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Is There a Hidden Camera in Your AirBNB Rental House?


DEC 12

Recently there have been an unfortunate string of reports of AirBNB hosts spying on their guests. 

In Florida, a homeowner was recently arrested and charged for spying on his guests - and authorities say he may have been secretly recording guests for years. 

Wayne Natt, 56,  allegedly installed hidden cameras throughout the home, including in the bedroom, aimed directly at the bed. 

The hidden cameras were disguised as smoke detectors, and an Indiana couple became suspicious when they saw a small light shining out of the side of one of the devices.

In Las Vegas, an AirBNB host was also arrested after guests discovered hidden cameras in that home as well.

Can AirBNB hosts legally use hidden cameras?

Laws vary from state to state, but in most states, it's generally legal for an AirBNB host to place cameras (hidden or visible) throughout their home - with one important caveat. 

Cameras must be placed only in "common areas" and places where a person would not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

So what's that mean?

That means cameras in areas such as a living room or a kitchen are generally okay.

Hidden cameras in a bedroom or bathroom, on the other hand, are not.

What is AirBNB's camera policy?

AirBNB's surveillance policy strictly prohibits any type of cameras or recording devices in "private spaces" - meaning bathrooms and bedrooms are off limits. 

"Private spaces" is not specifically defined, but any area where a person would expect privacy (such as a changing room, bedroom, etc) would be off limits.

In addition, AirBNB policy also stipulates that hosts must disclose any security cameras or other recording devices in their rental listing, so be sure you've thoroughly read through the listing before booking.

What should I look for if I suspect there's a hidden camera in my AirBNB?

Before even booking your your stay, our experts recommend first fully reading the rental listing, and read through the reviews as well. Since AirBNB hosts are supposed to disclose any recording devices, the rental listing page is the first place to look.

If you're concerned or get a bad feeling about the listing - keep looking for another rental.

Once you've arrived at your AirBNB location, a little common sense and some quick searching should help you find any hidden camera relatively quickly.

The first thing to do is a visual search. Hidden cameras are most often built into ordinary objects - clocks, smoke detectors, etc. Look for anything that looks out of place, especially in places like the bathroom or bedroom.

Are there devices that can help me detect a hidden camera?

Hidden Camera Detector

For larger spaces (where a manual search may be too time consuming), or for just extra peace of mind trying to locate a spy camera, there are hidden camera detectors that help with the search.

The detection devices use several different methods to find and detect hidden cameras.

The first method is using a visual light, which reflects off a camera's lens, allowing you to easily locate cameras. The way these work is simple - every camera has a curved glass lens. These detectors shine a bright red light, which reflects off that lens, and reflects back at you as a tiny red dot:

If you see a red dot shining back at you, you can take a closer look at the object to determine if it's actually a camera.

What about WiFi cameras and recorders?

Another type of hidden camera detector is one that detects wireless signals. These devices are a little more sophisticated, and scan wireless frequencies transmitting through the air, allowing you to detect signals that may be live streaming a hidden camera video feed.

What to do if you find a hidden camera

If you do find a nanny cam or hidden camera in your rental house or apartment the first thing to do is take pictures.

Everyone has a smartphone with a camera these days, but if not, a regular digital camera or even a GoPro will do - just document everything, so you have a record before the next step...

Call the police. 

With all the recent publicity the police should be quick to come out to investigate. They may dismantle or disassemble and take the cameras with them as evidence, so be sure you've documented everything on your own first.

After you've contacted police and filed a report, contact AirBNB as well so they can take appropriate action (banning the host) and making sure the host doesn't have any other active properties.

Still have questions about finding hidden cameras?

Our experts will be glad to answer any questions you have about finding a hidden camera, picking out a  hidden camera detector or just giving any general security related advice, so don't hesitate to contact our team and we'll be glad to assist you in any way we can.

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