Airbnb Host Cancels Vacation Rental After Guest Asks About Camera Surveillance

Renee Bushey of Boston's Charlestown neighborhood booked an Airbnb in New Hampshire, and when she asked questions about the security cameras inside the house, she says the host canceled last-minute

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What's your expectation of privacy when you're staying in a vacation rental?

Renee Bushey of Boston's Charlestown neighborhood planned a biking and hiking trip with her family in New Hampshire Memorial Day weekend and found a place to stay on Airbnb.

"I found an old, kind of an old farmhouse. It looked like it had a lot of space," said Bushey. "We were excited to get out of the city for a while."

The house listing included security cameras on the property. Bushey says she assumed they were outside, but learned more after messaging the host.

"She said every area besides the bedroom and the bathroom had cameras in it. I never did get an answer if it included audio and what were they doing with these recordings," said Bushey.

She says the host canceled her reservation at the last minute after she asked whether they could put down a security deposit instead of being monitored via video.

"It's definitely disturbing," Bushey said. "It felt creepy to us. I did not want my family to be recorded for a weekend, but I didn't want my reservation to be canceled just because I asked about it."

Airbnb allows cameras and noise monitoring devices inside your rental, as long as they are clearly disclosed in the listing. They are only permitted in public and common spaces, not bathrooms or bedrooms.

Concealed devices are prohibited and hosts are required to disclose how guests will be monitored and if an active recording is taking place.

"We are very sorry to hear about Renee's experience and glad that our team was able to help her receive a full refund," Airbnb said in a statement to NBC10 Boston. "Host cancellations are rare, but when they happen, our support team is ready to assist with a full refund or rebooking support. Upon learning about this incident, our team followed up with this host regarding accurately representing their listing."

The host has since removed her listing from the site.

NBC10 Boston legal analyst Michael Coyne, who is dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, says consumers should ask questions upfront and also realize they may be giving up some rights to privacy when they agree to the terms of service on a vacation rental app.

"Take a hard look at the user agreement, ask questions with respect to it, and then be vigilant about protecting that privacy," Coyne said, "because the privacy under most of these user agreements is significantly limited, unfortunately."

Bushey says she'll think twice before booking with Airbnb again.

"I understand people want to protect their houses, but I think this just goes too far," she said.

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