Video Cameras at STRs

14 Replies

I have two busy STRs. I don’t currently have external cameras on the properties, but I’m considering adding them. I haven’t really had issues, but I want to be prudent. Do you have external cameras on your properties?

I use ring floodlight cameras, but I don’t look at them unless there is an issue or to see if a guest checked out early so my cleaners can come. Slippery slope.

@Steve Fitzgerald

We stayed at a property that had them at the front door, which we felt fine about but when there was one on the hot tub we felt uncomfortable. My husband turned them facing the siding of the house house & we turned them back at check out. I would be careful to do so in a way that wouldn’t make guest feel uncomfortable.

Yes I have external cameras.

I used hardwired digital watchdog cameras and camera server. No monthly subscription fees. No wireless cameras with batteries to replace. You get what you pay for.

Agree with @John Underwood exterior security cameras are a must in my opinion. We use ICRealtime products but also no monthly subscription. I absolutely WOULD have a camera on a pool area or a hot tub simply for liability protections but thats just me.

We always cover each exterior entrance into the property plus the driveway and garage doors if applicable and I have a doorbell cam as well at each property. typically 3-4 cams at each property max. Good insurance against problems. no monthly fee is critical as you scale. Plus you need a monitoring ability that can handle dozens of camera systems from one central interface (assuming you are scaling larger). I can literally pull up every camera we have on 4 monitors and see every property which is nice.

Minut sensors are my second favorite (although they do have a monthly subscription).

I've got 3 properties and I use the Nest ecosystem from Google.  It's amazing.  They have changed the pricing so it's now $60/ year for what appears to be unlimited cameras (I haven't tested the limit yet) I think I've got 8 cameras on all exterior doors and driveways and garages.  They are super easy to setup and have tons of features including cloud recording and super simple access from my phone so it's very easy to know what's going on.  Also it's great as I integrate the nest thermostat and nest deadbolts as well so I can easily control them all within the app and also change codes etc. If need be.  It's a bit high on the entry price, but having them all combined makes for an excellent experience for me.  I highly recommend them.  Just having everything all in one package from a tech standpoint and easy to integrate and administer was key for me.  There may be better cheaper camera solutions but having them all together in one app is what I like.

I also have 2 busy properties...no cameras yet. But I really feel the need to have at least one at the front of the house to see who's coming and going. My main concern is having someone rent for one couple and then show up with 4 cars.......

Oh, and thanks to all for the advice on which type/brand to use. I'm looking for ones that I could check from my phone/laptop remotely of course.....

I don't mind changing batteries vs hard-wired, but would prefer no monthly fees.....

@Steve Fitzgerald I would highly recommend cameras covering doors and driveway. Even if you have not had problems, that is more due to luck. Anyone who operates enough STR or has them long enough will have problems. These are some reasons for cameras:

1. It keeps tabs on who is entering the property so things like parties or extra guests can be easily detected.

2. Provides a level of security for your guests. Cameras are a good deterrent for criminals. 

3. You can monitor check in, check out to see when people are coming and going. You can also see when the cleaning crew comes and goes to understand how much time they spend there.

@Joshua Strickland I agree with @Robert Gilstrap that you want cameras at the pool and hot tub for liability reasons. Every hotel in the world has cameras in their pool and hot tub area, so if a guest has concerns just explain that to them. Make sure if you have cameras in a pool or hot tub area to post signs that state the area is under video surveillance. The reason you want cameras is in case of something like a drowning. If the guest leaves the hot tub open or lets a small child in the area without supervisions, you want proof that the guest was negligent. Cameras prevent the guest from making up their own version of events. Also if your house rules state, "no children in the pool without adult supervision - this area is video monitored" there is then more accountability to the guest. @Deirdre Cullen the listing should have notified you of cameras and their location. If it didn't that probably violates listing terms. If the listing stated there were cameras on the hot tub and you moved them, I would have an issue with that as the host. 

As far as type of cameras to recommend. At my home I use a Night Owl system that I can access remotely without a fee. The advantage is no monthly fee, but it is not cloud based so the images are stored at the device. If someone removes the base unit or unplugs it, you have no access to footage. For my STR I use Ring cameras which are cloud connected so all the video is stored remotely. I pay $99 a year for unlimited devices. Theoretically that fee is for one property, but you could connect multiple properties cameras into on account. I would just do that.

One final comment, never put cameras inside a property. Outside is fair game for the obvious reason that nobody has expectation of privacy outdoors. Even in a fenced back yard, someone could look over the fence or a drone could fly over.

I totally disagree with the cameras on a private hot tub or private pool. Hotels do for liability reasons and those are public environments. I would never stay at a place where a camera was pointed at a private hot tub or pool. #1 rule with cameras in STRs is that you need to explicitly let your guests know where those cameras are and what they are covering in your listing. If I was booking an STR with a hot tub and it said camera monitoring hot tub I would NOT book that place. Sorry just gonna think the owner is a perv and not gonna book there. Also, if I rented a place with a camera on a hot tub and the camera was not disclosed - I would be ticked off and you are not gonna get a very good review. I know of one owner that put a camera on the outside monitoring his back door but he faced it so it looks at the back door and in through the window into his indoor private pool. I don't know if he has since moved it but shortly after he got some not so happy guests because of that.

I have hot tubs at all my STRs and some of my STRs have private indoor pools as well.  For liability reasons I work with my insurance company and they provide guidance on what does/does not need to be done to cover me.  But in the end each owner has to do what they are comfortable with.  I for one want my guests to be comfortable and most will not with a camera pointed at a private pool or hot tub.

As far as having cameras I think they are a must for the 3 main reasons @Joe Splitrock listed.  

@Steve Fitzgerald yes and for those properties I disclose them in my listings. Only external cameras very clearly displayed. Has saved me twice- worth every penny. I do hard disk and the cloud I would not rely on the internet only cams like ring for this purpose.

Originally posted by @Ken Boone :

I totally disagree with the cameras on a private hot tub or private pool. Hotels do for liability reasons and those are public environments. I would never stay at a place where a camera was pointed at a private hot tub or pool. #1 rule with cameras in STRs is that you need to explicitly let your guests know where those cameras are and what they are covering in your listing. If I was booking an STR with a hot tub and it said camera monitoring hot tub I would NOT book that place. Sorry just gonna think the owner is a perv and not gonna book there. Also, if I rented a place with a camera on a hot tub and the camera was not disclosed - I would be ticked off and you are not gonna get a very good review. I know of one owner that put a camera on the outside monitoring his back door but he faced it so it looks at the back door and in through the window into his indoor private pool. I don't know if he has since moved it but shortly after he got some not so happy guests because of that.

I have hot tubs at all my STRs and some of my STRs have private indoor pools as well.  For liability reasons I work with my insurance company and they provide guidance on what does/does not need to be done to cover me.  But in the end each owner has to do what they are comfortable with.  I for one want my guests to be comfortable and most will not with a camera pointed at a private pool or hot tub.

As far as having cameras I think they are a must for the 3 main reasons @Joe Splitrock listed.  

I agree.  I personally would not book if the place has a private hot tub/pool and there were cameras on it.  I have stayed at ones with with ring cameras on the front door and off the back corner of the house shooting toward the driveway, but not at the semi-private expansive deck.  I expect the accommodations areas to be free of cameras.  However, a noise aware device inside/outside the place doesn't bother me.  As an investor, on SFHs I would put up cameras on the driveway/front yard, front door, and other exterior entrances (that outdoor activity space).

 

Cameras are often a perceived safety blanket, not an actual one.  What if there is a drowning in your bathtub?  A scalding on the fireplace?  You can't put cameras every where.

I do like @Joe Splitrock 's point #3.  That could be a great data point to improve your operations.

As always, "it depends" is the right answer depending on the caliber of STR, crime in the area, and obstacle courses present.