What Airbnb Hosts Need to Know About Surveillance Cameras

AirBnB Video Surveillance Cameras

As an Airbnb host, you want to keep your guests happy, comfortable, and safe, all while protecting your property. Many Airbnb hosts have turned to surveillance cameras to keep an eye on their property, which can be a great idea. as long as you are following Airbnb’s policies (and the law).

Today we will discuss the implementation of surveillance cameras in your Airbnb, best practices, and what Airbnb’s policies require.

Why Should I Install Surveillance Cameras in an Airbnb?

As the owner of a home, apartment, or townhome that you plan to rent out (to mostly unknown individuals), having video surveillance cameras installed can give you a bit of peace of mind that if something were to happen—theft, vandalism, other criminal activity taking place on your property— that solid video evidence could be helpful should you need to file a complaint or even pursue prosecution.

As an Airbnb host, video surveillance may also help you identify if your guests are trying to sneak in more people than they have paid for. Having video surveillance can also be a crime deterrent. Most folks will think twice about committing a crime if they know they are on camera.

What’s the big deal, then? Why has video surveillance use by Airbnb hosts been in the news?

While your intentions in using video surveillance may be sound, not everyone is entirely on the up and up. Unfortunately, there have been multiple accounts of Airbnb hosts using hidden cameras to record their guests in private places and potentially private situations – with cameras hidden in smoke detectors, alarm clocks, and motion detectors in bedrooms and bathrooms.

One recent instance includes a family from New Zealand finding an undisclosed camera in a smoke detector that was live streaming from the living room. Another family from Indiana found one in their Airbnb’s bedroom, pointed at their bed. A bridal party in New Zealand found a camera hidden in a lightbulb. Of course, these instances of video surveillance, with undisclosed cameras hidden in private spaces, are against Airbnb policy.

What does Airbnb’s policy have to say about video surveillance?

In 2014, Airbnb established very specific rules regarding the use of surveillance cameras to protect both guests and hosts. The Airbnb Standards and Expectations are very specific in what is allowable.

This is such a common concern that Airbnb has an entire page detailing the ins and outs of surveillance use. Some of these rules include:

  • As a host, you are required to indicate ALL surveillance devices in your House Rules.
  • Additionally, you are required to indicate if there is any active recording taking place in the rental space.
  • As a host, if you do not disclose these devices, even if they are not active, you may be hit with penalties and the guest may cancel with a full refund.
  • Surveillance devices are strictly prohibited from private spaces such as bathrooms and bedrooms, regardless of disclosure.
  • Likewise, guests are required to not violate others’ privacy in any way, including installing cameras to spy on hosts or other third parties without consent.
  • Failure to follow these rules by either host or guest can result in penalty fees and even termination from the Airbnb program.

What can I do to protect my property using video surveillance within Airbnb regulations and the law?

Using video surveillance isn’t totally out of the question as an Airbnb host, you just need to be open, honest, and ethical. You may install cameras in open areas, such as living rooms or kitchen, as well as outdoors to monitor backyard or driveway areas. Remember that you must disclose any cameras in the home, whether they are active and in use or not.

How do Airbnb Guests feel about cameras on properties?

Your potential guests must be made aware of the presence of cameras if you choose to have them in place, which can be met with mixed opinions.  When you disclose this, most people will understand that your surveillance cameras are in place for both their protection (and yours) – but you may want to be prepared for some pushback from guests.

Not everyone is accustomed to having a camera “watching their every move,” and while many will book with confidence that you are looking out for them (as well as yourself), some may pass due to the thought of “being watched” and the prevalence of cameras in Airbnbs in the media, and yet others may pass due to their unscrupulous intentions of bringing additional guests without paying.

What is my best bet for using video surveillance in my Airbnb? I want to be compliant with the rules and the law, but also want to retain my sense of security.

Having surveillance cameras on the exterior of your Airbnb is a smart choice if you are looking to find a balance between guest privacy and your security. If you feel interior monitoring is necessary, a camera that monitors the entrances and exits is a good option.