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I recently notified a guest that they introduced 5 more people into the house that was in the contract and they abused the furniture causing additional depreciation, he denied it until I told him about the cameras I have in the home and I can provide proof. He flipped!!! He threatened me with a lawsuit for violating his privacy, but I am glad I have proof to deduct the damages from the deposit. At this point he has been calling me demaning his full deposit back, which I will not. Any suggestions on how to deal with this?
You have every right to deduct from the deposit if the guest brings additional people overnight to the home than authorized in the contract. The video serves as additional proof.
I don't know how to measure "additional depreciation", could you explain?
How many cameras do you have? You kept a copy of the video?
After learning about the location of the cameras, I am taking back my recommendation. Message was edited by: gabriel
Yes, I have copies of the videos in case this guy takes me to court. I saw them dancing on the dining room table, obviously he wouldn't do this at his home. I have four cameras to keep an eye on any violations.
I can see why you are so upset, I would be too if they used my tables to dance. Definitely this guest did not behave correctly. But how do you estimate additional depreciation?
Where do you have the cameras?
I charged him 50% of the cost of my dining room table.I will have to create a reserve to repair or replace it.
Where do you have the cameras?
I have one by the front door, another by the pool, a third one in the living/dining room.
Where is the fourth camera?
Hi gabriel. How did you do that...the "crossing out" ?
The option is right above the text when you create a post, after BOLD italic Underline Scatch Out.
I did not want to delete my original comment because with the limited information provided, charging for additional guests is the right thing to do, but after seeing the big picture, avoiding larger legal issues become more important than a few bucks. So I left it crossed out so people would read further and realize the big picture (or big video).
You had a camera inside without his knowledge?? I'm guessing that is not legal. I would be furious if I was a renter and was videotaped!!! I think you have larger worries of him suing you for invasion of privacy.
I like the way he's not telling you where the cameras are. This is so disturbing to me that an owner of a vacation rental has interior cameras. If you have exterior cameras, that's one thing but interior. This is wrong and is a violation of someone's privacy.
Most likely you will get in big trouble for having cameras in the house. It's like a cop trying to do a search and seize without a warrant, it will just get tossed out as evidence and you are looking at a law suit.
Why do you think that cameras are not allowed in dressing rooms or hotel rooms? Would you like to be caught on camera?
I relize what he was doing was in violation of your contract and your sanity, I would go nuts to if some **** was dancing on my table with 5 buddie not invited. But it's no reason not to know the law and one's right to privacy. Hello running around naked!
You can get all of the information you need by maintaining cameras on the exterior of the unit as this can be for their security as well as yours. You will know that there are uninvited guests, car license plates, in the event of a robbery, you may have recourse, it's a win/win.
But, if you want to save your butt, I would get rid of thoes interior camers really quick and give him all of his money back ASAP. This is a crime and you will get destroyed.
I hope you are not posting the videos on the internet or using them for personal use...
Please, where is the fourth camera?
Well....we can be helpful ...without being demanding in "red/bold". "Please" works....but ...actually he doesn't have to tell you or us where the camera is. Seems like he sincerely did not know it was not only wrong but unlawful....he came to the forum to ask a question...w/o realiziing his wrong doing. I think petegm received the main message here...and he will now have to choose how to proceed to right this incident. We can only hope.
I think he clearly knows his wrong doing....that's why he's not saying where the 4th camera is.
Anja, You are right, thank you for pointing that out. I edited my comment to regular font. I was very concerned and overreacted.
Hi petegm. I agree with the others...and I would refund him, full....and quickly. I would also apologize to him, as well, for not informing him prior to his reservation. You owe him that. And, you need to "calm him down"....from over reacting and involving the authorities...or civil liberty groups...who knows where and how far he will go to "win" his point. It's not clear what your location is....USA or outside...but if your property is within the US, you should review privacy laws first for your State ...and then the Federal Law. I'm not a lawyer and you probably are not either...but it's common knowledge that filming people in places where there is an expectation of "privacy" is unlawful....especially if they are not informed, in advance, that the place is under indoor surveillance. That's why it's unlawful to use cameras inside dressing rooms, hotel rooms, public bathrooms, locker rooms and shower stalls in public places. Outdoor security surveillance is different. And private home is not an exception if the home is offered to the public for rent. So, unless you told the guests that the property has indoor surveillance...i.e., in the rental agreement...or verbally...and unless they agreed ...and you have their signatures on a contract that sets this out....the guy could make a case of this, against you. Don't let this go that far. Retaining his rent, making him more angry is not worth the grief he may decide to haul your way. P.S. I would remove the indoor cameras in any case because no one will want to rent your place with the foreknowledge their privacy is not protected when they think that they are "at home" relaxing. Everyone, including you, has the right to privacy inside our "domains"...whether we own them or rent them.
We have security cameras installed on the exterior of our rental home. Each State has different rules in place regarding cameras. In our area, If cameras are installed you must be able to prove that they are in place for "security" reasons. If they are installed inside they should never be installed in a private area like a washroom or bedroom or change area thus violating a persons "right to privacy". In my opinion and experience, there is no reason to have camera's installed inside your property as exterior installation will give you everything your need in the event of a break in. To have camera's installed inside your residence requires full dislosure to non residents of the said property.
Our neighbour's home was broken into a short while ago, and because one of our front yard camera's takes in his driveway, we were able to go through the tapes (which records up to 14 days) and we saw the intruders on camera. Our neighbors as well as the police were delighted to have the evidence to assist in catching the thieves. I believe our house was not violated because the camera's are in full view of anyone entering the property. This is the true reason for having a "security camera".
I've seen similar posts about cameras in the entryway - Not quite so disturbing - to verify intruders, that the cleaning staff appeared, etc. I'd be interested in knowing whether you told your guests there were cameras in the home and where they were located, i.e., did you mention it in your rental contract anywhere? To some extent, I think our guests deserve quiet enjoyment and use of our properties. If you previously told him about the cameras, I think you're okay to withhold some of the deposit for ACTUAL DAMAGE - not to create a "reserve" for future damage! If you didn't mention the cameras, you may have some issues to contend with....
Petegm, I take back the original recommendation to charge for additional guests.
After learning about the location of your cameras, and in agreement with the rest of the other bloggers, refund 100% of the deposit, apologize for the inconvenience and immediately remove the cameras in private areas, such as living room or the "Unknown location" of the fourth camera. I would also remove the camera of the pool unless it is a public pool. Review important legal and privacy issues in previous posts.
Guests have the right to their privacy.
One last thing. Completely delete the copies of the videos taken in private locations with your cameras.
I am glad you Ambassadors took care of this quickly, it would have been a big mistake for owners to think that cameras in private areas are OK. Job well done!
Well from what I know it is technically legal to record video in your house, you can't record audio, only law enforcement are allowed... how bemusing that law is but it's the law. Nanny cams for example are quite common for people who want to make sure their nanny isn't abusing their child so they install hidden cameras.. usually in teddy bears to watch the house.. While I consider this argument morally wrong and an invasion of privacy it is from what I've read fair game in legality terms, outside of placing these cameras in what they state as "expectation of privacy zones" IE Bathrooms,bedrooms the laws vary by state though so it's something you would have to look into for your state specifically.
Well from what I know it is technically legal to record video in your house,
You are correct, you can record video in your house. What you can't do is video a home you are leasing to someone for money. How many hotel rooms have you seen with video cameras in them? How many long term rentals do you see with cameras in them? NONE.
Hotels have cameras in the public lobby, public parking, public pool, public hallways but would never have them in a private bedroom or the private living room of a private suite much less in the private bathroom. (PUBLIC vs. PRIVATE AREAS.)
It may be legal in some areas, but is it morally or ethically correct to videotape private areas where other people are staying?
Laura gave a great example of how she uses her vacation homes, and I am sure that if someone had a camera in an area that you assume is private, and you do activities that are legal within the boundaries of a home or a hotel room, but would never want to be broadcasted or someone have you on video, you would agree that it raises significant ethical questions.
I still have not received an answer on the fourth camera, I hope it is not where I dread it is at.
@gabriel Well to belabor I did say it is to "me" morally/ethically wrong to to do it, however, I don't believe that's the question at hand. The more pressing question and I think the axiom is whether it's "illegal" or not, he's never stated where he put that 4th camera so it's ambiguous to say whether he broke the law or not.
@sophies The only problem I see with that premise is as I stated before the law states you can't record in areas considered "expectations of privacy". Such as bedrooms, most hotels are essentially just bedrooms and a bathroom which is why you don't see them within the rooms, you do however see them in the hallways leading to the rooms and in the lobbies which are within the hotel. Just not within what are designated areas of expected privacy by the law.
Again to me this is wrong, I myself would never go to such extremes to record within my own property to make sure people are following the rules, the negative backlash is palpable enough to warrant not doing it. It's a quick way to find yourself with 0 bookings.
Your Liability and (Lack Of) Insurance Protection for this Issue...
My name is Kelly Troy and I am the President of InsuranceForInvestors.com. I have read your posting with some degree of concern for the liability and insurance-related aspect of this issue. I'm not certain how your property is insured, but if it is like 98% of the other short-term and vacation rentals that I work with on a regular basis, your policy is probably improperly issued as a standard 'dwelling' policy for rental property or it may even be insured with a 'standard' homeowner's policy - both of which specifically EXCLUDE short-term rental exposure and which will probably result in a denial of any claims and an immediate cancelletion of your policy by the issuing insurance company. There is a chance you are insured properly, but that's another issue as very few insurance professionals know anything about short-term and vacation rentals.
With regards to the cameras specifically, if the tenant chose to pursue legal action, he or she may have grounds for suit alleging invasion of privacy, failure to disclose, mental anguish, and other causes. I'm going to make some assumptions based on experience, but with respect to insurance, if you just have a standard 'dwelling' policy in place from a typical insurance company (and assuming it includes liability coverage at all - which some don't), your are probably NOT covered for your legal and defense costs at all. You would file a liabiliy claim and it would probably be denied - first because of the short-term rental exposure and secondaly because "dwelling" policies generally only include 'premises" liability only - which means liability related to the property itself such as bodily injury due to the property's maintenance or amenities, damage to a guests property (i.e. a large limb from a tree of your property breaks off and falls on the guests' vehicle causing damage, etc). These policies DO NOT include coverage for PERSONAL LIABILITY, which is exactly what this issue falls under. Personal liability relates to things such as invasion of privacy, libel, slander, unfair housing, wrongful eviction, and so on.
Given your recent experience, I would immediately check the policy that you have in place in the event the tenant decides to pursue any action. Your agent may (italics are intentional) have issued the right type of policy and coverage, but in my experience I wouldn't bet on it. If the policy is a standard dwelling policy from a typical 'big name' insurance company - you really have no insurance at all as they exclude short-term properties and the policy will be cancelled and a claim denied the minute they find out what the property is used for. In addition, these policies (as mentioned above) don't provide personal liability coverage. If this home is insured on a homeowner's policy for owner-occupied residence, the same thing applies. The policy will be cancelled because the use of the property is not consistent with the acceptability guidelines for a homeowner's policy and coverage will not apply in any form.
Great advice for the new short term rental owner! Thanks!
Thanks for all the great information!
I am going to share your link to Insurance for Investors with other vacation rental groups.
Also note that I have my insurance through CBIZ, which does promise to address these concerns (such as personal liability, for the owner), in owner-occupied apartment buildings / inns.
For those interested in this topic, here are some more posts on the subject.
OMG!! When I rent a home with a pool that I know is private, I like to sunbathe to get 100% tan (if you know what I mean) and my boyfriend and I like to skinny dip or play some games.
I would be appalled if I later found out they had a camera recording our private intimate moments, I won’t even let my boyfriend record any scenes that I wouldn’t want the public to see.
I don’t know much about the law, but certainly I would be very ****** off!!!
Laura, you have a great point. Thank you for that explanation.
I agree with Method, it is my home and I have the right to record inside.
You may own the title to the home and yes you can record in your own home that you live in BUT you cannot record inside of a rental home, hotel room or any other space that the person has an expectation of privacy. IT IS ILLEGAL! And not only that it is morally wrong!
I'm so horrified at this action. I can only hope that one of your renters takes you to court so you stop breaking the law by invading your renters privacy.
You should be on the phone with an attorney
btw, where is the 4th camera.........please
I strongly advice you to review the privacy laws of your location, your legal implications, and also put yourself in your guest position with regards to cameras in private areas of the house.
Yeah, you can do what you want but that doesn't make it legal or right.
I agree with Method, it is my home and I have the right to record inside.
petegm, you've obviously made up your mind. However, you owe it to yourself and your future guests to at least check out the situation with an attorney. Do yourself a favor and find out about the legality and liability of your circumstances. All you need is one bad review that mentions these cameras, and my bet is you won't see any further rentals for quite some time. Just one gal's opinion. Good luck!
Petegm, videotaping people inside your vacation rental is morally and legally out of line. You may pay the mortgage and expenses on your house, but when you rent it out for public use it falls under a whole new set of rules with regards to privacy. What you are doing with cameras inside the home borders on voyeurism and has no place in a rental business. You are setting yourself up for a lawsuit if you do not back down and refund this guest's deposit asap. Remove the interior camera(s) and get an attorney's counsel immediately.
I seriously doubt that you have any right to have hidden cams anywhere inside a rented home. Get rid of the inside the house cams. Parking lot cams and entryway cams would probably give you all the evidence you need to call foul on your renters. You should probably disclose that you have them. That in itself will discourage the abusers!
Hopefully you will not be sued, arrested or jailed for this.
You all convinced me, I will remove the two cameras inside.
Good news, petegm. And that's why this community is such a good tool - we're all in the same boat - we rise and sink together!!
Boy, this was some heavy stuff!!! And probably the most thrilling posts I have seen in this community, I couldn't wait till the end because it was so loaded. Kudos to those who helped Pete resolve this issue.
I think owners should disclose to renters if they have cameras inside the homes and where, perhaps even a code of ethics on the location and use of cameras.
WOW! Amazing. Cameras in the house would be a violation of various wiretap/recording/privacy laws in every jurisdiction. Imagine a 13 year old girl running naked through the house. Imagine what prison is like.
You could deduct for any actual damage (as opposed to "additional depreciation" and "dancing on the table") but you do run a huge risk that the renter will end up being so ****** that he contacts the police, prosecuting attorney, federal law enforcement, or has deep enough pockets to sue you for some huge amount for invasion of privacy just because he can.
I would love to rent a house with cameras inside!! I could then afford more vacation homes and one heck of a trip to the tropics!
Please send me your rental listing number also!! I would be quite happy going on vacation, and heading home owning a part of your rental. Also have you ever thought of the repercussions if you catch someones minor child on camera either nude or partially nude??? Most lawyers would love a case like this. This is the kind of case that makes the national news, and makes a lawyer rich!!