Family finds hidden camera in Brampton Airbnb

An Ottawa man says he was staying in a Brampton Airbnb and found a hidden camera in a spot where his female cousin was sleeping. Maleeha Sheikh shares his story and hears from Airbnb on the investigation.

By Maleeha Sheikh

When you book an Airbnb, it’s supposed to be a home away from home. Somewhere you feel comfortable, relaxed, and most importantly, safe.

This was not the case for one Ottawa family who found a hidden camera in their Brampton Airbnb where one person was sleeping.

“We don’t know what happened with the footage, we don’t know what they heard, we don’t know if they recorded anything… we just don’t know,” said Jas Grewal, who was staying at the Airbnb with his three cousins last week.

He says at first, their stay was great, until they made the disturbing discovery.

“It came to my cousin’s attention,” Grewal said, “We were trying to plug our laptop into the TV and we were looking for an HDMI cable, and when he went to look for the HDMI cable, he saw there was a cabinet with a little hole… a peep hole. And when he looked closer, the cabinet was locked so you couldn’t actually access the cabinet. There was like a camera behind it that was locked. That’s when we figured out that there was a hidden camera in our living space. The mattress was right in front of it.”

Airbnb camera

Ottawa family discovers hidden camera in their Brampton Airbnb during their July, 2022 stay. (Photo courtesy Jas Grewal)

Grewal said his female cousin was sleeping on that mattress for part of the stay.

He adds after messaging the Airbnb host that they would need additional time to leave, they received a message from the host which reads in part: “Hello Jay, you definitely need more time…”

That message made them feel like they were being watched.

On Airbnb’s website, it clearly states, “security measures like security cameras and noise monitoring devices are allowed, as long as they are clearly disclosed in the listing description and don’t infringe on another person’s privacy. Rules about devices apply to all cameras, recording devices, smart devices, and monitoring devices.”

Grewal said that wasn’t the case for this listing.

“If somebody had told us, ‘hey listen there’s a camera here,’ if it’s well visible or if somebody had told us it’s there, it’s a whole different story,” said Grewal.

In a statement to CityNews, Airbnb wrote in part, “Airbnb has a clear policy when it comes to the use of security cameras in homes that must be adhered to by all Hosts. We take guest privacy seriously and our dedicated Safety team is thoroughly investigating. A full refund has been given to the guests and the listing has been deactivated pending the investigation.”

“It’s not about the money. At this point, we don’t know what kind of footage, pictures, audio, might be sitting with somebody we don’t even know,” said Grewal, who is eagerly awaiting to hear what the investigation reveals.

Grewal adds the experience has left a very bitter taste in his mouth. He used to stay at Airbnb locations all the time but will now switch over to hotels, which he believes are a safer option.

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