Caught a Guest Red-handed with Camera!

You guys, you really gotta get a camera if you don’t have one. We’ve had one for a couple of years now - that we use in the interior of our apartment.

First, it’s completely legal because it’s in a public part of the apartment (the living room/kitchen area). And it is conspicuous - it can be easily seen. And we tell guests we have it in our Airbnb listing. So, it’s all on the up and up and totally legit.

Yesterday, these two Canadian sisters checked in. Very nice people… or so it seemed!

Late in the afternoon we got a message from them asking if it would be okay if they brought a male friend over to spend the night - because he didn’t have any place to stay! (Sure, so come stay at our place - for free - and violate all kinds of insurance and safety regulations, because some guy who is a total stranger to us - doesn’t have a place to stay! No problem)!

Of course, I wrote back and told them definitely NO!

Around 2:00 a.m. we went to bed. This morning when we woke up we were curious if they had brought anybody back - as they had not yet arrived home by the time we went to bed last night. So we checked in with the camera.

And guess what we saw!! At 4:02 a.m. the two girls, looking like sneaking thieves, open the front door of the apartment, peek in to see if anyone is there - looking very nervous! I had left the lights on so they could see when they got in - but they must have thought we were still up with all the lights on.

Once they convinced themselves no one was there, they waved for the guy, who was waiting in the hall, to come in and they quickly ushered him back to their room!

So… my wife and I decided to play a little trick on them to smoke them out! We normally stay back in our room until very late in the mornings. Guests come and go while we’re back there and we don’t see or hear a thing.

But this morning, we decided to station ourselves in the living room! No one can leave the apartment without walking through the living room, so we knew this would cause a big problem for them! They would either be stuck in their room all day - or they’d be forced to eventually tell us.

It was so funny. The girls were going back and forth between their room and the bathroom like crazy. When one goes from their room to the bathroom, they can sneak a peek into the living room… so they were obviously using the bathroom as the excuse to check and see if we were still in the LR.

My wife and I were laughing so hard to ourselves, realizing what a mess we had put them in by hanging out in the LR!

Finally, one of them came out and started casually chit chatting. I knew what she was trying to get out. Somehow she had to get us to tell her how long we’d be in the living room. And I was very interested to see how she was going to do it!

She started off by telling us about their day yesterday and all the amazing things they saw in Manhattan. Then she told us about their plans for today. And then, she got to what she really wanted and she said, “So what are you guys up to today?”!!! VERY SMOOTH!

I said, “Oh, we’re just going to hang out here all day.” And when I said “here” I kind of motioned to indicate I meant the living room!

She said, “Ah okay cool… well have a nice day.” And then she rushed back into her room, where they apparently had a little conference to decide what to do!

Oh and just to make it a little more fun, I looked at her and very sincerely said, “by the way, I’m so sorry we couldn’t allow your friend to come over last night - but thank you for respecting that and not bringing him over.”

To this she said, “Oh, no problem!” She didn’t even flinch. Not a single discernible change of expression or any sign of body language that would tell you she was LYING through her teeth.

What a smooth liar she was! I almost had to go back and re-watch the video to see that they really did bring him over.

I was laughing so hard thinking about this poor guy - if he needed to use the bathroom, he wouldn’t be able to come out. Because they had to keep him hidden. It was obvious he’d have to come out sooner rather than later. It was just a question of how long they’d put off the inevitable.

And it only took about 5 minutes. They came back out and said, “You know that guy we asked you about last night - well, HE CAME OVER THIS MORNING. He wasn’t here last night, he’s only been here a couple of hours - is that okay?”

This was at about 10:00 a.m. I asked what time he came over and she said, 7:00.

Well, no - it wasn’t 7:00 a.m., it was 4:00 a.m. 4:02 to be exact! And because she lied - I told her she’d have to pay a $50 fee. Which is $20 for our regular extra guest fee and $30 for breaking our rules. If she had told the truth I might have felt a little mercy, but… they lied.

They knew they were so guilty they didn’t even put up a fight - which was decent of them actually. Some people would have kept fighting. But they knew when to quit. And they paid the $50 bucks on the spot in cash!

I also let them know what they did was a serious violation of our rules and of Airbnb’s requirements. I told them they (meaning “we” actually - but to scare them I said ‘them’), are not covered by Airbnb if anything happens while they have someone who is not on the reservation in the house. And I told them to think about it - ‘you’re staying in someone’s home, they don’t know you from Adam, and they certainly don’t know who you’re bringing over from Adam, and it can be very scary to have a total stranger who is in no way documented on your reservation in their house. So, not only is it a serious violation of the terms of service but it’s also scary for the host.’

Airbnb’s Response: But here’s the important thing to know. I wrote to Airbnb during this time to ask them if we could kick them out. (They have one more night with us).

Here’s what Airbnb wrote back - and take careful notice about what they require:

John here from Airbnb. I hope you are well.

If your guest has violated your house rules the n you can ask them to leave. They will not be entitled to a refund from you.

Did you see the person that they brought to the property? We would need some evidence of this.
If you are willing to let them stay for the final night then it is entirely up to you but you are well within your rights to ask them to vacate the premises if the rules have been violated.

If they have any issues with that or are refusing to go then we can reach out to them. The decision is yours and we will support you no matter what you decide.

Thank you

Isn’t that amazing. We can kick a guest out for violating our rules - as long as we have EVIDENCE! So our eye witness report - doesn’t count as evidence. We have to actually have some kind of tangible proof if we want to kick a guest out for a rules violation.

That’s why we feel we have to have a camera. How else could we have evidence of something like this without one?


Hardly amazing. Just plain common sense.

Of course they want evidence, or a host who didn’t like a guest for whatever reason could make things up, in order to get a guest thrown out and still get paid.

In your situation an outside camera would have provided the proof you needed to show your guests had brought someone over.

Of course, it is your place and up to you how you manage your listing, but I am sure an inside camera will put some guests off (including myself).

By the way you and your wife’s game playing seems rather juvenile.


Of course you need evidence for your claims, regardless of what they are. Otherwise Air hosts could make stuff up just like guests do.

I’m glad you had a good time but I don’t think it’s a game. I have other things to do, I can’t sit in my living room all morning. If a guest blatantly violated my rules/explicit request I’d be knocking on their door first thing as soon as I looked at the camera footage. Since the camera is disclosed your little game seems just as devious as your guest’s sneakiness. But it’s your house. Your indoor camera is creepy.


True, in this case. But it would have done nothing for our earlier case where a guest exploded our microwave. Plus, it’s not physically possible for us to put a camera outside. There’s no source of electricity out there and our WiFi doesn’t go that far.

But if you have a 5-year track record of never reporting anything like this - and in fact never reporting guests for anything you’d think they could give you some benefit of the doubt. I mean what kind of evidence are people without cameras supposed to provide?

We thoroughly enjoyed forcing the liars and thieves to come clean!

But there is a moral difference. Our game was in pursuit of the truth. Theirs was in furtherance of a lie.

  1. It doesn’t matter what sort of sort of host you are or how long you have been hosting. Evidence needs to be provided. What that would be - would obviously depend on the circumstances.

  2. Your ‘game’ wasn’t in the ‘the pursuit of truth’. You and your wife already knew the guy had stayed over. You have no moral high ground here.

To me your behaviour seems childish and unprofessional - surely you have better things to do with your time.


Wow, look at you. So judgmental @Helsi.


You came on here to boast about your game playing with a guest.

@KKC and I both said we found your game playing with your guest uncomfortable.

If you don’t want people to comment (make judgements) then don’t post on an open forum. Some hosts might find your actions hilarious. I find them childish.

Of course your guests acted badly, once they asked and you said no, that should have been it. but you could have dealt with it in a professional manner rather than a juvenile one.


You think the guest is sneaky and dishonest. I think you’re sneaky and creepy. I don’t think this post casts you in a good light. It’s not just that you have an indoor camera in the common areas, which I’ve previously said is a turn off. It’s the pleasure you take in making your guest uncomfortable and then extorting them for payment as punishment that makes you creepy.

Maybe you should get a job doing undercover security in retail.


Yes, but guests rarely need to provide evidence - only hosts. I do find that imbalance infuriating.

As for @JonYork’s story as a whole, I would not have bothered with the facade either. I would have knocked on the door and said “Hello, our camera has revealed you brought the overnight guest in a 4AM despite being told not to. Airbnb will be calling you, but you have 20 minutes to leave the property.” I don’t think I would let them stay after that, period. Like you said, it was a serious violation. Letting them stay for a measly $50 feels like a slap on the wrist.

I don’t dig the indoor camera either, but if you say it is legal, whatev. But it isn’t a foyer or a hallway. I would not stay in a property with a camera in the living room and kitchen.


What is this statement based on? Your experience? Reading host complaints on this forum? Reading guest brags on a different forum?

edited to add: I don’t doubt that guests get better treatment than hosts but wondering if this belief that Airbnb just believes everything a majority of guests say is accurate.

This forum and my friends who are hosts! A common one is it smells weird, or its noisy, or I feel uncomfortable. No proof required. I have long said that Airbnb takes guests at their word for almost everything. Hosts are held to a higher standard.


While I don’t like the arc of the whole story @JonYork told, I do find the idea that a hosts’ eye witness account of other extra guests on the property not sufficient to be disturbing. The bet the majority of hosts sharing their homes - worldwide - do NOT have cameras. That said, Airbnb is all over the board in what they say to hosts. There’s been at least a couple threads on here about the fact that Airbnb outsources their hotlines - especially during high volume seasons like now - to companies that support multiple services and retailers. Had @JonYork called or emailed at a different time he may not have been told video / photo evidence was necessary.


But @CatskillsGrrl if you read what Airbnb replied @JonYork they didn’t stay they wouldn’t accept a hosts’ eye witness account, just that they required evidence. In this situation John and his wife were there to witness events.

I know of a host who was able to have a guest trip cancelled because they came in to find a guest smoking cannabis in their non smoking listing.

So they can and do take host eye witness accounts.

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I applaud you on all of it and would have done the same! I don’t find your busting manaeuver to be at all childish. The guests deserved it. Clearly I am in the minority.

Glad it turned out well. Do you think you will have them stay another night? Probably NY during Christmas week is going to be sold out. Silly silly girls. Hope whatever they were doing with this doode was worth getting busting and paying up. SMH…

It just shows you what smooth liars guests can be.


Also… let’s remember these guests asked if they could bring a stranger, were told NO and did it anyway like some recalcitrant teenagers. They deserved to be busted badly. My humble opinion.



@JonYork I really enjoyed reading your post and personally I don’t see anything wrong with making these people feel uncomfortable. They intentionally broke your rules and blatantly lied to your face. I can’t stand liars.

I have to ask though, how long would you have sat there in your living room had they not admitted to your friend being there when they did?

I would have loved to be a fly in the wall in their room while they tried to plot their ‘escape’ :joy:



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I think if the girls had come out and fessed up, begging for forgiveness, JY would have been forgiving. Right?

This is gross but When my son worked as an intern on Capitol Hill for one of our senators, he rented a row house on 2nd street. Well it was part of a row house. They had four interns crammed into one small section of the house… probably not bigger than 600 square feet total… and one bathroom. All four interns had to be to work by 8:30. My son confessed once he had to go soooooo bad (could not wait until he got to the senate office building because there is major TSA like security at the entrance) he went downstairs to the laundry room and found a garbage can, and… well. Nature called. At least it had a liner and he was able to make sure it got taken outside to the dumpster.


Ok, your dialogs are cracking me up. You should be writing for sitcoms. You missed your calling.