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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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  1. L. Walters says:

    If they are running background checks they are required by federal law to have you sign a disclosure form and keep the form on file in a secure locked location for 5 years. They may not let anyone but the person doing the request have access to the form or the results of the background check.

  2. Nan says:

    Strikes me as a better idea than worrying about the age of vintage RVs. When we did an extended stay in at the Graham County Fairgrounds in Arizona two years ago the manager said they had the sheriff’s office do a background check on anyone who wanted to stay more than 24 hours. They also had the sheriff’s department did regular patrols through the park. Felt a lot safer than some of the privately owned more expensive parks in that part of the state.

  3. Jerry M Minchey says:

    Dellanera RV Park, here in Galveston, TX, has a rule that requires you to move to a different site every two months. Maybe that rule has something to do with eviction laws for people staying longer than two months. Now it makes sense. The city of Galveston owns the RV park.

  4. Nan says:

    @Jerry M Minchey, It’s also a way to insure people’s equipment works. No park, private or public, wants broken down RVs taking up space.

  5. Floyd Wesley Cook says:

    I don’t object to rv parks doing background checks but do object to them wanting me to pay for it. I am staying in a park in Tucson for 2 months and had to fill out a financial application form. But I don’t think a background check was included. No fee for me.

  6. Bernie Turner says:

    I wonder as a winter tourist from Canada, how much their background check would really reveal about me since I am from a different country. Lots of Canadians spend winter in the southern USA. Anyone have any thoughts?

  7. Terry Baker says:

    My short answer is no…I will not pay for a background check for every park we want to stay at.
    What I would be in favor of is a background check database where once a background check is performed it is entered into the database and any park can access it. I believe most RV’ers would support a one-time fee of $50. While campgrounds that wished to opt -in might pay $100 per year for unlimited searches.

    An additional option might be a background check exemption for those like Good Sam club members or other Nationally known organizations.

  8. Shadow says:

    Having observed the effects of two identity thefts among family members in past years, I’m not giving personal information to a campground host. Once provided, there is no accountability in the event of an unscrupulous employee accessing the data and using it nefariously.

    As most folks seem accepting of the concept of providing personal data without question, predict a future article on campers suffering identity theft nightmares due to hosts failing to adhere to proper safeguards of their guest’s sensitive information.

  9. Shadow says:

    @L. Walters, concur. Willing to wager hosts are unaware or incapable of implementing required procedures to protect guest’s personal data?

  10. George Neu says:

    Why can’t we get certified once a year by one of the big RV dealers or our local government and pay a one time fee so we don’t have to pay a fee every time we go to a campsite And be given a certification card or document, if this is The direction we’re headed. I think it’s a win-win for everybody and when you go to a campsite every adult should have a card. Cause I see that there will be some loopholes when you go into a campsite with them only doing a background check on one person unless they do it with every adult which can be very costly.

  11. Eric says:

    I would pay an independent inspector to do a background check on me and give me a digital copy to that I can forward off to any campground that request one if they don’t want that I wouldn’t pay them and I wouldn’t stay at their campground I’m not giving somebody all my information I think it’s a scam just a way to find more money from somebody in today’s crazy world

  12. Marvin Lashley says:

    No! No, I certainly would not be ok with them doing a background check on me nor anyone in my family. I have to have a security clearance done for my job often, and a check done for my carry permit. That is plenty. I won’t be staying at any scamming campground that wants this information. How am I to know there would be proper PII safeguards in place at a campground?
    I tell you what, have one done on the owner and all employees at the campground and give me all the info, then let’s talk. It’s only fair that we know we would be staying at a campground that is not run by a felon or sexual predator, right?
    This is nothing more than a money scheme on top of the ridiculous campground fees that are thrown on top of your site fee. There is always a fee for everything…..
    Problem with this one is peoples’ personal information just hanging around in some file cabinet in some room, that may or may not be secure, being “secured” by someone who may or may not be trained in (and use) the proper safekeeping of that information.

  13. Marvin Lashley says:

    @Floyd Wesley Cook, You had to fill out a financial application? For?

  14. Marvin Lashley says:

    @Bernie Turner, The same information they are allowed to get on our citizens if I remember correctly. Canada and US have a very good information sharing network when it comes to CH and DH info. However, they should not be privy to any of it. That is a lot of personal information that may or may not be actually protected properly once they receive it…

  15. Philip Wood says:

    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.

  16. Philip Wood says:

    In Texas, the way the law is interpreted, you are renting a parking space and not a dwelling place.

  17. Philip Wood says:

    True, but it is rare for anyone to do that. Besides, it costs almost nothing to get a credit check and that is better info anyway.

  18. Linde Wintn says:

    We are staying in an RV Park that required a background check. We want to move to another Park and they are requiring one as well. Can we somehow use the one we just had completed for the new Park?

  19. Deborah J. J Dirk-Halley says:

    Why does everyone believe all that all nonviolent felons who have stayed out of system for 38 years and contribute to society are monsters or subhuman? Where people who cross the border untested unvaccinated and unvetted are OK?

  20. Connie James says:

    There are hundreds of thousands of decent people out here who have criminal records in their past, or who have had to file for bankruptcy. Not everyone who went to jail or prison is an axe murderer, looking to attack your family in a campground. Most people with a criminal past who have been out for many years don’t want any problems and just want to live their lives. How dare people talk about them like they need to be weeded out of their precious campgrounds. Who do you people think you are? You feel safer knowing a “felon” isn’t in your campground? This is absurd. Someone can have a felony because they shoplifted or had a DUI 15 years ago. That doesn’t make them too scary to camp next to you.

  21. Vicki Newby says:

    I made a mistake in my life almost 30 years ago. I was denied because of it. I understand why they do them, but going back that far is ridiculous. I can see 7 to 10 years. They also had someone on it that wasn’t even me or my husband. I could have shown them this, had they asked us about it. I’m now paying 2200.00 to get it expunged from my records. I was 26 when it happened, I’m now 57.