Hidden cameras are NEVER okay for Airbnb
It is NEVER EVER okay to place hidden security cameras in any private guest areas inside your Airbnb unit without the knowledge or expressed consent of your guests to being monitored.
Private areas are any areas a guest rented that is exclusive for their use only during their stay.
So if a guest rented an entire unit, you should consider the entire unit as private.
Besides it being a complete violation of your guest’s privacy and trust, it’s absolutely against Airbnb’s policies and probably illegal.
Doing it will not only get you booted from Airbnb but could have you facing a fine or even jail time.
Just don’t do it.
Bad reasons for hidden cameras
We’ve heard all of the reasons some hosts give to justify putting hidden cameras in their listings.
- I have valuables in the room: Get rid of it. If you’re going to risk breaking the law to keep an eye on your valuables, just remove them from the listing and put them in storage or somewhere locked away where guests have no access. Either that or trust your guests. Don’t use a valuable item as an excuse to become a voyeur.
- I’m afraid of my guest doing illegal activities in the room: While the media may appear to imply that nightmare Airbnb guests show up often, they are very very rare. But worrying about what a very small minority MIGHT do is a poor reason to actually violate the privacy of EVERY guest.
- I’m afraid of guests having a party/trashing the place: Again, this rarely happens. Airbnb is aggressive at deterring and booting these types of guests. Besides, that’s what the insurance is for. Also, most of your valuables are likely in the public areas–the living room & kitchen–where you could (although we don’t recommend it) have cameras.
- I’m afraid of guest creating too much noise: So just focus on the noise. If you’re concerned about noise, install NoiseAware without the intrusion of cameras.
Where is it okay to have security cameras?
When they clearly make sense for the security of both you and your guests. And they are either conspicuous AND disclosed to guests.
Here are some examples:
- Front door: It’s estimated that about 1 in 3 burglars enter through the front door. Either a doorbell camera or a security camera mounted outside the listing and facing the front entrance will work.
- Designated off-limit areas: In rooms or areas that were clearly designated and communicated to guest beforehand to be “off-limits”. By letting guests know these areas are also monitored, as a courtesy, it could also serve as a deterrent for the rare guest contemplating theft. It’s best to keep these areas locked as well.
- Outdoor perimeter: Front porch, sides of the house, backyard, etc…most hosts will appreciate that there are security cameras around the perimeter of the listing for added security.
- Public shared areas: While we discourage it, it’s alright to have it in the common shared areas of a property, such as the living room and kitchen, if the property has multiple private room listings.
When is it NEVER okay to have security cameras?
It’s strange that this even needs to be discussed but these are the OFF LIMITS areas for security cameras, even if the cameras are clearly visible and not hidden:
- Dressing/changing areas
- Direct view of any of those – Whether the camera is placed in a shared area or placed outside, it should never have a direct view of the doors or windows into the above areas.
- Anywhere hidden inside – Even if you disclose the location, you’re going to give your guests an uneasy feeling at the very least (“where else do they have hidden cameras that maybe they didn’t tell us about?”)
If your guest is booking your entire property, it’s best to just not have any cameras inside and only keep your cameras outdoors.
Do you currently have cameras installed on your Airbnb listing? Where did you place them?
Having recently reading how Airbnb handled and responded to hosts and guests in relation to hidden cameras, being both horrified and trouble with this, I am relieved that you have made an effort to give some sensible guidance to hosts. However I don’t think using terminology in your communications such as ‘creepy host’s and ‘booted out’ is professional. Neither do I think it necessary to state that Airbnb take an aggressive approach. There are plenty of alternative words in the dictionary that you could have used to get your point across. I think you will find that the majority of hosts are educated people who want to and do provide convenient and reasonably priced accommodation for the traveller without any issues, and have their guests best interests at heart.
Without hosts who are prepared to let out their private homes Airbnb wouldn’t operate so It would be nice to see Airbnb support hosts a little more. The booking system could be improved to also give hosts better protection; and you actually know who is going to turn up at the door by the profile picture…this should be mandatory; not a picture of a tree or landscape which is often seen and also I’ve started seeing ‘group’ guests being booked in by someone else !!! My other concern is that penalties for hosts are unrealistic for cancellations. So come on Airbnb, there is room for improvement.