Security Systems- hidden or revealed

I’m fairly new to THS so forgive me if this topic has already been discussed. I’m curious how fellow sitters feel about being watched on a security system. I’ve recently accepted a Sit with full disclosure about their cameras. While I’m not excited to be watched, I appreciate their honesty about them and where they are located. I would be against it if they were located in the bedroom or bath of course. I’m told that cameras were becoming (or have been?) the norm and most people don’t disclose their existence :face_with_raised_eyebrow:. I don’t have anything to hide but there is something that makes me feel like the TRUSTED part of THS is being compromised. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

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Disclosed outside cameras are fine but I would never accept a sit with internal cameras - it is a step too far against my personal privacy. The title of the site states quite clearly that there has to be an element of trust when using trustedhousesitters as a homeowner - if the homeowner can’t trust a sitter to stay in their home then I would recommend they take their pet to an outside agency to be cared for.

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Hi @1gypsygurl,

Like you, I’m relatively new to THS. I also had questions about THS’s regulations regarding security systems after reading a thread where a HO mentioned observing a sitter’s movements on a declared security system. The sitter had been acting strange so the HO was worried about her dogs, which is understandable. However, the thought of a HO checking on a sitter made me very uneasy, so I searched the forum for additional threads on the topic.

From what I’ve gathered, some sitters ask the HO to turn off the declared security cameras during their sit. What worries me more are the home owners who ignore the THS requirement to declare their security cameras to the sitter. Like you, I don’t have anything to hide but the idea that a HO would think it’s alright to “watch” me makes me very uncomfortable. As you wrote, the relationship is supposed to be built on TRUST.

One sitter mentioned that he uses an app called Fing to detect undeclared security cameras:

"I use an app called Fing to find all devices connected to a wifi (including hidden cameras). We have sat for a couple different homeowners who had hidden cameras (they had said they didn’t have them during the interview and on our initial walk-through).

Based on this, in both cases I turned the cameras around to face the wall. You may want to google the camera to see if it is capable of recording audio as well."

In case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the THS language regarding security cameras, etc.:

"If an owner’s home has any monitoring equipment like CCTV installed, they must make sure the sitter is aware of it before a sit starts. As our Terms and Conditions explain, an owner’s membership will be suspended if they do not tell a sitter about this equipment.

We recommend owners include this information in their listing, and it must be included in their Welcome Guide too. If monitoring equipment is not detailed on a listing, sitters are encouraged to ask about it anyway."

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@1gypsygurl yes the trusted part goes right out of the window if they are present within the house and its kind of creepy also! I think having them fitted outside and activated at night or somehow triggered when the house is locked and you walk away and shutting down when you come back and punch a code or whatever is reasonable but any use of cameras SHOULD be disclosed fully in the initial listing and definitely not left until the sitter arrives. Just as an aside, I would have welcomed somebody coming into my place and stripping it bare of all the junk I had gathered over the years in the lead up to my deciding to takes to the road with all my worldly whatnots in a backpack! Some of the things people cling to in life really arent worth installing security cameras!

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Deciding to live with very little is not everyone’s decision and not to do so should be accepted as well as the other way round. You may not possess much but you do obviously enjoy that other people have them and you can use them during a sit.
The same applies to security cameras. You never know what a HO might have experienced to feel the need for installing them.
It’s not only about possessions but the feeling that some intruder has been in your home and I see a huge difference there between only keeping possessions safe and the knowledge that no unwanted person can invade your home.

I certainly understand that watching a sitter is not acceptable at all times, but as a HO I would not agree, if I had any on my property, which I don’t, to turn ALL the cameras off. As I said, there might be reasons a Sitter can’t know about.

Nowadays most systems can be worked with an app so my suggestion would be for the owner to trust the sitter by having him download it (or give access on a computer, whatever is possible) and turn off the cameras while he is in the house but when leaving to turn them on again.
This would meet the sitters need for privacy as well as the HO’s for security.

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Outdoor cameras are for the safety of the HO as well as the sitter. Don’t you feel more secure in an unknown area, knowing a camera is on in the driveway or porch? I know I like having that security wherever I go.

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I absolutely think it’s great to have outside camera’s. In fact, it would be nice to access them as a Sitter. What I’m questioning is having them in the house. A particular HO explained that in addition to the exit/entrances, they were also in the kitchen and main living area.
I honestly never thought to ask anyone if they had camera’s and don’t know how to comfortably ask without sounding like I’m worried about showing what I’m up to. Anyway, funny story… I wear an Apple Watch and track my daily activity. A week or so ago, I was about to go to bed when I noticed that I hadn’t met my Move goal. So, I started running up and down the stairs and dancing around the house (doing all sorts of made up moves) to get my heart rate up and to close my rings. Later, I began wondering if they have cameras and if so if they were ready to call the guys in the white coats to take me to the funny farm (LOL!) Seriously though, I think if a HO is going to have indoor monitoring they should list in in their listing. It’s disappointing to find out about it after going through the process of applying. This eliminates our need to ask and enables us to take a pass if we aren’t comfortable. Just my thoughts/opinions~

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Hi @1gypsygurl well done on your late evening workout that’s motivated determination for sure.

On the subject of security cameras or any surveillance equipment, owners are required to disclose any internal or external devices in their listing and to be totally transparent with sitters before confirming any sits so that they are fully aware. Should a sitter discover devices which are undisclosed they need to communicate this to the owner and inform Membership Services.

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@Angela-CommunityManager Is there a specific question, about cameras (internal/external) in the Welcome Guide that must be answered? I’ve received a Welcome Guide today and I see a section for Alarms and Security Alarms, but nothing specific about internal/external cameras. I see these two things - alarms and cameras - as two distinct types of security systems. Am I misunderstanding, or am I looking in the wrong area of the guide perhaps?

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@Düsenzofe I am certainly NOT proposing that everybody take to the road with a backpack! All I was doing was describing my own decision to do that and I must say I feel alot less burdened as a result. How do you know what I enjoy? You do not even know me! Let me explain what I enjoy with regard to taking on house and pet sitting. I really enjoy travelling and seeing new places. I am enjoying being with all sorts of animals and this is my main motivation for travelling with THS. I have met some lovely HOs doing this work, and this is another aspect that I enjoy in house-sitting. I enjoy arriving at a sit where I have space for my things without having to move 20 teddy bears off of the only surface that might be useable or 15 cushions off a bed before I can get into it! I do not enjoy trying to open kitchen drawers that are so full of equipment that you can’t get anything out. I do not enjoy opening a cupboard where everything falls out on me. In this respect not all sits are enjoyable but I keep doing it because I enjoy being with animals and have met some lovely people. I do believe however that we live in a consumer driven world where we tend to surround ourselves with things that we dont really need. Its strong friendships, family and a love of life that in my opinion should be our focus. As you know we are facing many challenges with climate change and I would suggest that some of this is the result of consumerism out of control. We will in the future see more and more people displaced as a result of our inability to live in balance with nature; there will be many more people with nothing more than a backpack as a result. With regard to security cameras, THS policy is that they be declared in the listing and in the Welcome Guide and then its up to the sitter to decide if they want to take the sit on. While I have no problems with external security cameras, I think, and most people would agree , that use of internal cameras is a gross invasion of privacy.

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@long1016 yes a security camera (especially at night) out on the drive is reassuring but cameras switched on in the house with/without the sitters knowledge while they are in the house, is a gross invasion of privavcy and probably unlawful. Very few people would disagree with that I am sure.

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What about reading my post one more time?
I never said that I find turned on cameras in the house acceptable during a sit.
I asked not to judge why a HO feels the need to install them in the first place, which might not have anything to do with a sitter.

I pointed out that it is quite easy to say that you don’t need many belongings if you use those of others, which you do on sits, don’t you?
I guess it would be much harder without doing sits all the time.
That’s all I am going to say now on this topic.

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Hi @Snowbird there is reference to Camera Equipment in the T&C’s however there are discussions around raising the profile of this item by including a checkbox in listing requirements/Welcome Guide as at the moment the Welcome Guide only references Alarm Systems.

5.2.15 notify the Sitter of the use and location of any CCTV or monitoring equipment prior to commencement of a Sit.

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@Düsenzofe I think we are at odds with each other. Yes of course I use other peoples things while on a sit, how could I not? Is this not part and parcel of the exchange? How much does a HO save by not having to pay for animals to go into care? Not to mention the stress on the animals. It seems like you are trying to make me feel guilty for using peoples things while all I am saying is that I am happy to have my home in a bag and give you some explaination of what I enjoy about sitting. I do have strong views that we gather too much around us and I am entitled to hold those views. I did read your first comment and I never said that you thought cameras on in a house was acceptable (please reread mine!) I have not judged a HO for having security cameras just for protecting possessions; read my other posts where I say its reasonable to have security cameras outside and that that is to the sitters benefit also. I do think it is a gross invasion of privacy for cameras to be on in a house while a sitter is home and you will not sway me on that. I note that you give some advice about deactivating them if they are and I am sure this will benefit some sitters though why should a sitter have to worry about doing that in the first place? Thats all I am going to say for now.

@Angela-CommunityManager @Düsenzofe yes my view is that this issue really should have a higher profile than it does on the THS site. A sitter should not have to worry about going into a home not knowing if they are being watched by a HO. Surely there are laws around this sort of thing? As I have posted elsewhere, outside security cameras work to the benefit of both parties and I would imagine most sitters have no problems with this? Cameras used inside when a sitter leaves a house might also be reasonable provided they are easily deactivated by the sitter when they return. I think where cameras have not be disclosed in the listing and in the Welcome Guide THS should have a stronger stand and rather than be suspended the HO should be removed form the books permanently and possibly even reported to the police! Who knows what sort of images they have recorded and how they might be used?

Thank you for your feedback on this subject @carpediem … this will be picked up by the product team also.

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Oh dear, I better start asking about indoor cameras. My husband has his morning coffee and a read of the news before he puts his clothes on. He sleeps naked. Someone may be sorry to have inside cameras with us two wrinkles and our early morning routine.

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I guess we would get along perfectly if we met in real life :rofl:
It’s often the written thing that sounds offensive because you don’t see the facial expression of the writer.
So no offence meant.
I am also completely with you that turned on indoor cameras must be in the listing and turned off when the sitter is in the house.

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never, never, never cameras inside the house…that’s not what I said…I don’t even want cameras on me while in my own house!

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@Angela-CommunityManager When the product team reviews this issue, please ask them to read the three posts by dlwalsh2 in the thread, “Is it wrong to ask owners if they have cameras in their home?”.

S/he references two different instances of HOs denying that they had hidden cameras, both during the interview and walk-through.

Quote: I use an app called Fing to find all devices connected to a wifi (including hidden cameras). We have sat for a couple different homeowners who had hidden cameras (they had said they didn’t have them during the interview and on our initial walk-through).

As you previously mentioned, including a checkbox in the listing requirements/Welcome Guide would raise the profile of this issue so that sitters can decide in advance if they want to apply for a sit with internal security cameras.

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