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Travis County residents sue Vrbo after allegedly being recorded during stay near Fredericksburg

According to the lawsuit, police informed the two plaintiffs after their stay that the homeowners had illegally placed video cameras on the property.

AUSTIN, Texas — Two people who stayed in a Kendall County rental home are suing vacation rental company Vrbo and two property owners after they found the homeowners reportedly recorded them secretly with video cameras, according to a lawsuit.

The incident reportedly happened at Cielito Ranch, a vacation rental property in Comfort, Texas, just south of Fredericksburg in Kendall County.

The plaintiffs in the case, who were only identified as Travis County residents, say that police advised them that the homeowners had illegally placed video cameras on the property, including in the bedroom, and were in operation and recording during their stay in August 2020. The two had rented the property through Vrbo believing it was a private enclave, per the suit. At no point, they said, did the defendants disclose that there were video cameras on the property. 

According to the suit, the bedroom camera was placed to capture "illicit videos" of the plaintiffs "in various stages of undress or other intimate and private moments." 

"The ordeal has left the Does feeling extremely violated. Jane Doe in particular has suffered severe emotional distress and post-traumatic stress," the suit stated. "The Does now have a fear of travel and hotel rooms. They will likely never be able to stay in a guest rental home again."

The lawsuit accused Vrbo of having a systematic failure to "prevent harm or appropriately deter this kind of behavior on these properties." It went on to state that the company did not conduct a background investigation into the defendants or "engage in any reasonable evaluation" before allowing the property to be listed. 

After finding out about the video cameras, Vrbo told the users that the hosts may be required to refund the state and that, at most, the violations could result in removal from the rental website, per the suit. 

"This is hardly a deterrent for hosts who decide to engage in any type of contemptible and illegal behavior. Vrbo does not, for example, declare that it will report violations to the police," the suit stated. 

The two plaintiffs are asking for between $250,000 and $5 million, depending on the extent of the plaintiffs' damages.

A spokesperson for Vrbo released the following statement on Wednesday:

"We have a strict, long-standing policy against surveillance devices that violate the privacy and security of our guests. Surveillance devices capturing the inside of a property are never allowed in listings on our platform. Surveillance devices outside a property, such as external security cameras or smart doorbells, are only allowed under specific rules and the host must always disclose their presence on the property listing page. Although these occurrences are rare, our trust and safety team actively investigates any complaints about bad actors and takes action accordingly, including permanently removing any host in violation of our policies."

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