27th February 2019
Airbnb Hosting and Surveillance: Rules and Guidelines
It’s natural for owners of short-term and long-term rentals to be concerned with security and protecting their property. As an important investment, many landlords will take steps to ensure that they feel safe in their efforts. For some, this may mean installing security cameras to monitor their property. While outdoor surveillance for properties may be an acceptable addition to a rental property, in some situations, property owners may choose to install devices inside a home. In these circumstances, it becomes an issue of privacy if a property owner is secretly recording and watching their guests or tenants.
Just this month in Auckland, a group renting accommodation through Booking.com discovered a hidden camera in a lightbulb. The bridal party who has made the booking for a West Auckland wedding stated that they felt “pretty violated” in an article published by NZ Herald. Their findings have also disturbed and shocked the majority of the public, with Booking.com itself responding and establishing an investigation into the incident.
If you’re using Airbnb or a similar platform to rent a property out, it’s crucial to be aware of the laws and conditions that apply to cameras in the home. Violating a guest’s privacy or Airbnb guidelines can have a major impact on your success as a host and may end up resulting in legal action or bans. However, if security is a priority for you in your efforts, it is also important to understand your rights and how you can maintain your standards while protecting your guests’ privacy. Understanding your obligations will allow you to make choices that benefit both you and your tenants, facilitating a positive experience for all involved in your listing.
Airbnb’s Rules Around Electronic Surveillance Devices
As with much of Airbnb’s guidelines and codes of conduct, the platform emphasises respect for all parties in their discussion on electronic surveillance devices. Their rules for these fittings are as follows:
“Our Standards & Expectations require that all members of the Airbnb community respect each other’s privacy. More specifically, we require hosts to disclose all surveillance devices in their listings, and we prohibit any surveillance devices that are in or that observe the interior of certain private spaces (such as bedrooms and bathrooms) regardless of whether they’ve been disclosed.”
From this, it can be understood that Airbnb requires all hosts to inform their guests of any cameras they may have installed in or around the property. More than this, the company rules out any possibility of surveillance being placed in what it considers to be private areas. This means, no recording of bedrooms, bathrooms or in view of these spaces, whether you inform a guest or not. Areas such as front doorways and backyards, spaces that are usually monitored for security purposes, should be acceptable to record as long as guests are aware that a camera is present.
Anything that records sound, video or images are included in these standards and a comprehensive range of devices are covered. Essentially, Airbnb does not want hosts to be recording anybody without their consent. This behaviour is generally unacceptable in most situations, especially in rentals, thus it makes sense for the platform to ban this practice in their policies.
Airbnb also goes on to state in their rules that if a host is found to be violating any of these standards can end up getting them banned from using the platform altogether. There is also the clarification that local laws will always apply within the country the Airbnb is being operated, thus it’s essential to understand what you’re subjected to in terms of where you are located.
Airbnb’s Policies Protect Both Guests and Hosts
Airbnb makes their mission to provide safe and positive experiences for everybody who uses their service a priority. For this reason, rules around surveillance are explicitly clear; hidden cameras aren’t really acceptable in any circumstances. In the same light, for hosts that are concerned with protecting their property, Airbnb offers an insurance policy to cover them too. Airbnb’s Host Guarantee states that they will cover up to 1.3 million dollars if a guest has caused damage to property. This means that in even the worst situations, hosts are financially covered.
When using Airbnb, it’s important to respect the platform’s rules. With the majority of them put in place to protect hosts, it is in everybody’s best interests to understand obligations and rules that need to be followed. Secretly recording guests isn’t allowed in hotels, long-term tenancies or short-term rentals and with Airbnb covering their hosts if things go wrong, there’s really no need for it anyway.
Finding out about host responsibility and rules is easy and straightforward through the Airbnb website. Airbnb outlines their protocols and steps for safe hosting all online with easy to navigate sections. There is also a website for hosts to ask questions to other experienced users in the community. Alternatively, potential Airbnb hosts may also consider speaking to professional, local Airbnb property managers if they’d like more assistance in getting set-up and familiar with the platform.