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One of the most challenging things about using your primary residence as a short term rental is making sure the guests who are staying there aren’t engaging in behavior that might be offensive to your neighbors or get you in trouble with your condo or homeowners’ association. This is obviously difficult to do, given the fact that you’re not present while your place is being rented.
As a result, many Airbnb hosts opt to use noise monitoring devices to keep guests in line and prevent any unpleasant surprises. Currently there are only a few different options available on the market. Let’s take a look at each of these in greater detail below.
NoiseAware is a privacy-safe, noise monitoring system that was actually developed by a fellow Airbnb host after the company’s co-founder rented to a guest who ended up throwing a raging party. He returned to a horrible mess, along with a cease and desist letter from his building and several angry neighbors. It was a costly nightmare (he lost $30k) that inspired him to develop what’s now known as a “smoke detector for noise.”
The way it works is simple. Just plug in the sensors, download the NoiseAware app, connect to WiFi and start monitoring. The company offers both indoor and outdoor sensors and you can install as many as you need, based on how large your short term rental property is. Once it’s set up, you can monitor your property remotely and receive alerts if there’s an issue. Most importantly, NoiseAware does not record any audio, so it doesn’t violate guest privacy in any way.
I tried Generation 2 of NoiseAware for indoor noise monitoring, since their website didn’t specify at the time that it was for outdoor use only. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for my purposes, as I needed to monitor indoor decibels that impacted neighbors with shared walls, so I had to return it. I have yet to try their newer generation designed for indoor use.
Minut is a discreet, light-weight and non-intrusive device that enables you to remotely monitor the noise level of your Airbnb. Simply install the device (which mounts magnetically to the ceiling), set up your account and you’ll be good to go. Check in any time or receive instant alerts if something is wrong. Minut is an all-in-one device that also monitors movement, temperature, sound, humidity, pressure and even the risk of mold growing.
One of the coolest features of Minut is that it allows you to create a trusted network of local friends and family. If something happens in your short term rental while you’re away, Minut will seek assistance from your network to make sure your home is safe. The only downside to this product compared to NoiseAware is that it only offers indoor sensors.
After I bought (and returned) the 2nd generation NoiseAware device, I purchased this version of Minut, which worked perfectly for my needs. It notified me when noise levels reached a preset decibel level, and also let me know when my battery was running low so I could charge it.
While this third device doesn’t do short term rental noise monitoring, it’s still worth mentioning as it’s designed to prevent parties (great for parents of teenagers AND short term rental hosts). The in-home sensor works by counting the number of mobile devices within the detection range (even those not connected to your WiFi) and alerting you if the number goes above your predefined limit. It’s privacy-friendly and designed specifically for detached homes, which makes it great for Airbnb rentals. In fact, it was designed by short term rental hosts.
To install Party Squasher, simply hook the tiny device up to your router and customize it to your home size via the app. In the event that the number of devices detected exceeds your specified limit, you’ll receive a text message notification so you can call the guest to find out what’s going on.
It’s important to point out that while monitoring noise and number of phones is acceptable by most short term rental platforms (Airbnb, VRBO, Home Away, etc.), most have strict and specific rules about other types of monitoring and surveillance.
For instance, Airbnb’s rules prohibit the use of “any mechanism that can be used to capture or transmit audio, video, or still images,” including “WiFi cameras, nanny cameras, web cameras in computer monitors, baby monitors, mounted or installed surveillance systems, decibel and device monitors, and smart phones with video and/or audio recording capabilities.”
If you do have any of these devices, you are required to disclose their presence, even if they will be turned off during your guests’ stay. However, because the devices listed above do not capture, transmit or record audio beyond noise level, you can freely use them in your short term rental. And with so much on the line, they are well worth the investment.
If you’re considering further levels of security for your short term rental, you may be interested in my take on cameras for Airbnbs.