Airbnb bans indoor surveillance cameras in short-term rentals

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What you need to know:

  • The short-term rental platform has banned surveillance cameras inside its rental properties worldwide.
  • Hosts will also be required to disclose the presence and general location of any outdoor cameras before guests book.

Short-term rental platform, Airbnb has banned surveillance cameras inside rental properties worldwide effective April 30, a measure it says is aimed at simplifying its policy on security cameras and other devices as it seeks to prioritise customer privacy.

Before this change, the platform allowed owners to have cameras in common areas, such as living rooms, kitchens and hallways, as long as they were disclosed on the listing. Security cameras were not allowed in areas such as bedrooms or bathrooms.

“The update to this policy simplifies our approach and makes clear that security cameras are not allowed inside listings, regardless of their location, purpose, or prior disclosure,” it said in a statement on its website.

Airbnb will also revise its policy to effect more comprehensive rules on the use of outdoor security cameras and other devices, including noise decibel monitors.

The platform says that devices such as doorbell cameras and noise decibel monitors will continue to be permitted noting that they can be an effective, privacy-protective way for hosts to monitor security for their home and get ahead of issues like unauthorised parties.

However, hosts will be required to disclose the presence and general location of any outdoor cameras before guests book.

These cameras will also be prohibited from monitoring indoor spaces of a listing and are not allowed in certain outdoor areas where there’s a greater expectation of privacy, such as an enclosed outdoor shower or sauna.

In Kenya, the directive comes at a time when safety concerns have been raised following incidents of brutal murders inside the short-term rental facilities, where at least two women have been reported killed in recent months.

The cases have since prompted local authorities to review regulatory rules, with all Airbnb investors in Nairobi now being required to present and register their businesses and provide all relevant documentation to the Tourism Regulatory Authority before an operating licence can be issued.

Most of the properties listed on Airbnb are located in middle-class locations within Nairobi, including Kilimani, Parklands, Kileleshwa, Westlands, Lavington, Yaya, and Valley Arcade.

The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife had late last year put Airbnb operators on notice saying that out of 40,000 listed homes, only 400 had registered with the Tourism Fund.