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Did I just dodge a bullet, or did I overreact?

Yesterday afternoon I was taking a break from cleaning one of the AirBnBs and noticed something. I was sitting in the living room, eating lunch and watching HGTV, and suddenly I noticed the motion detector in the entry hall.

This house is an entire house AirBnB and it’s the house my husband and I lived in after we got married. When we bought the house it had an ADT security system already in place with door alarms on all three entry doors and a motion detector in the front hall. The system was a hard wired system, installed sometime in the 1990s. We never had it monitored by ADT, though we did use the system from time to time. At some point we quit using it entirely, unplugged it, and removed the back up battery.

So back to yesterday—for the first time in a long time I noticed the motion detector in the hallway. It’s not disclosed in our Airbnb listing description. I don’t know if a motion detector would be considered a surveillance device or not, but it is inside the house, though it has not been functional for years.

I began to wonder if someone might mistake it for a camera. So today I had it removed. None of the AirBnB guests or Non-AirBnB guests have ever mentioned it or expressed any concerns about it. I don’t know if that’s because they knew what it was, or if it’s because it just didn’t bother them, or if they just didn’t notice it, but whatever the case, I’m feeling like I dodged a bullet in having it removed.

What do y’all think? Was it an overreaction or a smart move to take it out? Even if it wouldn’t be considered a surveillance device (and I’m not sure if it is or not), I was worried about some clueless guest mistaking it for a camera…

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As an Australian I wouldn’t know what that was… but it looks like it could be a camera…

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I think you were smart to remove it.

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When I bought the house that is now my listing, it had one of those positioned above the entry door just like that. I removed it because the security system was not functional and because it was an eyesore. It was originally installed in the mid '90s. The plastic had turned a yellow-beige color like old computer equipment.

Anyway, I would expect lots of homes to have outdoor lights with motion detection or motion sensing night-lights and I wouldn’t expect that they would be classified as surveillance.

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We have motion detector equipped floodlights in the back yard. The interior motion detector worried me though because of the chance of someone thinking it was a camera and reporting me to AirBnB. I was thinking of what happened to the host who got delisted for having a rubber dog toy pistol that the guest mistook for the real thing.

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Yeah, but a guest could think an A/C outlet or a smoke detector is a hidden camera, too (both already exist). BTW, motion sensors with hidden cameras exist, too.

Wow, I didn’t know that…so I guess it’s good I did remove the darn thing. I guess I’m just lucky no guest has ever noticed or been concerned about it!

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I think you were wise to remove it. I’m assuming guests didn’t notice it but good to get rid of just in case a future guest complaints about it to Airbnb.

There are reports of guests reporting that there were cameras in listings that weren’t disclosed. There is debate over whether things like an echo dot or google home are listening devices. Even guests complaining about things that are disclosed will get you suspended while they “investigate.” So I’d have removed it as well.

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A UK guest probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelid, these alarm sensors are common and the assumption would likely have been made that it is what it looks like, part of a home security set up.

Interestingly, I’ve been looking at how to reduce our heating/AC costs. One device looks exactly like that, but instead of monitoring for an alarm, it monitors for movement and if there is none it switches the AC unit off. Undecided as to whether we’ll go for them just now.

JF

If you do, you might want to call it out in your listing description to CYA.

Yeah, you’re probably right. Still conflicted about fitting these gizmos though, the feedback I’ve read from guests on a few travel forums isn’t good. I wouldn’t want to run the risk of bad reviews just to save a few euros.

JF

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Does this mean the A/C would go off overnight as people sleep? It is too hot in the summer in my location to do that. I would have very unhappy guests.

One solution could be a thermostat like a Nest. You can program it for hours at particular temperatures, or you can control it from your phone to turn it up or down, as appropriate. You could, for example, change the temperature every night at 10 or 11 PM and then again in the morning at 6 or 7 AM. Or you could adjust it at any time. Whatever seems best to you.

No. It is possible to program in periods of time when the sensor isn’t active.

JF

If it’s not something that you ever use, then it’s a no brainer to remove it. It shows that you are a risk adverse, insightful host.

I have a 3 year old home and have a similar looking “motion detector”, albeit a little smaller / flatter. I’ve attached a picture of mine (magnified); It is positioned above an operable window in the bedroom of my guest house, and is integrated to an active security alarm system that is only turned on when when there are no guests and I am away. I’ve never had quests question it, but if they did, it would be a simple answer. I just assume anyone familiar with alarm systems would be familiar with this type of device.

While I do disclose the four (4) exterior security cameras that I have on the property I don’t think it’s required to disclose this motion detector because it’s 1. not a camera nor microphone, and 2. its not active when guests are present… With that said, after seeing your post, I may add a small description in my house rules to offset any potential future concerns.

EDIT: I added this verbiage to my house rules:

"There is a ‘motion detection device’ positioned above the operable window in the guest house bedroom. This device has no video, photo, or microphone capabilities and is NOT active while guests are present. It is only active when the security alarm is engaged. It is being disclosed herein, in case there was any question as to what the device might be. "

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I saw on one of the fb host forums that someone was delisted because a guest reported an undisclosed camera and it was an older version roku.

I think you made a good choice removing it.

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Jeez. I guess taking guests on a tour at check in and going over every thing that could be misconstrued is a good idea? Or you just hope for the best?

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Seems like these days a lot of people are paranoid about privacy issues and surveillance. Some guests seem to be the type to jump first and ask questions later, which could get a host in hot water for sure.

In one of our apartments we have a little storage area under the stairs. My husband calls it “the Harry Potter closet” (I haven’t read Harry Potter but maybe some of you will get the joke). We put an Orbi in there, it’s similar to a wi-fi extender and a lock on the door. But because of all these issues with guests and surveillance stuff, I put a note on the Orbi that says: “Hi guest, thanks for breaking into the closet. This is an Orbi. Please google it. It’s the reason you have internet access on the first floor. It does not monitor or surveil anything whatsoever. We’d appreciate if you now contacted us with any concerns you may have.” My husband gave me a hard time about it but I sleep better at night :rofl:

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