Video Surveillance Cameras, necessary evil?

I have 4 exterior surveillance cameras plus a ring video doorbell. While I have guests I’ll occasionally look at my video feeds to make sure there aren’t any parties going on and to keep a rough head count of the number of guests. I allow up to 6 guests, charging extra for guests numbers 5 and 6. I have guests sneaking in extra guests quite often. Sometimes if it’s just one extra guest, I ignore it. I do allow visitors IF it’s prearranged with me me and it’s just a few people.
I recently had 4 people book my home over the 4th. of July holiday. I was concerned that my guests might have a party, so I checked the cameras and Ring history. There had been no mention of visitors dropping by. When I saw 5 people coming out of the front door, none of them being the original guests, I assumed the worst. I sent a text directly to their cell phone telling them I knew there were several additional people there and that they had to leave immediately. This was after I tried texting via the app and calling them but getting no answer.
They finally replied and told me those were all brothers and sisters and that they had already left.
They went on to complain that it was an invasion of privacy and were very upset that I was watching them. It went down hill from there.
So, I just want to know how you feel about surveillance video cameras. Do you have them and how do you use them? How do you determine how many people are staying at your Airbnb. Obviously, if you rent out a room or are staying on the premises, it’s different.
I disclose the fact that I have them…

Ah, they are blaming the victim! I would write back:

“The security cameras (which are fully disclosed per Airbnb rules) are in place because – and I know this is hard for responsible guests to believe – some guests actually try to bring in extra people without paying for them, sometimes exceeding the guest limit. As a reminder, the house rules do require advance notice and pre-approval for day visitors. The reason is there are some guests that will actually try to have a party, which is against Airbnb rules and could get the listing shut down. Will your brothers and sisters be returning?”


That’s pretty much what I said. Our text messages went back and forth for some time. Get this, they said they had read that there were surveillance cameras but they didn’t think that they would be watched. They even covered my Ring camera, it’s recorded.

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I think it’s funny that it’s almost always “my fellow Americans” complaining about surveillance cameras. Go to the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain… there are CCTV cameras everywhere. Law abiding people there largely ignore them; criminals have to work extra hard to get around they. Stupid criminals are caught by them. It’s a win-win situation and no one’s privacy is invaded – if you’re doing something ‘wrong’ do it in the privacy of your own home!.


You are correct. Btw I think here is the USA are as many, we just do it quietly.

My neighborhood has cameras at the gate & dumpster for a multitude of reasons.

The ONLY people complaining & shouting about privacy are the ones who placed uncollectible items and were charged for the extra collection fees

The other complainer was the fool who drove through the gate, breaking it & was charged the $2,000 for the repair.


One of my pet peeves are inflated concerns about privacy. There are real concerns but for decades the legal standard in the US is that anything “in plain view” isn’t private. Even a back yard with a high wall isn’t private. If a neighbor looks out their back window and sees your guests having a party and calls you, the guests’ privacy hasn’t been “invaded.”

Cameras aren’t a “necessary evil.” They are a ubiquitous feature of modern life and the use of video recording is sometimes good, sometimes bad. Sometimes it depends on perspective. I think they are awesome for catching bad behavior, including by the police. The people getting caught never like it.


If they covered your door camera I would have told them to uncover it or I would have Airbnb cancel their stay @Paulcalif

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It does seem to be the case :grin:

You can’t fix stupid - cameras that you wouldn’t watch, lol

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Yes—87 yr old dad & I had a conversation that the abundance of phones & ability to record & share in real time or later will do more to effectively hold people accountable for their actions than ever before.

Yeah that only works when you’re not four police officers charging somebody with passing a $20 bill. Seriously, passively watching people on camera doing their actions without you responding to it hoping that they’ll be contrite when they suddenly see a camera is pretty foolish.

Rolf, do you really believe most people would be better off to just intervene? Especially when police are involved?

Regardless, I agree with Anne, cameras everywhere are going to make things better. Maybe not overnight, and certainly not all the time. If not for Darnella Frazier having the guts to film the entire murder of George Floyd, Chauvin would be a free man today. He might even still be a Minneapolis LEO.


I live in an area where some pretty tough looking people live. I had a big party at my house, 50 plus people. I saw it on my video cameras and called the police. I also called Airbnb which was a total waste of time. I was just looking for advice but they offered none. Bounced me around the support merri-go-round for months. I put in a claim just shy of $2000 along with video, pictures, neighbor statements etc. Was told, That’s not enough"
Did get $150 in the “end”.
Anyway, I digress

Without the cameras, I would not have known the magnitude of the party, thank goodness I had them.

The police weren’t much help either, they came 3 times, yet the party went on until 6AM.

Members here suggested that I should have kicked them out myself. I’m an old guy but even in my prime I wouldn’t take on at least 30 biker looking dudes that were intoxicated.

Bottom line, we are at risk, and you better have insurance. Airbnb coverage was literally worthless.

Since then I’ve made changes. Raised my prices, require 3 night minimum, no instant booking, have communication with potential guests where I lay down my rules. And now they must have at least one review and all of their reviews must be good.
I’m going to be losing guests, but I think it will be worth it.

I’ll keep using the cameras and feeling much less guilty for their use based on all of your advice.



That’s just what I was going to say!

Yes, people go on about this far too much and too often. There are some real things going on in the world and if people want to worry about something they should worry about those, especially the ones who bang on about privacy concerns yet live their lives on facebook.

Long story but several years ago an idiot John Belushi lookalike was prancing about outside my apartment in his underpants at 7.30am. I decided to video him (and his extremely bad language) and as soon as he saw me he quickly disappeared. :slight_smile:


That was an awful event. Thank goodness the 17 year old girl had the presence of mind to record it. I believe without the recording, no one would have been held accountable


I didn’t see that spin coming.

We use the tools we have available to us.

Of course I like to think I would try to intervene if I saw a child being abducted or something else awful occurring.

Sometime due to distance or circumstances a recording is the best tool at hand. We should use it

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A contrary opinion here, not directed at hosts protecting their property assets but about surveillance in general.

My opinion is that the benefits need to balanced against the privacy costs. We have the positive of recording, and deterring, criminals and crimes.

But what about the negatives? What happens when parties with bad intent – and I am including authoritarian states here – have access to extensive information on your location, movements and actions? For example, how much less successful would the French Resistance have been under the current-day surveillance umbrella?

What types of surveillance and tracking have been used when dissidents have been attacked or assassinated outside of their countries of origin?

On a lesser scale, there have been occasions where individuals with access to tracking information (such as law enforcement) have used it to target and stalk victims.

Also, it used to be much easier for a person (not talking about about escaping justice for a crime here) to leave their mistakes behind or escape a toxic environment and start a new life by geographically relocating. Now your history is more likely to follow you by having been recorded and being accessible to others.

Good point on people’s willingness use of Facebook, Ring, Alexa, etc. apps and devices. We are not the consumer; we are the product, voluntarily providing our personal data. For law enforcement (presumably a “good” use), consumer marketing targeting (hmmm, less “good”), organizations doxxing their ideological opponents (probably a “bad” use), etc.

Surveillance technology is a tool that can be used for good or ill, one which I would argue has insufficient legal guardrails to date. It is important to consider the trade-offs, and the value of “the right to be forgotten.”

Some of the discussion here reminds me of the statement, “If you’re innocent, you don’t need a lawyer.” If you haven’t done anything wrong, you don’t need protections. My life is an open book; I have nothing to hide. I think things can go sideways in some pretty horrible ways under those assumptions.


It’s ok to lose guests you don’t want anyway.

Yes there are hosts on this forum who are successful with multitudes of 1 night bookings. My respect to them. That is not my cup of tea.

I decided years ago, hotels are designed for short stays, not me. It’s ok if I lose those rentals.


As my place is a vacation rental that I too use, I just tell people that the camera is there for “our security and yours”. Thats all they need to know.

In the case of the recent Peeping Tom, I told them that I was getting tons of alerts due to the excessive activity at the front door, which is how I caught the guy in the act.

I don’t think I even needed to tell them that, but I was just downplaying the fact that I was spending so much time checking he camera.

Ok, well thought out opinion. I get it, but without video Surveillance on our Airbnb’s, how are we to protect our homes?

I’m open to all suggestions and opinions.

I disclose that I monitor my home with video Surveillance video cameras. If I were concerned with being observed and recorded, I would avoid visiting my home as a guest.

I really appreciate your opinion and I welcome a well thought out solution to this dilemma. It would be great to not have to relie on cameras.