A Kiwi family were shocked to discover a hidden camera in their Airbnb while on holiday in Ireland.

Nealie and Andrew Barker were travelling Europe with their five children, and had checked into a number of different holiday rentals as a family.

But the Barkers had never come across anything like this.

When they reached their accommodation for the night of March 3, the family trip took an odd turn.

Advertisement

Andrew, who is an IT consultant, had noticed something odd when connecting his phone to the house Wifi. There was a device registered to the network called "IP Camera".

Out of curiosity, he was able to connect to the device and to his and Nealie's horror, it provided a live video feed of the family.

"Andy hacked the live-feed and called the owner to ask what the fudge sticks was going on," Nealie wrote on the family travel blog sixfortwelve. "We were all watching ourselves on his mobile phone."

They found the camera overlooking the lounge and kitchen area of the Airbnb.

They had already paid in full for three days' stay at the accommodation, but no longer felt comfortable at the house.

PLEASE SHARE WIDELY. AIRBNB APPROVE HIDDEN CAMERAS AT THEIR HOUSES. We are avid Airbnb users. We love the platform. We...

Posted by Nealie Barker on Monday, 1 April 2019

The Barker family felt they had taken a lot in their stride wile travelling but this was shocking.

Nealie felt "immediately protective" about her family and children being on camera.

They made the decision to decamp to a nearby hotel instead.

They have since contacted both the owner of the property and Aibnb who leased it to them.

The owner who was hosting the family initially denied any knowledge of the camera and hung up on their phone call, the family told Stuff.

But after persisting, he eventually admitted to having installed a camera to "protect his investment".

Although he would not tell the family if it was recording audio from the house, or if any video had been captured of the Barkers.

There was no mention of cameras in the property listing on Airbnb.

The process of getting a response from the lettings website had been "hopeless" the Barkers told, and it had been several weeks before they heard any outcome.

The letting website Aibnb has since apologised to the Barkers, and issued a full refund.

Airbnb told Herald Travel that they "have permanently removed this bad actor from [their] platform."

The website's privacy policy forbids cameras from being hidden and never covering bedrooms or bathrooms. Those on the property for security must be properly disclosed before reservation is made.

"In Ireland you have to let people know they are being filmed, it's the law. Also I think if you're not comfortable with people in your house, don't rent it out," said Nealie.

The Barkers said less tech savvy guests might not have noticed the camera.

It was in a private part of the house and could have easily captured images of children or intimate moments from previous people staying at the property.

Users should be vigilant and able to push for an investigation if one is needed.

A spokesperson for Airbnb told Herald Travel that the "safety and privacy of our community – both online and offline – is our priority. Airbnb policies strictly prohibit hidden cameras in listings and we take reports of any violations extremely seriously."

"Our original handling of this incident did not meet the high standards we set for ourselves."

The spokesperson also said the Barkers had receieved a full refund with an apology, and that this kind of incident is "incredibly rare".

It is unclear how many previous guests might have been affected by the property, or if they had been contacted by Airbnb regarding concealed cameras.