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Why Are Campgrounds Running Background Checks on Guests?

Why Are Campgrounds Running Background Checks on Guests?

Background checks are common when it comes to renting apartments. But what about RV parks and campgrounds? 

Over the last ten years, it seems more campgrounds are enacting this policy for various reasons. 

It’s commonly used for long-term rentals. But we’ve actually experienced it first-hand for short-term campground stays as well.

We found out why campgrounds are running background checks for RV guests and what you need to know about them.

Let’s check it out!

Campgrounds Often Run Background Checks for Long-Term Guests

Long-term or extended stays at campgrounds and RV parks typically refer to visits of more than one month. Often, it’ll be for a season, such as choosing to spend the winter in Florida, Texas, or Arizona. Or, it could be indefinitely as more people choose to live in RVs and trailers rather than traditional housing. 

Owners and managers of campgrounds are responsible for keeping guests as safe as possible while staying on the premises. They also want to make sure their long-term tenants are responsible individuals who respect the property. 

It’s not uncommon to require background checks for those applying to stay at a park for a few months or longer. But we’ve been hearing about more RV parks requiring them for 30-day rentals. In rare cases, some even request them for shorter stays. 

Taratiffin, on the RV Life forum, discussed her application for a 30-day stay at a park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. “Called to inquire about getting a monthly rate and they said I would have to pay $20 per person for a background check to get the monthly rate. They wanted my SS and other personal info.”

In this case, the park appears to be offering a discounted rate for agreeing to a background check. The park likely uses this tactic to reduce problematic guests renting a space for longer than a few weeks. 

As far as background checks run for shorter stays, it’s much less common. However, The RV Roundup in Montgomery, Texas, is geared towards weekly and monthly rentals.

According to their website, “All prospective guests are subject to a criminal background check. The results of the background check are considered on a case-by-case basis.” 

Reasons Campgrounds Require Background Reviews

In most cases, the reasons campgrounds give for running background checks are the safety of other guests and protecting the property. 

The handbook for the Akron Canton Jellystone Park in Ohio is very clear about their policy. All people 18 and over applying for seasonal campsites must consent to a background check. It states, “Akron Canton Jellystone Park will not admit persons that it determines could endanger its campers and/or property based on the results of a criminal background check.” 

It seems most campgrounds will make decisions based on results from a background check on a case-by-case basis. For instance, if an incident happened ten years ago and didn’t result in criminal charges, the park manager may accept the applicant. 

However, specific issues pertaining to child endangerment, or other serious infractions typically result in the application being denied. For these reasons, some people appreciate parks taking the extra steps in protecting the guests. 

As JayWalker2009 stated on the Good Sam Open Roads Forum, “I can see where this might not be a bad idea. Certainly would give me a bit more peace of mind staying there for a month, knowing I am not camping with registered felons or sex offenders.”

Another reason long-term RV park applicants are subjected to background checks has to do with state and city eviction laws. Park owners are akin to innkeepers for their short-term guests but could be legally considered landlords for their long-term tenants. 

Eviction laws in many states often give tenants rights against the landlord. Once a tenant resides in a place longer than 30 days, it can be harder to evict them, regardless of the reason.

Owners may want to be proactive in reducing the likelihood a long-term guest will be a high-risk liability later on. 

Guests Are Asked to Pay the Cost of Background Checks 

When background checks are required to stay in a campground, the cost could be anywhere from $20 to $100 per person. This isn’t an expense most parks are willing to cover, particularly as the number of people choosing RV life increases. 

In most cases, this fee is not refundable if the background check results in the park denying the application. 

Non-refundable application fees are one of the many things to consider when choosing a location to camp with your RV. If the park you’re considering runs background checks for the safety of others, it might be worth it for you to pay the fee. 

Would You Stay in an RV Park Requiring a Background Check?

As more people opt for RV life, campground owners are likely to change policies to keep up with the demand for rentals. Background checks seem to be one of those policies more campers face when choosing where to park their RV. 

With all the perks of RV living, having a background check run on you may be a small price to pay. However, considering all the different ways to live the RV life, you have the freedom to choose what’s right for you. 

What would you do if an RV park asked you to pay for a background check?

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romeo raabe

Thursday 31st of March 2022

Will Hotels start requiring background checks to spend a night there? There are many more shootings I read about at hotels than campgrounds


Thursday 31st of March 2022

I would not stay at a park that does background checks. One reason: I do not give out my social to anybody. That is the quickest way to identity theft. Too many beautiful places to boon dock anyways.


Saturday 29th of January 2022

No. I would never pay for that. This country treats people like walking wallets--it's baloney. Tax for this or that. Fee for this or that. Pay for hotel, pay for parking separately. Pay double on holidays. It's baloney, and anyone that thinks it's ok is a zombie. Wake up, stop doing it.


Thursday 27th of January 2022

There is no flipping way that I'm gonna to stay at a camp site that u have to pay for a background check. But to be honest with u, don't have the money to pay for a camping/rv site in the first place. Also because of the 10 yr rule & my rig most rv sites would not allow me to camp. The only places that I've seen that would allow me to camp is on BLM land or a state park. My uncle has a 5 yr old fancy rv and travels between Seattle and Oklahoma. He's a senior and stays at fancy rv resorts on his travels. I guess the next time I talk with him I'll ask about background checks. See ya down the road. 😎

Philip Wood

Wednesday 26th of January 2022

I am a retired business owner and a criminal background check is not nearly as effective as a credit check. I see a lot of 80 plus rvers with 20 year old rigs and seldom are they anything but good guests. Your problem people can scam the criminal justice people with ease. I have seen it done on too many times. You are highly unlikely to detect fake Id's.

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