An Airbnb guest recently posted about her experience with hidden cameras on TikTok, which has amounted to over 1.3 million views. TikTok user Lyssiemento explained her story in two parts; where she booked an Airbnb with her friends in a familiar area located in her old college town. The guest had checked the reviews ahead of time and thought everything “checked out” before booking it.
Things started to get strange when Lyssiemento reached out to the host for the check-in information for her registered friend arriving earlier, but the host didn’t have the information. She was advised to call the property manager for the details, but the property manager refused to give the code until her friend arrived at the property.
@lyssiemento Replying to @Lyssiemento pt 2 of hidden cameras in the #airbnb ♬ original sound – Lyssiemento
Her friend was finally able to get into the property (after initially being given the incorrect code) and sensed something was off when she began exploring the accommodation. The guest then received two text messages asking her to “take her sneakers off,” and this was when Lyssiemento realized her friend was being watched. The listing provided a rule for no shoes in the house, but the friend had kept her sneakers on. Lyssiemento caught on quickly that there must have been a camera because the property manager specified “sneakers” not shoes, claiming that “maybe it’s the true crime in me.”
The guest continued to scan the property for hidden cameras and found a hidden one in the bedroom and another one behind a sheer curtain in the living room. Although the Airbnb listing said that the property contained outdoor cameras, there was no mention of cameras inside the house.
Despite Controversy, Cameras Are Allowed
Unfortunately, this instance is not an isolated incident, as there are other reports of Airbnb guests coming across hidden cameras in their accommodations. Although Airbnb lists its camera policies on its website, the line is often blurred, and ownership is put on the host to be truthful and to provide clear and accurate information about the cameras’ locations. This can be a concern for travelers choosing Airbnb as their accommodation.
According to Airbnb, hidden security cameras are not permitted, especially if they are intentionally concealed, but they are allowed if you follow the platform’s policies on location and how to disclose them. For example, cameras are not permitted in private spaces such as sleeping areas and bathrooms. Airbnb asks that hosts “describe each device, its location, and if it will be off or on” in a host’s listing, but not all hosts comply with this, and many give vague descriptions.
Hidden Cameras Violate Airbnb’s Policy
In Lyssiemento’s case, none of the cameras were disclosed besides the outdoor one. Once they were able to share a picture of the camera’s location with Airbnb support, the situation quickly escalated Airbnb offered to pay for their hotel and refund the first part of their trip, and the second half was given after the investigation concluded. Although Lyssiemento got a full refund since the host broke a policy, she noted that she has “seen other listings from the same property management company.”
You might be surprised to find that suspended properties can still make a comeback. Despite violations occurring, the hosts may not be banned from the platform entirely. When a violation has occurred, Airbnb will carry out an investigation and suspend the listing until the host has rectified the situation. Since Airbnb does not have anyone to physically check the cameras have been removed, they would need to take the host’s word for it.
What Are Your Rights When Policies Are Violated
Aircover is a protection plan included on Airbnb that protects both hosts and guests. If you find that your host has violated one of Airbnb’s policies, such as hidden cameras or other things, such as the accommodation not being as advertised, you have 72 hours to report the problem.
As the website states, Airbnb will figure out the next steps and if the issue is covered by Aircover, they’ll make it right, “either by finding you another home or giving you a refund.” You’ll just want to make sure you’re documenting the issue through Airbnb’s proper channels. Make sure you follow these tips to help ensure you get the issue sorted, and you get a full refund:
- Keep communication between you and the host on the app so Airbnb support can quickly assess the situation.
- Collect evidence of the violation. If you notice hidden security cameras, make sure you take close-up images as well as wide images of their location so Airbnb support can clearly see the violation of its policy
- Airbnb offers support 24/7 for its guests, so get in contact with them as soon as possible (within 72 hours) to resolve the issue
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com