An Airbnb host abruptly canceled a family's farmhouse rental in New Hampshire right before their vacation started after they asked about the property's security cameras.
The family had assumed the cameras mentioned in the listing were only outside. But just to make sure, they asked the host exactly where on the property the cameras were located, and found out they were in every room except the bedroom and bathroom. When they asked if the cameras included audio, they got no response. When they asked what the host would do with the recording, they got no response. And when they asked if they could give a deposit to have the cameras turned off, the rental was taken away from them at the last minute.
Airbnb allows cameras and noise monitoring devices inside your rental, as long as they are clearly disclosed in the listing. They are only permitted in public and common spaces, not bathrooms or bedrooms.
Concealed devices are prohibited and hosts are required to disclose how guests will be monitored and if an active recording is taking place.
NBC10 Boston legal analyst Michael Coyne, who is dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, says consumers should ask questions upfront and also realize they may be giving up some rights to privacy when they agree to the terms of service on a vacation rental app.
"Take a hard look at the user agreement, ask questions with respect to it, and then be vigilant about protecting that privacy," Coyne said, "because the privacy under most of these user agreements is significantly limited, unfortunately."
The family said they will "think twice" before renting another Airbnb property, according to NBCBoston. Meanwhile, the the peeping host has taken their property off Airbnb's site.
Image by Greg Habermann / Flickr