It’s June in London. For the last month it’s been rain and more rain. My airbnb has been busy as usually but this is mostly due to my low prices. I can say that my success is due to keeping a low price and being flexible with my guests (letting them arrive early etc). Also the fact that I accept single night bookings means that I have a constant turnover of guests. This constant turnover is more demanding on me with so many sheets to clean and check-ins/outs but this sends all the right signals to airbnb. Bookings lead to bookings and a high number of reviews keeps my space high in the rankings.
Airbnb trust and safety team
I received an email from the Airbnb ‘trust and safety’ team telling me that they have received a report telling them that I have a surveillance device in my listing. I was frankly told that if they find that I have broken airbnb’s hosting policy my account will be suspended or deactivated (there is little difference, in practice both mean curtains). I was shocked and started to get very worried. Breaking a small rule here and there might mean a slap on the wrist but being accused of spying on a guest like this could be very serious. I had 24 hours to contact airbnb and explain myself or face a certain end to my airbnb hosting career.
hosts are required to provide notice to their guests of any surveillance device(s) present in a listing prior to booking, regardless of whether they’re in-use or operational during the reservation, the guest’s consent is required before the reservation and payment are confirmed – airbnb hosting rules
This issue with my security cameras came from a guest review. A guest checked out and immediately left a review saying he spotted two security cameras when he was checking out of my listing. He does mention that they were both facing the doorway of my house (and therefore not in the bedroom for example) but this seems to be enough for a report to be sent to airbnb. I suspect the report is auto triggered from keywords or actions from the review and not a separate report sent to airbnb. So the guest might have been unaware of the hot water he had now landed me in.
Do you have security cameras in your Airbnb?
I do have two security cameras in my airbnb listing. Both face the main entrance way to my house. The first is outside and is a ring video doorbell. This is primarily a doorbell but it also records video when it detects movement and you can speak to whoever rings the bell from your phone. I find this very useful for when say I have a Amazon delivery and I’m not at home (I can tell the delivery person to leave my parcels next door). The second is a Canary security camera. This is inside the house and faces to door. This is more a full time surveillance device. In some ways this is doubling up on watching my front door but both are necessary i find to get a full picture of whats happening in your listing.
I wrote to airbnb and explained that I did have security cameras in my house. But they only face the front door and are NOT in any private space for the guests (not in the bedrooms for example). It’s best to write a detailed description of the issue so anyone reading it will be in no doubt that your intentions are honest. Any hint of deception will not play well. I made it clear the cameras are for security purposes since I live in the house with my wife and may occasionally need to check who has come into my house; especially at night. I also explained the camera on the outside of my house (the ring video doorbell) for when I have have parcel deliveries or when a airbnb guest arrives unexpectedly (or possibly has trouble entering the house). I was quite willing to provide some sort of evidence to airbnb (pictures maybe) that what I was telling them is correct. Thankfully Airbnb did not ask any further questions and reinstated my account.
I had actually told Airbnb in the past that I have cameras in my listing. I have had several instances where guests broke my house rules by bringing extra guests into the listing. After raising a dispute with a guest I once sent video evidence of them bringing another person into my house in the middle of the night to airbnb. At that time Airbnb did not check that I had disclosed the presences of cameras to my guests (or quite possibly there rules did not exist at that time as this was several years ago). I have now mentioned in all of my listings that security cameras are in operation.