It seems Airbnb has taken some advise straight from the NSA playbook when it comes to state-of-the-art surveillance.

There  have been suspicions that some hosts were spying on their guests and  the occasional spy camera has been found. One agitated customer located a  camera complete with infrared LEDs hidden between the slats of a  ceiling vent.

Airbnb Patron Claims to Find a Secret Camera Hidden in Home
An Airbnb customer noticed a strange light coming from a ceiling vent in a rental home . She claims to have discovered a camera hidden in the duct upon disassembling it. The guest claims that “hidden in the vent, in between the slats of it, was a small hidden camera with infrared LEDs”. Airbnb’s pol…

Even cellphones and iPads have been found with their recording function activated. Airbnb's reaction to this has been to state that they "take  privacy extremely seriously".

Airbnb guests are finding hidden cameras planted in their rentals
Airbnb is tackling privacy concerns after several customers found hidden cameras at their rental properties

Obviously this  nasty video voyeurism has been instigated by the property owners themselves and not by Airbnb. But now, in light of the growing number of  listings that have been damaged by renters holding wild parties, Airbnb  are pushing what are described as "party prevention devices". These are  stuck on the wall or ceiling to listen for constant excess noise in  rented properties and then this piece of equipment will contact the  owners if something is amiss.

It is concerning that they would  go to such lengths in an effort to control their paying customers but  according to Airbnb over 700,000 of their listings have these monitors  in place, sending alerts to property owners if things get a little out of hand. Next up will be alcohol/pot sniffing systems, no doubt!

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Airbnb  is causing housing shortages brought about by its unprecedented growth. Once thriving local neighbourhoods are losing their charm as long term renters & owners are forced out by landlords and economic  necessity/opportunity wanting to take advantage of much higher income  from short term rentals via Airbnb. and the like. In the UK the  situation has become extremely bad with one out of four properties in  some areas listed on Airbnb. Communities are losing out as homes are  being taken off the regular rental market, with young adults not being  able to afford to live in the areas in which they grew up.

The authorities in New York have been able to counter this problem by  making it illegal to rent out an entire apartment on Airbnb for less  than 30 days. Thus long-term supply of properties for locals is ensured.  NYC Council members Helen Rosenthal and Jumaane Williams savaged Airbnb  in a statement saying that "Airbnb consistently undermines the city's  efforts to preserve affordable housing and regularly attempts to thwart  regulations put in place to protect New York City residents".

Barcelona  have started vigorous enforcement action with a swingeing fine of 600,000 Euros against Airbnb for their non-adherence to local laws. It  is reckoned that around half of that city's holiday rentals are illegal  and this has prompted local authorities to set up a team of inspectors  backed up by very potent local laws to stamp out this practice. Janet  Sanz, Barcelona housing councillor put it very succinctly: "Barcelona  exists for its people. The priority is it's a place to live."

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Its  rapid growth has also raised issues about taxation and a lack of  transparency around Airbnb. Taxes which would normally be collected by  the regular hotel industry are now lost as their clientele switches to  Airbnb. The lack of regulation has also sparked concerns as to whether  or not some homes are even suitable or safe enough to be rented out like  this. By way of comparison, true B & B's which have existed for  decades are the ones that normally have a degree of control under local council rules.

Some landlords in a rush to make a fast buck  have not considered if what they are doing is in fact legal. If the home  is mortgaged it could well be in breach of the terms and conditions and  in a worse case scenario this could lead to a repossession of the  property by the lender. Also, home insurance could become invalid due to  running a commercial enterprise inside a private property. Some insurance companies however, have acknowledged that there is a market  for Airbnb related insurance and they now offer specialised "host  insurance" policies. In the UK, any property which is let out for more  than 90 nights a year needs planning permission. More than half of the  properties which are available in London on Airbnb are complete houses  or flats, all of which are available for more than 90 nights a year.  Some landlords have had their fingers burnt by rogue tenants subletting  their properties through other websites without their knowledge.

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Paris  has a similar cap of 120 days but some 44% of Airbnb listings were  found to be breaking this law, a situation which precipitated raids and  subsequent fines of up to 25,000 Euros for those hosts involved.

The  conservative Japanese have not taken kindly to Airbnb in their neighbourhoods as they have found themselves overwhelmed by "tourist pollution". Disrespect of local customs, noise and unruly behaviour have  lead the Japanese government to create legally zoned areas where hosts  have to be licensed. Also an annual quota of 180 days has been imposed.

Things  are no different down under in Australia with long term rentals  becoming scarce as landlords are attracted to the more lucrative nightly  rates. This has exacerbated an already existing housing affordability  crisis. In Australia's largest State of New South Wales however, new  regulations have come into force which drastically alter the Airbnb  landscape. These include limits of 180 guest nights a year and the  ability of apartment building owners to ban Airbnb from the premises if  75% of owners so agree during a vote.

Airbnb’s head of policy says Sydney’s new rules to deal with wild parties and other problems could be a model for cities around the world
Airbnb says tough new restrictions in Australia’s largest state on how properties are shared on its platform — including a maximum limit of 180 days of occupation — could be a model for the rest of the world, and even pave the way for a type of “tourist tax” that would spread the benefits of the …


Certainly Airbnb brings opportunities for home owners to generate additional income but it appears now that the problems which this burgeoning  industry is creating far outweigh the benefits. These problems together  with the promotion of those spooky monitors by Airbnb is perhaps a tacit  admission that this particular form of business model is steadily  falling apart at the seams.