Texan couple discover spy cameras in Manatee County AirBNB, legal options limited

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Services) – A Texan couple who discovered spy cameras in their Manatee County AirBNB rental and asked the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday for their day in trial court.

The couple were barred from continuing because they agreed to the terms and conditions of the vacation rental.

When a person signs up for AirBNB and most other online platforms, they must first agree to the company’s terms of service. But did the Texan couple agree to be spied on?

The couple, known only as John and Jane Doe, were in the Florida Supreme Court with a difficult argument: ceding their legal rights to a third party was not clearly spelled out.

“They give the power to an arbitrator to make a decision, but that is not meant to displace the inherent authority of the trial court to make that decision as well,” said attorney Tom Seider, who represents the couple.

AirBNB’s lawyer disagreed. “The terms of use begin with all capital letters. Read these terms of use. Your rights and legal remedies are limited, ”said AirBNB attorney Joel Perwin.

The Supreme Court justices asked why the language was not clearer.

“Just three or four, five, six, seven more words that basically say your referee is going to decide whether he or she gets the case or not,” Judge Jorge Labarga said.

Spy cameras were not mentioned in court at all on Wednesday and will never be presented to a judge unless the Supreme Court decides the terms and conditions were not as clear as they could be.

Afterwards, the couple’s attorney said they knew they were waiving some rights, but not others.

“Our contract does not speak of surveillance. He says we’ll arbitrate claims on deposits or if the property doesn’t match what we’ve seen online. We have therefore agreed to arbitrate these claims. We didn’t agree to arbitrate if we were illegally watched, ”Seider said.

On their website, Airbnb expresses itself very clearly on the monitoring of hosts by hosts:

“We require hosts to disclose all security cameras and other recording devices in their listings, and we prohibit all security cameras and other recording devices that are found or observe inside certain private areas. . [such as bedrooms and bathrooms]whether or not they have been disclosed. Intentionally concealed recording devices (such as hidden security cameras) are never allowed.

Only one of at least three Florida appellate courts has ruled against AirBNB in ​​cases like this one. The different conclusions explain why the case is before the Supreme Court. There is no timeline for a decision.

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