Holiday Rentals With Hidden Cameras On The Rise, New Data Suggests

"I'm watching you, Wazowski, always watching..."

Holiday Rentals With Hidden Cameras On The Rise, New Data Suggests

Image: The Independent

Amid the convenience and allure of holiday rentals, there lies a disconcerting truth that could shake your confidence before booking your next self-catered escape…

The ever-increasing popularity of vacation home rentals — popularised by multi-million dollar platforms like Airbnb — has opened up new opportunities for travellers seeking unique experiences and for hustling hosts to earn extra income. However, while these rentals might seem like quick, easy, and cost-effective holiday win, there may be hiding a surveillance secret that could add an eery edge to your next scheduled getaway…

A recent study conducted by home security experts Vivint sheds light on the many possible security concerns surrounding vacation rentals. The study surveyed over 406 hosts and 602 guests and, in the process, uncovered some startling data that highlights the potential invasion of holidaymaker privacy and the real cost of unexpected property damages.

WATCH: There might be worse things than a hidden camera… look at these dire AirBnBs.

One of the most unsettling revelations from the study is that one in ten rental hosts admitted to having hidden cameras or microphones in their properties, totally unbeknownst to their guests. For travellers, this poses a significant breach of privacy, with 86% of surveyed guests quite rightly considering it to constitute a massive violation of their personal space. Unsurprisingly, the study also found that such surveillance is enough to deter nearly three-quarters (76%) of guests from staying in a vacation rental.

Furthermore, the study unveiled the grim reality of damages inflicted on rental properties by guests. 40% of hosts have encountered damages caused by guests, with 23% of hosts suspecting that the damage was intentional. On average, these damages amounted to $553 USD per home, presenting a significant financial burden for hosts. In response to these concerns, one in three rental hosts now screen prospective renters via their social media profiles, hoping to identify potentially problematic guests before they book in.

The study also explored rental hosts’ perspectives on guest behaviour. Unsurprisingly, families were ranked as the best guests, while groups of young people were regarded as the least desirable. To safeguard their properties against troublesome youngsters, hosts are investing significantly in alarm systems, regular property inspections, and smart locks with motion-activated lights. However, such measures come at considerable cost, with hosts spending an average of $1,427 USD on property security.

The Barker family went viral in 2019 after having a little fun with a hidden camera they found, as reported by CNN. Image: CNN

With the US and European summer in full swing, the study’s findings raise pertinent questions about the balance between privacy and security in the world of vacation rentals. While hosts seek to protect their properties and provide a safe environment for guests, the presence of hidden cameras or microphones raises massive concerns about privacy infringement. While we’re sympathetic to hosts paying out for damages, people need to remember that this is a highly lucrative business for many of them and — if they’re fortunate enough to own properties to let in the first place — your financial concern for them should remain limited.

Ultimately, the key lies in open communication and transparency between hosts and guests. Building trust and respecting each other’s boundaries can lead to a harmonious experience, ensuring that both hosts and guests can enjoy the benefits of the booming vacation rental industry without compromising their sense of security or privacy.

As the vacation rental market continues to grow, it is crucial for all stakeholders to come together to find a middle ground that fosters trust, respect, and a positive experience for everyone involved… and that means keeping cameras out of the bloody bedrooms.