Taking a trip should be all about having fun and storing precious memories that you can look back on later. You don’t want to be worrying if someone is watching you, especially in the place you are staying at and you will be calling home for the next few days.
But finding a surveillance camera installed in your accommodation can happen. There are guests who book for two people but arrive at their accommodation with five people in their party. Hosts want to make sure the strangers they are letting into their home will follow all House Rules. If they are not sharing spaces with guests, the only way to know if guests are being good is through recording devices.
What are the rules on security cameras and other recording devices on Airbnb?
Airbnb’s Standards and Expectations require hosts to indicate the presence of any recording device in their listing and House Rules. Disclosed or not, the company explicitly prohibits recording devices, particularly inside private spaces like the bedroom and the bathroom.
If the existence of a recording device is disclosed after the accommodation has been booked, Airbnb allows the guest to cancel the reservation and get a refund.
What is considered a security camera or recording device?
According to Airbnb’s website, these devices are “any mechanism that can be used to capture or transmit audio, video or still images. This includes, but is not limited to, devices like Wi-fi cameras, nanny cameras, web cameras in computer monitors, baby monitors, mounted or installed surveillance systems, decibel and device monitors, and smart phones with video and/or audio recording capabilities.”
Finding a hidden camera in an Airbnb property is rare. But if you are still in doubt, here are a few steps you can try to make sure you are staying in a recording device-free accommodation.
Check objects that are out of place
For this step, think of a place where someone who wants to record you would likely install a camera to get the image they want. It’s good to find smoke detectors in your Airbnb rental, but a smoke detector directly over the bed seems an odd place to install it. Or a digital clock next to the bed. In this age of smartphones, it’s strange for a host to have a digital clock in their property.
Use a flashlight to find the reflection of lenses
This is a simple step to follow if you suspect or want to know if a camera is in your Airbnb rental. In the areas of the property where you suspect a camera maybe hidden, like the bedroom or the bathroom, turn off the lights and shine a flashlight around (you can use your phone for this). It should help you spot a light glinting off a camera lens.
Check the drawers and cabinets
Spy cameras are easy to hide because they are very small. However, they still need space to hide their cables, battery, etc. The most likely places to hide them are inside drawers and cabinets.
Scan the wi-fi network
Devices that use wireless signal to stream footage online can easily be detected. Guests can use a network scanner app like Fing that will identify the devices that are connected on the network, as well as their IP addresses and their manufacturers.
After arriving at your Airbnb accommodation, connect to your host’s wi-fi, turn on Fing to scan the network. It will display your device and others connected to that network. If there is another user connected to it, there’s a good chance it is a recording device.
Use an RF detector
What if the host is using a second private wireless network for their hidden camera? You don’t have access to this network and apps like Fing will be useless.
If this is the case, you can use an RF detector, a tiny, handheld device that you can easily purchase online. Wireless devices emit a radio frequency. An RF detector can spot devices that are emitting RF signals, showing you where you can find them in an Airbnb property. Just sweep the device around the room, and when it starts to beep repeatedly that means it has found a wireless signal coming from a certain device. You can hone in on the exact location by moving the RF detector in the direction where the sound of beeping increases.
The old-fashioned approach
If you suspect a hidden camera but can’t find it, you can simply cover the object of concern with a shirt or towel. For example, if there is an alarm clock that you find suspicious, drape something over it. It will no longer be able to capture any images if the lens is covered.
Another alternative is to unplug objects that do not need to be plugged in. This applies to hidden cameras that need a power source to function. Digital clocks are usually the obvious place a hidden camera. If you find one in the bedroom, especially on the nightstand, unplug it and store it away in the drawer.
What do you do when you find a recording device in your Airbnb?
Finding a hidden camera in an Airbnb property happens, but it’s rare. Airbnb is quick to de-list any property that violates this rule. Air-rive manages several Airbnb properties across Queensland that meet every traveller’s needs.
If you do find one, contact the host and Airbnb immediately to report it. you can cancel your reservation and get a full refund. Recording people secretly is illegal, so it is up to if you want to file a police report.
If you can’t contact the host and still feel fine staying in the property for the time being, you can unplug the hidden camera, which should turn it off, or cover it with a piece of clothing or towel.