Home Surveillance - Why Your Housemate Could Be Using A Hidden Camera To Spy On You

19% of renters don’t trust their housemates, according to a national poll conducted on behalf of surveillance specialists Online Spy Shop. Furthermore, 42% of renters have lived with at least one person they didn't trust, and 13% (126 out of 1,000) have conducted surveillance on their housemates. The study revealed alarmingly low levels of trust among housemates across the UK. Large cities with competitive rental markets fared the worst for distrust among housemates, suggesting those with less choice about who they share a home with are more likely to end up living with people they don’t trust.

The study also revealed the following:

  • 42% of people who rent said they’d had at least one housemate they didn’t trust.
  • People in London are least likely to trust housemates - 69% have had at least one housemate they didn’t trust.
  • Followed by people in the North West - 61% have had at least one housemate they didn’t trust.
  • Londoners are the least likely to leave home because of housemate distrust.
  • But Londoners are most likely to conduct surveillance on untrusted housemates.
  • Almost half of the distrusting renters have bought a lock for their door.
  • 30% have conducted some form of surveillance on their housemates.

Why don't we trust our housemates?

Distrust Reasons

The most common reasons given for not trusting a housemate were (respondents could select multiple answers): Invasions of privacy - 79% Concerns about stealing food - 70% Using belongings without permission - 67% Unscrupulous behaviour outside of the home - 49%, Suspected theft of belongings - 33%

Dealing with untrusted housemates

Hiding belongings - including food or money - was the most common way UK renters said they dealt with housemate trust issues. 63% of those who’ve lived with someone they don’t trust admitted doing this. One respondent said they took to purchasing a mini fridge for their bedroom to keep checks on their food and alcohol.   Other ways of dealing with untrusted housemates: 47% say they purchased a lock for their bedroom 22% conducted improvised surveillance, for example, by photographing where they left their belongings to see if they’d moved.

One respondent said they put flour on their carpet to see whether their door had been opened while they were out 8% had conducted digital surveillance, for example, by setting up a webcam or spy camera in their room or around the home. 55% say they eventually moved out

Measure Bar Chart

Housemate trust in London

The issues that result in people sharing homes with people they don’t trust appear to magnify in London. High competition for homes and the higher-than-average expense of moving out appear to be forcing London residents to endure unsuitable living arrangements for longer than the rest of the UK. London residents are more likely than anyone else to share homes with people they don’t trust, but they are the least likely to move out of that home. House-sharers in East Anglia are the least likely to have a housemate they don’t trust.

Area Percentage who’ve lived with at least one person they didn’t trust
London 68.70%
North West 60.91%
Wales 56.00%
West Midlands 55.56%
Yorkshire and the Humber 49.38%
South East 45.39%
Scotland 44.30%
Northern Ireland 31.25%
East Midlands 26.09%
South West 25.56%
North East 23.68%
East Anglia 13.48%

Steve Roberts, the security consultant and founder of www.onlinespyshop.co.uk, who commissioned the study, believes housemate distrust will increase if a choice for renters is limited. He said: “In cities where rent is high, it’s often necessary to share a house rather than rent a one-bed apartment. This means that people will inevitably live with people they don’t know.   “That automatically increases the level of distrust among housemates. It’s not that people move into a house expecting their housemates to be untrustworthy; it’s just a natural response to sharing a home with unknown people.

Hopefully, over time trust grows, but as our study shows, it’s not always the case. “My advice for anyone sharing a home is to assume your housemates are trustworthy until proven otherwise but to take the sensible precautions you’d take in other shared spaces, such as hostels. Keep valuables out of sight".

This is sensible to protect against opportunistic burglars as well as shady housemates. Note serial numbers of expensive items, and don’t leave valuables lying about. “If you have a reason not to trust your housemates or their friends, don’t make unfounded accusations, as this can create stress and conflict. There are apps to turn your laptop or phone into an ad-hoc security camera for your room, or you could invest in a discreet camera to ensure people aren’t accessing your room without permission.

If you get evidence of this happening, consider speaking to your landlord or the police, or if it’s safe to do so, calmly confront your housemate. But don't set up surveillance in any area where your housemate has a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as common areas of the home.”