INDIANAPOLIS – Would you stay in an Airbnb or Vrbo rental property if you knew cameras were watching you?

If you’re like 76% of respondents in a recent survey (and myself), the answer is no. However, what if you didn’t know there were cameras inside the property keeping an eye on your behavior? 

The new survey by Vivint shows 45% of Airbnb and Vrbo hosts plan to add extra safeguards around their properties this year. And more property owners are turning to hidden cameras, largely due to bad guest behavior many owners have complained about in the last few years.

Here are the key takeaways from the Vivint survey:

  • 1 in 10 rental hosts had hidden cameras or microphones in their rental that their guests were unaware of.
  • 76% of guests said they would not stay in a vacation rental if they knew cameras were inside the home.
  • 40% of hosts have had guests damage their rental, and 23% believe the damage was intentional.
  • Rental hosts say families make the best guests, and groups of young people make the worst guests.
  • 1 in 3 rental hosts screens prospective renters by checking their social media profiles.
  • On average, hosts say guests who damaged their rental did $553 worth of damages.

As a guest, you have rights when it comes to being on camera during your stay. Airbnb and Vrbo have rules against “hidden” surveillance.

Airbnb’s rules state that the host must disclose any surveillance devices:

  • Intentionally concealed recording devices (such as hidden security cameras) are never permitted
  • Airbnb prohibits security cameras or recording devices that are in or that observe private spaces like bedrooms, bathrooms, or sleeping areas
  • You must indicate the presence of all security cameras or other recording devices in or around a listing, even if they’re not turned on or hooked up
  • Undisclosed security cameras or other recording devices are never permitted
  • You must also always disclose if an active recording is taking place

Vrbo’s rules are more straightforward.  While security cameras are allowed on the outside of a property, they are never permitted inside:

  • Surveillance devices, which use any form of capture device such as a camera or an audio recorder, can’t be used inside of a property.
  • Exceptions: Smart devices which may not be activated remotely are allowed provided the guest is informed of their presence and given the option to deactivate them.

Experts say you should thoroughly read the reviews about a host before renting from them in order to look for red flags. If you are concerned about this, ask them directly. If they say they don’t have cameras, and you find one, make sure you document it on their review page and call the police.