BEND, Ore. >> An Oregon judge has ordered a man who rents a house to vacationers to either stop recording a hot tub on the property’s front porch or put up a sign telling guests they’re being recorded.
The case ended Monday with no charges being filed against the Sunriver resort vacation rental owner, who said in court he used the camera for security reasons and to see if employees, such as housekeepers, showed up when they were supposed to, The Bend Bulletin reported.
The owner, 59-year-old Kenneth Neish, later told the newspaper he only wanted to know if the hot tub was left uncovered when children were present and not supervised.
“If I am told I am renting to a family and then I see 25 kids bringing a keg into the home, I need to protect my property,” Neish said, calling the camera practical.
The hidden door-bell camera recorded video and audio. It came to light after Neish called police claiming to hear vacationers talking about LSD. Authorities found no such evidence and no drugs, but told the renters about the camera. Those renters then recalled getting in the tub naked, and became worried for their privacy.
“When we found out, our world was rocked,” renter John Hill said. “Who would go to a vacation rental and be audio and visual recorded? We never expected that.”
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said while the front porch area is within the public domain, and therefore there is not a reasonable right to privacy, the hot tub is a private space.
Hummel said he will not be so lenient next time.
“If you don’t tell them you are going to videotape them and then you videotape them, that’s a crime,” he said. “Going forward, this homeowner and others in similar situations will be charged with a crime.”