Using non-invasive technology to regulate the sharing economy

If you own or rent a property, there’s a pretty good chance that someone is willing to pay you to stay there for a few nights, whether it’s a family on vacation or a group of college kids on spring break. It’s a great way to make some extra money and cover part (or all) of your rent or mortgage.

Companies such as Airbnb and VRBO have created easy-to-use marketplaces to match travelers with apartments and houses that will meet their needs. It’s a perfect arrangement…until it isn’t. The reality is that while most guests are respectful of the properties they rent, some are not -and they can cause major damage or generate complaints from neighbors that can create long- term problems. Earlier this year, Airbnb paid a San Antonio homeowner nearly $20,000 after a renter threw a massive house party with more than 50 guests who smeared Jell-O on the walls and even urinated in one of the home’s beds. Sadly, this is not an isolated case.

Technology to the Rescue
New technologies are making it possible for homeowners to monitor their properties while complying with privacy laws that protect renters from overly invasive surveillance. The answer is sound monitoring. While actually recording voices may be illegal in many places (and certainly invasive everywhere), checking decibel levels represents the best of both worlds. Sound- monitoring devices that don’t actually pick up specific conversations pass the “smell test” when it comes to guest privacy while at the same time alerting property owners when a unit gets too loud – which is often a clear sign that there is a party or other gathering that may violate the rental agreement.

Of course, loud noises can be caused by one person turning a stereo up too high, but continuous monitoring of a noise sensor can differentiate between a screaming baby and a 100- person rave. It also gives owners the ability to identify problems before they get out of hand, whether that’s a noise complaint from neighbors or thousands of dollars in damage caused by
unauthorized party goers. There’s no single solution to protect rental properties from thoughtless or malicious guests. But by monitoring sound levels, owners now have a legal way to protect their homes while maintaining guest privacy.

David Krauss is co-founder of NoiseAware, the only short-term rental management solution that prevents unexpected costs caused by improper guest activity, defends against false complaints with historical data and improves customers’ reputations among communities and cities.

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