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Simple Guide to Airbnb Surveillance Policies

With over 4 million hosts and 6 million active listings, the Airbnb community continues to thrive, providing guests with a simple way to book a quick getaway and enabling property owners to make some extra income on their investments. The top priority for most hosts is ensuring their guests are happy and their property is safe, but this can be hard without aid from security tools.

Installing and operating some form of physical security system is essential for protecting modern properties, both from outside threats and from guests acting in bad faith. But Airbnb hosts must ensure they’re not breaching the platform’s surveillance policies, or worse, breaking any laws.

To help hosts improve the safety and security of their homes, and to aid guests in understanding how Airbnb rentals may be surveilled, this post will act as a guide to Airbnb surveillance policies.

A Guide to Airbnb Surveillance Policies

Why are surveillance systems important?

For Airbnb property owners, especially those with multiple listings and those that don’t live close to their properties, the operation of a surveillance system provides peace of mind and can act as a way to help guests with specific issues. Using modern tools like cloud-based smart locks and cloud video surveillance systems, hosts can access and view devices remotely to offer assistance. 

For Airbnb guests, the presence of active surveillance and security systems demonstrates that their host is committed to ensuring their safety. Smart locks and access control devices make sure no unwanted visitors can enter the property, and the presence of visible security cameras can help to deter criminals and potential intruders from causing unwarranted harm or distress.

What is Airbnb’s surveillance policy?

Airbnb is well-aware of both the benefits brought about by active security systems, as well as the potential dangers of concealed surveillance tools. To ensure the needs of hosts and guests are equally met, the company has issued clear guidance regarding the use of security devices.

Hosts are permitted to install and operate security devices, including cameras, noise-monitoring devices, recording tools and similar smart home devices, provided these technologies:

  • Are clearly disclosed in the listing description
  • Do not infringe on a guest’s personal privacy 
  • Are only installed in public or common spaces 
  • Are not installed in sleeping areas or bathrooms

For example, cameras and recording devices may be installed to monitor main entrances and driveways, as long as they’re clearly visible and disclosed to guests ahead of their reservation. However, surveillance devices may not be installed in private areas like bedrooms, bathrooms or changing rooms under any circumstances, no matter whether they’ve been disclosed or not.

If a host fails to disclose the presence of surveillance devices (even if they’re not active) Airbnb may impose penalties, including account deactivation, and guests will be entitled to cancel with a full refund. Surveillance rules are also applied in reverse, meaning if guests are caught using surveillance tools to spy on hosts or third parties, they can expect to face similar consequences. 

How to disclose surveillance devices 

Simply ensuring surveillance devices are clearly visible, only installed in permitted areas and have been disclosed to guests verbally may not be enough to guarantee that hosts are acting within the guidelines issued by Airbnb. To ensure compliance, the presence of surveillance devices must be disclosed within the property’s listing on the Airbnb platform.

Here’s how to achieve this on Airbnb’s site:

  • Navigate to your listings page and select the property in question
  • Find listing details and scroll down to things guests should know
  • Click the edit button and locate the safety devices section
  • Check the box labeled security cameras/audio recording devices
  • Click edit and describe each device in detail, including the type of device, its location and whether the device will be active or not during the guest’s stay

Is surveillance permitted outdoors and in restricted areas?

Airbnb hosts may wish to install and operate surveillance devices intended to cover outdoor areas like backyards, patios and alleyways. Listings may include rules outlining the permitted use of popular amenities such as BBQs, hot tubs and fire pits, with hosts wishing to use surveillance devices to make sure that these rules are followed and appropriately respected. 

Similarly, hosts may have guesthouses, sheds, storage areas or garages on their properties which guests are not permitted to access. Installing surveillance equipment used to monitor these areas can help hosts to ensure guests are acting in accordance with prior agreements.

Airbnb’s surveillance policy will treat these deployments in the same way as indoor security systems, meaning as long as all devices are disclosed, visible and not able to monitor private areas like bedrooms, they will be permitted. However, extra care must be taken when installing outdoor devices to avoid capturing footage of neighboring homes or nearby public spaces.


Summary

Surveillance devices and related home security systems can help to improve safety and security for Airbnb hosts and guests alike. However, property owners must make sure their systems are installed in keeping with Airbnb’s surveillance policies. Devices must be disclosed in the listing description, clearly visible to guests and only ever installed to monitor common spaces.

Surveillance devices may never be installed in bathrooms and sleeping areas, regardless of whether their presence has been disclosed. Hosts must also ensure outdoor devices are not able to monitor neighboring homes or public spaces, and are advised to check local laws and regulations to make sure their surveillance installations are compliant with relevant guidelines.


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