This is where some Airbnb hosts have been spying on you, and why it will stop

The Airbnb app icon.
Airbnb says it’s banning the use of indoor security cameras in listings around the world by the end of next month.
(Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

Airbnb is banning all use of indoor security cameras in its listings worldwide beginning next month, reversing a longstanding policy that allowed homeowners to peek in on guests in common areas, the company announced this week.

The company said in a statement Monday that most listings on Airbnb do not have a security camera, so the update in policy isn’t expected to affect many rentals on the platform. The policy change, which takes effect on April 30, is meant to simplify rules on cameras and prioritize guests’ privacy, according to the statement.

The company has allowed indoor security cameras in places like hallways and living rooms as long as they were disclosed as part of the listing before a guest booked the property. Cameras have always been prohibited in bedrooms and bathrooms.


Last year, an Airbnb guest at a luxury studio in Brentwood refused to check out after her scheduled stay ended. She hasn’t paid rent in more than 500 days.

Oct. 4, 2023

“Our goal was to create new, clear rules that provide our community with greater clarity about what to expect on Airbnb,” Juniper Downs, the company’s head of community policy and partnerships, said in a statement. “These changes were made in consultation with our guests, hosts and privacy experts, and we’ll continue to seek feedback to help ensure our policies work for our global community.”

It is not clear what prompted this change. However, privacy in short-term rentals has been a hot topic of discussion for years. Guests have long posted on public forums about feeling uneasy after finding cameras in common areas of homes where the devices were not disclosed.

Secret cameras have become so ubiquitous in short term rentals that Saturday Night Live this month featured a “camera in the toilet” in a spoof on Airbnb interior designs.

The squatters made a fake lease agreement and put bicycle locks over several doors, according to the real estate agents who recounted the ordeal.

Feb. 27, 2024

Doorbell cameras and noise decibel monitors will continue to be permitted under the new policy. Airbnb described such devices in a news release as an “effective, privacy-protective way for hosts to monitor security for their home and get ahead of issues like unauthorized parties.” Under the new policy, hosts will be required to disclose the presence and location of the outdoor cameras before guests book the property. The cameras also can’t monitor any outdoor areas where there’s an expectation of privacy, such as an outdoor shower or sauna.

Guests will also need to be told about any decibel monitors, which are only allowed in common areas of homes, before they book the property, according to the company.