Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done. Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.
Will you check your next rental accommodation for a hidden camera? Perhaps you should.
Companies like Airbnb have made short-term rentals simpler and more accessible to regular Americans. You no longer have to pay for overpriced hotels or cheap motels out of town. But do you lose anything by opting for an Airbnb over a traditional hotel? A new report from ipx1031 says you do, and it’s a little creepy.
The report surveyed 1000 Americans, asking them questions about their rental experiences. One in four responded that they had found a camera at a vacation rental.
The Rules on Cameras in Airbnb Rentals
Your first thought is likely, “What are the rules on property owners putting up cameras?”
On Airbnb’s website, you can find a page titled “Informing guests about security devices.” It lays out the rules on what is permitted and what isn’t.
Rule One: No Cameras in Private Spaces
“Airbnb prohibits security cameras or recording devices that are in or that observe private spaces like bedrooms, bathrooms, or sleeping areas.”
Airbnb does permit hosts to install cameras and other recording devices inside rental properties in nonprivate areas, such as living spaces, kitchens, and other shared areas. So should you feel like someone’s watching you whenever you come out of the bedroom? Actually, there is more to it.
Rule Two: All Recording Devices Must Be Disclosed
“Undisclosed security cameras or other recording devices are never permitted.”
Airbnb only permits cameras and recording devices (including audio recorders) in those living areas if they have been disclosed first in the property listing. So when you select the listing, you will see whether or not the owner has installed any security cameras.
Rule Three: No Hidden Cameras
Cameras should be obvious in any rooms installed with them, as hidden cameras are prohibited. “Intentionally concealed recording devices (such as hidden security cameras) are never permitted.”
Are Security Cameras a Cause for Concern?
58% of Americans surveyed said they were “worried about hidden cameras in vacation rental properties.” People have different personality types, so some are more affected by the idea of a host installing security cameras than others.
Hidden cameras are the biggest worry, and over one-third of renters search the property looking for them. But should you be concerned about security cameras in permitted areas?
Hosts are doing a balancing act; on the one hand, they need to maintain trust and provide guests with a positive experience while also trying to avoid undue damage to properties.
Many guests use Airbnb properties when they need a minibreak or a period of doing monk mode, where they remove distractions and focus on self-improvement. Guests may want to use the common areas for meditation or yoga. Knowing a camera is watching you during these private moments could be off-putting.
In another survey, 2023 Airbnb guests answered questions on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform on how trustworthy they felt hosts were. Only 24% of guests said they are OK with security cameras installed in common areas such as living rooms and kitchens.
Highly extroverted guests may not be so affected by potentially being watched. However, it could cause more issues for introverts or omniverts who are more private and value alone time.
Despite over three-quarters of guests not “being OK” with permitted recording devices, it hasn’t eroded trust. On the contrary, 83% of respondents said Airbnb hosts were trustworthy.
What You Should Do When Renting a Vacation Property
If you are planning on a short solo vacation or traveling with family soon and want to know whether your rental accommodation contains cameras, here are three steps to put you at ease.
Check the Listing
Before you book any rental property, pay careful attention to the information in the listing for security concerns like video cameras and safety issues. For example, many rooms don’t have smoke or carbon monoxide alarms, and fewer still have fire extinguishers.
So check the section in the listing titled “What This Place Offers.” There you will also find information about any existing security cameras or recording devices.
Ask Your Host
If you’re still unsure, contact your host and ask them about any recording devices and their locations.
Look Around the Property
After checking the listing and speaking to your host, you’re not alone, so take a look around your rental property if you feel uneasy.
Despite it being against Airbnb’s rules, guests occasionally find hidden cameras where hosts are either unaware of the rules or trying to curtail them. In these instances, you should report the finding to Airbnb immediately.
Would You Still Rent a Vacation Property?
Finding a permitted security camera in a shared space in a vacation rental probably won’t ruin your time away. If it makes you uncomfortable, you can simply avoid it once you know where it is, stay in your room, or do what other guests do and cover it with a piece of clothing.
For many, the thought of being recorded will remain less important than a well-priced downtown location.
This article was produced by Face Dragons and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.