Can I Have Security Cameras at My Vacation Rental?

Can I have surveillance cameras in my rental without violating any laws? How can I protect my rental when no one is occupying my property? Will my guests feel more secure if I add additional monitoring devices?

These questions are common among new and veteran vacation rental owners.

While installing cameras and surveillance devices inside your home is illegal, there are still ways homeowners can add monitoring devices without violating your renters’ rights. As technology continues to advance, so does your ability to safeguard your vacation property when hosting renters. Adding monitoring devices in and around your vacation rental can help you protect your property and minimize unnecessary costs.

It’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of the monitoring devices that are acceptable in your rental. Understanding what monitoring devices are acceptable in your vacation property will help you navigate the best devices for your rental needs.

But keep in mind, securing and monitoring your property isn’t just about installing cameras and alarms, it’s also about increasing the comfort and ease your guest feel when staying in your rental. Using thermostat, noise, or lighting monitors can help your guests feel more at home.

Here are some monitoring devices that are acceptable in your vacation rentals and can enhance your guests’ experiences when visiting your property.

Security systems

Another monitoring device allowed in a vacation rental is a remote security system. In the event you do have an intruder, a remote security system can alert authorities, dispatch police, and save your home from costly scandal.

Not only do security systems help keep your vacation rental safe, they may give you the opportunity to get a discount on your homeowners insurance. It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to give you a 10% annual discount on your policy for installing a security system.

Home security systems cost between $250 and $1,500. Your cost will depend on the equipment used, installation, activation fees, and upfront charges. You may also have to pay a recurring monthly service fee ranging in price from $10 to $100. When comparing security systems you will want to review the features offered with your purchase. Some features you’ll want to consider include:

  • Door and window sensors: You don’t want to just have sensors at the door. Intruders can use windows and other areas to access your property. Additionally, if a tree branch punctures your window, you can handle this matter in a timely manner and avoid other damage.
  • Motion sensors: In the case a thief were to pass the window or door, motion sensors can detect their presence. Motion sensors safeguard the failure of other features.
  • Mobile remote controls: Mobile controls will give you the ability to arm and disarm your security system while you’re away. With housekeepers and guests coming and going from your property you want to secure your vacant home.
  • Sirens: If an intruder were to enter your home, a siren would most likely scare them off. It lets them know that authorities are on their way.  

Home security systems tend to be expensive but the cost of not installing one could cost you even more.

Surveillance systems and cameras

Currently, it’s illegal to place cameras inside your vacation property. Period. It’s important to maintain the privacy of your renters and avoid violating your legal obligations. However, the use of surveillance cameras around the outside of your home is legal. This means that you can place them around the exterior of your property, like at your front door.

The goal of using surveillance cameras is to not monitor your guest’s coming and going but to catch break-ins, stop a potential party, and identify suspicious activity. Using a device like Ring Doorbell gives property owners a front row seat to any activity in the front of the rental. Ring Doorbell and other similar devices allow renters to feel secure without violating their rights and privacy.

Companies such as VRBO and Airbnb, require all property owners to notify their guests when they have cameras or other surveillance systems throughout the property. Airbnb also requires property owners to disclose if any active recording is taking place. If the homeowner fails to comply, the guest may receive a full refund or free cancellation for the reservation.

These requirements are not limited to home surveillance systems. You may also have to disclose baby monitors, web cameras in computer monitors, and other video and audio recording devices.  

There are numerous surveillance systems and cameras that can fit any budget and security need. Whether you want one camera at your front door or several placed around the outside of your home (as long as it’s not an area on your property that guests have a reasonable expectation of privacy, like a pool), plenty of options are available. When comparing camera options, here are some features you should consider:

  • High-definition video quality: You will want to purchase a 1080p or higher resolution to access the best footage. If you choose to connect your camera with a DVR recorder, it will need to have high-definition capabilities as well.
  • Mobile remote control: If you want to livestream the footage from your home, you will need a device that is compatible with your smartphone or table.  
  • Night vision: Clear picture at night may be one of the most important features of surveillance cameras. To get the best vision at night, you should consider infra-red lighting which provides bright light through wavelengths. Look for cameras who have at least 100 feet of night vision.
  • Pan, tilt, and zoom functionality: To reposition the camera in large areas you may want to purchase one with pan, tilt, and zoom functionality.
  • Weather resistant: If you choose to install cameras around the perimeter of your home, you should look for brands that boast weather resistant qualities.
  • Recording: Trespassers or vandals are more likely to visit your rental property when no one is home. Having a recording feature can help you capture footage for future use.

One of the biggest concerns many property owners have is the safety of their property in their absence. Using home surveillance cameras can be a great way to monitor the activity around your rental.

Noise monitors

With the increase of instant vacation rental bookings, some property owners and property management companies are turning to noise monitoring devices. These devices help property owners monitor the noise level around and in their rental to ensure guests aren’t throwing parties or becoming a nuisance to neighbors.

Noise monitoring devices will not record the audio in your property, they are simply designed to detect high levels of noise activity. Noise monitors can also help you detect the presence of unwanted visitors, such as thieves or intruders.

TurnKey uses decibel monitors to keep track of the noise levels in the properties they manage. If a guest’s volume is exceedingly loud, TurnKey will contact the guests and request a lower volume. Noise monitoring devices can vary in price depending on the software and installation you choose.

Lighting control

A dark house can be cause for burglars to visit your home. Controlling and automating your lighting can not only prevent thieves from entering your property, but also help you save money on your electric bill. With programmable, or a smart lighting system, you can dim, turn on/off, and set lighting schedules from anywhere in the world.

There are several different approaches you can use when installing an automated lighting system. Google Smart lighting and TCP wireless offer LED light bulbs that you simply screw in and then install a remote bridge to your WIFI router. Then, you download the iPhone or Android app on your phone and your monitoring system is ready.

Another option includes purchasing a wireless wall switch or outdoor flood lights. Both options may require an electrician for installation. Costs will vary depending on installation requirements, type, and location of the wireless lightening system.   

Heat and A/C control

Energy can be one of the biggest expenses when owning a vacation rental. It can also be a bit of a challenge to control when you’re not on-site to monitor it, especially if some of your renters leave the heat or AC on high when they leave your rental.  

Remote controlled thermostats can help you monitor your heat and ac via a smartphone or tablet. You will be able to control your thermostat from anywhere at any time. Installing a remote controlled thermostat is also a great way to pre-heat or pre-cool your property before your guests arrive. Your guests will feel welcomed when entering a cooled accommodation on a hot summer day.

Upon their departure, you can adjust the temperature in case they forgot. Some devices give you’re the capability to restrict the high and low temperatures guest set.

As long as you have a Wi-Fi connection, remote-controlled thermostats can cost between $100 and $250 dollars.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

If your property is vacant, how will you detect a fire or carbon monoxide? Remote detectors listen to your smoke and CO detectors and alert you in case of an emergency. Most detectors plug into your outlets and will send you a notification if they hear the alarm.

You can purchase a remote detector for around $100. Make sure to verify the manufactured year of all of your detectors to confirm compatibility with your new monitoring device. Most devices require very little installation and won’t require you to replace all alarms in your home. Installing a remote detector can protect your guests as well as prevent potential disasters when you’re absent from the property.

Keep in mind some monitoring devices are multi use. For example, certain security systems may come with surveillance cameras, fire and carbon monoxide detectors, temperature controls, and more. So, before you purchase each monitoring device, check the availability of an all-encompassing system.

The bottom line

There are many monitoring devices allowed in your vacation property. Therefore, it’s important to evaluate what your property needs and what you can afford. You will also want to consider the money you’ll save on electricity, heating and cooling, and even potential burglaries. Installing monitoring devices will also enhance your guest’s experience and make them feel right at home. They will feel safe and secure knowing you took the extra steps for their well-being.

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