Guest unplugs security cams that are disclosed in listing

Level 2
Big Bear Lake, CA

Guest unplugs security cams that are disclosed in listing

We have security cams at our home that we AirBnB. Some college age guests arrived and within 5 minutes disconnected the cams, but only after they texted me to ask why there is a locked door upstairs. To say the least this made us extremely nervous about their intent.


If they would have read the listing, they would have noticed that we have our bedroom door, a closet under the stairs and a liquor cabinet locked because we live there and these are where our personal items are located.   


I waited 24 hours to let them know they needed to plug back in the cams that were disclosed in the listing. I even called to speak with the gal who rented our home and her boyfriend answered the phone and proceeded to give me a ration of s**t about the cams, they are illegal, they are being recorded...etc. He wanted to Facetime with me so I could see they are not having a party with people there. I declined and asked them to plug the cams back in.


Airbnb got involved and they finally plugged them back in but they are so askew that we cannot view anything on our deck where the entrance to the front door is located.


Neighbors texted me to let me know they have more than the two people (paid only for two guests) at the house. 


The guest called me back and stated that she wanted a free night or a substantial discount because this cam thing ruined their night (at that point they had been there two nights and have one more to go.)


She even went as far as to say that they will write a bad review if I don't give her a discount.


At this point, my husband and I just want them out of the house before they do any damage to the home.


Does anyone have any experience with a situation like this?


Thanks in advance,





17 Replies 17
Level 10
Bristol, United Kingdom

They sound awful, but why did you wait 24 hours before asking for the cams to be switched back on and why haven't you challenged them being turned away from the decking.


Call Airbnb now and point out in your Airbnb messaging the guests have threatened poor review if you don't discount.


As experienced superhosts I am sure you will already thought of this. I  would contact Airbnb now referring them to the airbnb messaging where the guest threatens you with a bad review unless they get a discount. Tell them your neighbours have confirmed that more than two are staying. Insist you want them to cancel as the guests are making you uncomfortable because of their threats and response to your clearly indicated cams and they fact they have deliberately trained them away from your decking area.


In the meantime you or your cohost need to get out there so when Airbnb cancels the book you can be there at check out to make sure you record the property and can see if there has been any damage.

Level 10
Long Beach, CA

@Lorren0 I don't have experience with cameras, but I do have experience with guests who will use every excuse in the book to get a discount. 


Your best recourse is to make sure that you communicate with the guest via the Airbnb site, so there is documentation. Even if they text you. If they text or call you, then type up the conversation as best as you can recall in a "just to confirm our conversation" Airbnb site entry. 


"Per our conversation about the security cameras - they are noted in the description of our listing. They are there for your safety and our protection. Also described in our listing are the areas that are off limits to guests, located behind locked doors."


"It has been mentioned by our neighbors that they have witnessed more than 2 guests on the premises. Your reservation specifically stated 2 guests. I have submitted a reservation modification reflecting this change." 


"I'm sorry you feel you've been misled, but all this information is included in the description."


Also, it is not illegal to have security cameras on your property in California, or in your home as long as their location does not intrude where there is reasonable expectation of privacy. This would be rooms such as bedrooms and bathrooms. 


AND, reviews go both ways. When it comes time to reviewing these guests, make sure you do NOT recommend (thumbs down!), and explain why. While a bad review is hard to get rid of,  you can respond to their review on your page. If all of this is documented on the Airbnb site, then Airbnb might side with you and erase the review. 


I also agree with @Helen3 about contacting airbnb re the threat of a bad review. 


Hope this helps, and good luck. 

Level 10
Long Beach, CA

@Lorren  I've never had an issue with security cameras, but I have had issues with guests trying anything they can to get money back. 


It is really important to make sure that all of your communications with your guest are documented in the Airbnb site. If conversations happen outside of the site, then make sure to send a confirmation of the details of the conversation through the site. 


"Per our phone conversation, I explained that the security cameras were mentioned in the description of the listing and are there for your security and our protection. Also in the description were the mention of private areas with no guest access separated by locked doors."


"I received a message from my neighbors indicating that there are more than two guests. As this reservation was for two guests only, I have submitted a reservation modification."


In California, it is not illegal to have security cameras on your property. It is illegal (privacy laws) to film or surveille areas that a person could reasonable assume privacy, like bedrooms & bathrooms. 


Also, reviews work both ways. Please, for the sake of all other hosts, do NOT leave this person a good review! And do not recommend them either. After documenting all your conversations with this guest, I would do what @Helen3 recommended and contact Airbnb and explain you’re being extorted by your guest for a good review.


Good luck. 

Level 10
Sayulita, Mexico

@Lorren0  And if the threat of a bad review was by phone or a text message to your phone number, rather than an Airbnb message,  back it up right now with a site message to the guests- "So, xxx, did I understand you correctly on the phone when you told me you would leave a bad review if you didn't receive a discount?"

@Lorren0. In the unlikely chance the bad review “threat” was in a text message, I would take a screenshot, that shows the date, then send it to Airbnb, and probably send it to the guests, stating threats and blackmail are not acceptable.

Level 2
Big Bear Lake, CA

UPDATE:  I didn't think anything initially regarding the cams because sometimes depending on what devices they bring into the house to use on wifi...the cams can drop signal. I have an August Home Lock, a Roku TV, and three cams operating.


After they told me that they weren't going to plug the cams back on, I contacted Airbnb and explained the situation. The guest also told Airbnb that she was worried that someone would come into the house; duh, we as hosts do have the right to enter the property. I am 300 miles and a boat ride away from my second home. I told the guest that she need not worry and to use the doorknob as another safety lock while she was inside. Then the messages from the guest and Airbnb poured in, ruined my night with my husband and the spilled into the next morning.  


I deactivated her digital key. And by 6 am,  I requested to Airbnb that the guests find other accommodation for their final night since they were so concerned and had trust issues. Obviously, our place was not for her as beautifully decorated as it is. 


The guest tried to call me in the am, but by then I was done with this drama. Airbnb acknowledged my request and in the coming hours asked me if I could speak to the guest again and come to an agreement to let her stay in the house.


I stood my ground, "I want them out now." Then Airbnb told me that they were trying to find another place to stay and would I like to give the guest a 50 % discount on their final night. WHAT!? I said "NO!"


The guest finally left after 2 pm. They did break one of the cameras, but after I let a friend in to view the place ... it was his first time in our home, said nothing looked savaged.


My housecleaner will be in tomorrow morning and I will be there by tomorrow afternoon...then I can see any damage or missing items.


Thank you for all your input...if I have any updates, I will post again. 


Yes, You should always echo any kind of conversation through the airbnb messanger.


Level 10
Westcliffe, CO

@Lorren0 How awful and sorry you've had to go through this!  We have one exterior camera, and have never had a problem. It is fully disclosed in the listing, in my pre-approval message and in my pre-arrival message. 


The only thing, which is kind of funny is that several of the guests wave at the camera, but have never had any issues with guests trying to disable it. 

Level 10
Placencia, Belize

1. Best to only communicate with guest via Airbnb message system.

2. Beware of young guests (i.e. 'college-age')

3. Doubly cautious in selecting guests if one will be far away and not on site.

Level 2
London, United Kingdom

What a horrid experience for you.  I always play it very safe and never take guests without several good reviews.  I know people need some airnbn bookings to get the reviews but I don't feel able to be the one to take the risks.  Sounds a bit selfish but as a single person I need to protect myself. 

Level 10
Pamplemousses, Mauritius

@Lorren0 I have CCTV camera around my property but not inside.I once caught some guests who paid for 2 but ended up with a group of 5.I made them paid for each extra guests after i showed them the video.Guests will always try to fool around i would advice you to use more discreet cameras and also hide the hard disk where the video is being recorded.This is your property and you must protect it the best you can.Good luck and happy hosting!!!

Hi Lorren,


My rental is in Big Bear too!  I have cameras on the front and back of my cabin-- they're disclosed in my listing and one of my House Rules is "no tamerping with the cameras."  I've never had anyone unplug one (they'd need a ladder to reach them) but I have had a guest try to sneak an unauthorized pet into my cabin and get caught on camera.  I have a house manager/ handyman in Big Bear that I call for emergencies like this and he was able to get to my cabin a few minutes after they brought the pet into my house to ask them to leave.  Let me know if you need a house manager (he's not a rental property manager so he doesn't take a percentage, just a flat fee per visit.)  


One tip I learned is to not tolerate any rule breaking-- I allowed the guests who tried to sneak a pet into my cabin to stay for a few hours while they tried to find another rental.  As a result, they were able to write me a review... which was bad.  (I contacted Airbnb after they left the review and they took it down.) But I learned that I should have asked them to leave immediatly and report them right away to Airbnb for having broken my House Rules so they wouldn't show up as ever having been my guests.  


Also, I know that the internet on the mountain can get slow or go down so a downed camera might not always be an indicator that it was actually tampered with.  I keep an extra, live camera inside my trailer (which isn't accessible to guests.)   That way I distinguish between the internet being down and tampering.  


Hope this helps.  

Level 10
Seattle, WA


You read these people right.

Anytime a guest complains about "trust" issues, there is only one choice - get rid of them.

I just had a guest who said "I don't feel safe"

I offered her that first night for free, if she would leave the next day.

She did not take me up on the offer, so her safety was not so important 


"What you are doing is illegal"

"I don't feel comfortable"

"You can't do that"

"You ruined my vacation"

All these are manipulations which should never be entertained.

Sorry you had to deal with these losers.

Level 10
Darwin, Australia

Hi @Lorren0@Paul154 has got it in one!

(Thanks Paul: My tongue in cheek responses refer to caring and good hosts, who have the guest and the asset equal in their business plan.)    But when the hairs on your neck begin to rise....... 


What you are doing is illegal".  

        Translates...... Guest: I might be interested in illegal or anti social      activities. Don’t watch me! 

"I don't feel comfortable"              

        Translates......  Host: Now you’re making me uncomfortable... be gone...

"You can't do that".                          

        Translates......  Host:  my house, my rules... oh yes I can! !!

"You ruined my vacation".            

        Translates......  Host: not as much as you are ruining my hosting experiences and trust in human nature!


🤪 Cathie