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CCTV A Mixed Blessing, But Then, So Are Guests

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 I took the plunge and bought ring video doorbells for my holiday lets, I really was better off not knowing!

So what happened? 

A few weeks ago I invested in that Airbnb staple, the video doorbell. Easy to set up with notifications to my phone meant that I could keep an eye on the comings and goings at the apartments. I knew that there would be a certain amount of err… pent up social energy in my guests and I wish to be a good neighbour.

The first challenge was to angle the units so that they didn't pick up all the comings and goings on the street, a mid-range task for my techie abilities but successful. Only the real people using my own entrance would be filmed. A small subscription of £2.50 a month saved the footage to the cloud and I was away.

My first shock came a few days later. A crew of workmen were staying midweek. Contractor stays are a staple of the business. They work long hours, drink a bit but are generally house trained. 11.30pm and the doorbell alerts me. There is the guy from the middle floor of 3, wanders out in his string vest and boxer shorts and has a piddle on the forecourt. Now, forgive my naivety but I thought that a forecourt was RIGHT ON THE STREET. Maybe the bathroom was occupied and he was desperate I thought…I sent the cleaners over to sluice down the area the next morning. The following night at 2.30am he does it again, not a pretty sight but at least they were leaving the next day and maybe he was sleepwalking (out of the flat, down the stairs, out the front door to wee in the forecourt again!).

Last night we had a group of ladies in their forties staying. Although it was a social group I thought that their maturity would ensure a reasonable stay. Every hour, on the hour, until 2.30am they thundered down the stairs to 'ave a fag, swear loudly, sit on the wall outside the downstairs flat (somewhat reminiscent of a certain Viz comic strip) turning the air blue with language and cigarette smoke. They were certainly drunk from their appearance at 8.30pm through to their last turn at 2.30am by which time their clothes were in disarray and they had out their body parts that really should be under wraps. Needless to say, the pleasant family on the ground floor were pretty fed up with this turn of events and complained this morning. The charming guest downstairs was very understanding, not wanting their trip to be ruined with a rude awakening and ejection from myself, but the part of me that is still a Teacher enjoys a good throw-out, so the 'ladies' will be on their way today.

I have lived in Portsmouth for nearly 30 years and, in all that time, have never felt the need to use a forecourt for anything other than bin storage. There is an unwritten rule that forecourts are not a private area. I remember the shock of my North End neighbours (my first place here) at 2 ladies in my street that would sunbathe in their forecourt (we had small north-facing gardens). Not OK!

I hope that the CCTV installation will make me a better neighbour and help to keep a lid on the notorious Airbnb party makers. Airbnb have also introduced measures to block bookings from suspicious sources (local bookings, single night bookings, guests with 0 reviews), If there is a holiday place in your locality get to know the host, have their number to hand and please do not hesitate to complain about any antisocial activity as it happens (the following day is often too late). We have every right to eject guests that are misbehaving and are not afraid to do so. With a bit of cooperation we can make short letting safe and civilised for everyone.

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