Experience the difference of "Elite".

Your Guide to Security Cameras for Vacation Rentals

  • Published on

Your Guide to Security Cameras for Vacation Rentals

Property managers must balance guest privacy with rental property safety. Choose your security camera systems wisely, considering cost and features.

Ensuring the safety of rental properties is a responsibility every property owner and manager should take seriously. When you safeguard your property, it benefits not just you but also your guests and renters by creating an environment where they feel comfortable and safe. This article focuses on the right security camera system's role in creating that kind of safety for your vacation rental.

This article will explore common security camera considerations, from privacy concerns and property safety to subscription options and system functionality. With this knowledge, you'll be better positioned to choose a camera system that fits your expectations and the needs of your property.

security camera outside

The Balance Between Guest Privacy and Property Safety

The right balance between property safety and respecting guest privacy can be difficult with vacation rentals. Your surveillance camera choices can impact your guests' experience and your property's reputation. So let us discuss the things you should be looking out for.

Legal Concerns

Different regions have specific laws and regulations related to a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. For instance, recording audio without explicit consent is illegal in some areas, even where video recording is permitted. In other areas, outdoor video and audio recording is relatively unrestricted.

Every tenant has an inherent right to privacy. As a property manager or owner, recognizing and respecting this right is part of your ethical and professional responsibilities. It can be delicate to balance, ensuring the security of your property while not infringing upon your tenant's privacy rights.

stranger and security camera

The legalities around audio recording and video surveillance are not to be taken lightly. While your primary goal might be to ensure the safety of your property, a misstep could lead to legal repercussions. Beyond potential legal complications, there's the erosion of trust to consider. Tenants want to feel safe, but they don't want to feel watched.

When considering a security camera system for your property, a good place to start is to familiarize yourself with state and local laws. Knowing and adhering to these laws should be the starting point for you. Great vacation rental managers look for ways to go above and beyond when it comes to creating a hospitable environment for guests. 

Placement and Transparency

We always recommend having a policy of transparency and honesty when it comes to security cameras on rental properties. Not only should the cameras be conspicuous to someone at your property, but you should also go out of your way to disclose the presence and location of all indoor and outdoor security cameras in the rental property listings. This transparency ensures guests know what to expect before they book. Surprises like cameras can negatively impact your guest’s rental experience. Listing channels, such as Airbnb, require property managers to disclose that there is a surveillance camera on sight, regardless of where it is located on the property. You can read more about this here.

Airbnb Security Camera Notice

No matter how conspicuously the cameras are placed, there are some private areas where cameras should never be used. Bathrooms, bedrooms, and anywhere else you can reasonably expect guests to change clothing should not be in sight for any camera on the property. Such placements can be intrusive, violating a guest's expectation of privacy and potentially breaking the law.

On the other hand, monitoring common areas, especially outdoor areas, is both advisable and practical. Places like driveways, parking lots, and front doors are essential from a security standpoint and are less invasive of your guest’s privacy. These areas often see a mix of guests and service providers (like cleaning crews), so having surveillance here can help you keep an eye on the property and your belongings without intruding on the intimate spaces of your renters.

Wired vs. Wireless Security Cameras

Choosing the right type of security camera system for your vacation rental largely depends on your specific needs, budget, and the property's structure. Both wired and wireless systems have advantages and disadvantages, which we explore both below.

Wired Systems

wired security camera


  • Consistent Power Source: Wired security cameras are directly connected to the property's power grid, ensuring they remain operational as long as there's electricity. This continuous power supply minimizes the risk of the cameras going offline unexpectedly.
  • Reliability: Wired systems are usually more stable and less susceptible to interference than wireless counterparts. This means fewer dropped connections and more consistent surveillance.


  • Camera Installation: Installing a wired system can be more complex, often requiring professional help. This means drilling holes, routing cables, and ensuring everything is connected correctly.
  • Potential Damage: During installation, there's a risk of inadvertent damage to walls, ceilings, or existing wiring, especially if not handled carefully.

Wireless Systems:

wireless security camera


  • Ease of Installation: Wireless cameras are typically easier to install. Most can be set up using simple tools, and there's no need to route cables throughout the property.
  • Flexibility: Without the constraints of wires, these cameras can be easily moved and repositioned as needed. This adaptability allows for better coverage and the ability to adjust based on changing security needs.
  • Adjustable Coverage: Many guests are uncomfortable with any indoor cameras. A wireless system would allow a property owner to remove indoor cameras before guests arrive and quickly remount them when the property is vacant. That way, owners can monitor everything when the property is empty and most vulnerable while maximizing guest comfort.


  • Battery Life: Wireless cameras rely on batteries. These batteries might need frequent replacement or recharging depending on usage and factors like the ambient temperature.
  • Potential Interference: Wireless systems can sometimes face interference from other electronic devices, which could lead to dropped signals. Identifying and adjusting for possible interference when installing can help owners avoid serious frustration down the road.

Cost Considerations

When it comes to ensuring the safety of a rental property, deciding on a budget for security measures is a fundamental step. Among the variety of home security cameras available, there's an important difference in the cost models for subscription-based cameras vs. no-subscription cameras. Let’s break down the pros and cons of both.

Subscription-based Cameras


  • Enhanced Functionality: These often come with advanced features, like cloud storage, which allows renters and property owners to access footage from anywhere, and real-time notifications for events like motion detection.
  • Regular Updates: Subscription models often ensure the security system receives regular software updates, keeping functionalities like night vision and audio recording at peak performance.
  • Professional Monitoring: Often bundled with other features like an alarm system, some subscription-based cameras include professional monitoring services to help protect against potential break-ins or vandalism.


  • Ongoing Cost: Over time, monthly or annual fees can add up, making them a significant factor in the overall cost of the security system.
  • Potential for Locked Features: Some manufacturers might lock certain features behind a paywall, requiring higher-tier subscriptions to access functionalities like full video surveillance history.

No Subscription Cameras


  • Upfront Pricing: There are no hidden fees or monthly costs. Though the initial cost may be higher, once you purchase the camera, it’s yours to use without additional payments. This option can be great for those on a budget or paying other monthly fees like cleaning services, property management, and merchant of record fees.
  • Basic Functionality: While they might not have all the bells and whistles, many non-subscription cameras offer essential security features like motion detection and night vision, ensuring basic property surveillance.


  • Limited Storage: Without subscription-based cloud storage, these cameras might rely on local storage options, which can be limited and require manual management.
  • Less Frequent Updates: These cameras tend to receive fewer software updates, potentially limiting their long-term functionality.

When deciding between these options, consider the needs of your rental property. Investing in a subscription model might offer more peace of mind if the property is a high-end real estate asset or is located in an area prone to property damage or theft. However, for homeowners or property managers of an apartment building or rental unit who just want basic surveillance of common areas like parking lots or laundry rooms, a no-subscription camera might suffice. Remember to always balance cost with the desired level of protection and tenant privacy.

Features and Functionality

No matter what type of system you are looking into, you will likely find more feature and functionality options than you expected. Let us help you understand some of the different features and how they might serve your rental property.

Ease of Use

Choosing an intuitive system ensures smooth operation and means you are less likely to miss an important event due to technical difficulties. Navigating settings swiftly, accessing live footage, or adjusting preferences without a steep learning curve is very helpful. After all, if a system is so cumbersome it is underutilized or incorrectly configured, then it undermines the value of installing the system in the first place.

security camera feed on iphone

Advanced Features

Motion Detection: This feature ensures that cameras are not just recording your empty yard. Motion detection triggers recording when it senses movement, making it easier to identify potential security threats. Moreover, it helps conserve storage space and battery life by only activating when needed.

Night Vision: Many incidents, especially break-ins or vandalism, occur under the cover of darkness. Night vision allows cameras to capture clear, usable footage even in low-light conditions, ensuring 24/7 surveillance.

Notifications: Real-time alerts, through emails or app notifications, can help keep property managers and homeowners in the loop. Immediate notifications in case of detected motion or security breaches allow for quick response times.

Audio Recording: The ability to see and hear what's happening can provide a comprehensive picture of events. Audio recording can aid in distinguishing between false alarms and genuine security threats.

Smart Home Integrations: With the proliferation of smart homes, integrating security cameras with other smart devices can amplify protection levels. For instance, doorbell cameras allow visual verification before granting access, while smart locks offer remote locking capabilities, ensuring properties remain secure. OwnerRez has partnered with many companies in the home security space to provide seamless integration between platforms. You can find a list of our door lock integrations here. You may also be interested in companies like PointCentralBehome247, and Lynx, which offer many different types of smart home integrations.

OwnerRez Door Lock Integrations

Storage Options

Local Storage: Cameras with local storage, typically through microSD cards, can be valuable because you can access footage without an internet connection. With local storage, you can be confident that your camera will continue recording, even if internet connectivity is spotty. However, capacity can be a limiting factor, and homeowners may need to be onsite to review the footage.

Cloud Storage: Cloud storage solutions can offer nearly limitless storage space and the convenience of accessing footage from anywhere. It's especially beneficial for property managers overseeing multiple rental units. However, this often comes with subscription fees, and users can lose the ability to record events if there is an internet outage.

Hybrid Systems: Some camera systems have a cloud storage option with a local backup. These systems allow owners the benefits of cloud systems while having the assurance that there is a physical backup if the internet connection fails.

When selecting a surveillance system for a rental property, it is valuable to consider camera features and ease of use. The aim should be to balance comprehensive protection and straightforward functionality. A usable camera system with limited features is much better than a system with so many features that it never gets set up.

Find The Right Solutions With OwnerRez

Balancing property safety and respecting guest privacy can be tricky for vacation rental properties. As a property owner or manager, you are responsible for protecting your assets while providing a secure, private environment for your guests. By making informed decisions on security camera systems, you can do both things gracefully and confidently.

The journey to a safe and secure rental property doesn’t stop with a new security camera. There is always more to learn. The team at OwnerRez can be a powerful resource in helping you manage and protect your rental property. From helpful guides like this to short-term rental insurance to protect your property from damage caused by guests, OwneRez is a great partner for your vacation rental business.