study discovered that renters were less likely to stay with Black hosts. A few years later, it came to light that Black guests were being rejected by Airbnb hosts for their race alone.
The sharing economy has introduced a number of debatable issues when it comes to who gets to participate. For more on the fight for allowing ex-criminals to participate in Airbnb, head over to Quartz.