Homeowners may want to use electronic monitoring equipment — video and audio — to monitor guests in their home in two situations. One is when a homeowner is selling her house and wants to monitor potential buyers during showings. The other is when the owner rents out a house via Airbnb. Is this sort of electronic monitoring legal?
Can a seller monitor showings of her home?
Audio electronic monitoring is not allowed under federal and most states’ laws unless at least one participant in a conversation is aware of the monitoring and consents. That means you cannot legally make audio recordings of a buyer and his agent within your home because you are not part of the conversation. This is true whether the monitoring is done with an audio-only device or a camera that also monitors audio.
Silent cameras that don’t record audio, whether open or hidden, are allowed in most states in common areas such as kitchens but not in rooms where privacy is expected, such as bathrooms. To be safe, check with an attorney who knows your state’s law and either place the camera in plain sight or post a sign announcing that video cameras are in place.
When you are touring homes, keep in mind that not all home sellers will comply with the law regarding electronic monitoring, whether willfully or ignorantly. Buyers and their agents would be wise to have their conversations outside of sellers’ homes to avoid the possibility of being monitored.
Can an Airbnb owner monitor guests?
An Airbnb owner is subject to the same legal restrictions as the homeowner who wants to monitor showings as well as a second set of prohibitions imposed by Airbnb and other guest booking services’ policies on monitoring. He cannot legally make audio recordings of conversations between his guests without their consent. Airbnb allows monitoring cameras but only where the camera is in full view, monitors only common areas such as living rooms, kitchens and outdoor areas, and is disclosed to the guest before the booking and stay.
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