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Use Smart Home Tech to Make Your Short Term Rentals Safer and More Convenient

Investing in properties to run primarily as Airbnb listings is a growing trend —and a profitable one, if done right. But it also comes with its own hurdles to overcome. Monitoring and maintaining multiple properties of any type can be a big task, but Airbnb properties have the added challenge of high renter turnover. The whole model is built to rotate guests through for short-term stays, meaning you’ll have a lot of relative strangers staying in your rentals.

Keeping these types of properties secure is a two-pronged issue. On the one hand, you must keep your guests safe from break-ins and other potential hazards. On the other, you have to keep your properties secure from bad guests. Balancing all that with Airbnb’s strict rules on surveillance equipment can be a challenge.

Get smart about security

Smart home tech can be a big help in keeping up with your properties and making sure both you and your guests are protected. They also allow you to monitor your listings remotely and get alerts about potential emergencies.

At the same time, these devices can also be great features for your guests, providing access to convenient features and helping them feel safe during their stay. In some cases, they may even help you provide better service as a host. A great guest experience can mean great word-of-mouth advertising for your business, so anything you can do to ensure that is well worth the investment.

But which devices should you include? And are there any Airbnb rules you need to keep an eye on? Let’s take a look.

Doorbells that do more than ding

Video doorbells are an excellent way to keep tabs on a property without intruding too much on the privacy of your guests. You do still need to disclose the doorbells explicitly to guests prior to booking, but since they’re outside and can be set to only notify when someone rings the bell, guests might consider them less intrusive than other camera setups.

Video doorbells can also serve another purpose: when guests arrive for the first time, you can have staff greet them virtually and add a personal touch to the experience, even if your team can’t be there physically. They can also come in very handy if a guest is unable to access the home for some reason. The guest could use the doorbell to buzz you or your staff to unlock the door using a smart lock (more on that in a minute).

Video doorbells are also relatively inexpensive compared to other security cameras—a bonus when you need them for several properties.

Ring is one of the biggest names in video doorbells, and the company has had a while to work out kinks in the product. It offers a relatively basic model in the $100 price range, too, where many other models would cost nearly double that. Plan to get one for the front door of each property you manage, and if you need to stagger the purchasing, prioritize the properties that get more frequent use.

Lock it down

When it comes to smart home tech, smart locks are one of the best investments you can make for your listings. Not only are they an added convenience for your guests, but they also allow you to easily revoke access to anyone in the event an issue arises. They also eliminate the possibility of keys being copied and kept. If there’s one device you add to your listings, this should be it.

Depending on the model you choose, you can provide guests with a virtual key or code when they begin their stay, giving them access using just their smartphone. When the stay is up, simply revoke that access and grant a new key to the next guest.

When selecting a smart lock option, you’ll have to choose between retrofit locks and lock replacements. The former will work on top of an existing deadbolt, making the “dumb” lock smart. The latter replaces the standard deadbolt entirely.

August makes a reliable retrofit lock, but you have to make sure the existing lock is compatible—which may be difficult over dozens of properties. Kwikset makes smart locks that replace the existing deadbolt.

Every property will benefit from smart locks, but you should prioritize getting them installed in your properties with frequent turnover.

A different lens

Cameras are a tricky thing in Airbnb units. As the owner, you want the ability to keep tabs on your property and have video records in the event there’s an issue—like an item going missing or a burglary. But your guests have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Airbnb also has very strict rules about cameras in units that require you to disclose any type of surveillance equipment in the home. Failure to do so can result in both you and the listing being flagged for review, which could result in you losing the ability to list units on the service.

All that said, there are some situations where a camera or two can be beneficial. Outdoor cameras can be a great defense against break-ins, for example. Just make sure you’re clear in your listings where and what the cameras cover.

Netgear’s Arlo system is a good option for a low-profile wireless outdoor camera. A basic model kit with one outdoor camera costs under $200, and the wireless setup will be a lot simpler than a wired one.

Most cameras come at a higher price-point than other devices on this list, so start with the properties in areas that have higher instances of property crime and work your way from there.

Where there is smoke…

Smoke detectors these days do a lot more than just chirp when the battery is low and send out false alarms every time a guest overcooks something. Connected smoke detectors can do all sorts of cool things: send soft alerts when smoke is detected in the kitchen before it has a chance to get out of control, for one. The devices can also communicate with each other to pinpoint exactly which room the alarm is being set off in and let you know, so you don’t have to play the guessing game.

Best of all for listing owners, smart smoke detectors can send an alert to your phone when they go off, so you’ll be aware immediately if there’s an issue. This lets you make sure your guests are safe and could also help prevent additional damage to the home. This could be especially important if the listing is vacant at the time of the alarm.

While Nest originally made a name for itself for its smart thermostats, it also offers an all-in-one smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector called the Protect. It can track where smoke originates and send out verbal alerts to occupants while also sending app notifications that there might be an issue.

Any property would benefit from a smart detector, but at the top of the list should be properties that would be harder to reach in an emergency, like those in more rural or secluded areas.

Motion to detect

Motion sensors are one last great way to add a little extra security to your Airbnb listings while still maintaining guest privacy. These devices can be especially useful if there are rooms in a listing that are off-limits for guests.

Airbnb’s surveillance guidelines make motion detectors a bit of a gray area. If the sensors don’t “capture or transmit audio, video, or still images,” they might not be explicitly regulated under the policy, but they may still cause some concerns for guests. Disclose any motion sensors you use to avoid running into problems.

Lots of smart tech and security companies offer motion detectors that are designed to work in tandem with other products, so if you’ve already invested in a system for your properties, stick with that system for easy integration. If you’re still looking for a system to use, Samsung’s SmartThings has motion detectors that install easily and can be linked with other compatible devices.

Bundle up

You have two options for outfitting your units with smart home gear. The first option is to purchase your devices separately from various providers. The second option is to purchase them as a bundled package from a security provider.

Buying your gear a la carte offers the advantage of letting you choose each piece you purchase, so you get a truly customized setup. Some companies even partner with Airbnb to provide discounts on certain devices. You’ll be on the hook for installation and maintenance, though, which could be tedious to oversee across dozens of properties.

Going through an established security company—many of which now offer wireless smart tech that covers security and beyond—may be easier if installation and maintenance are issues. It may also be cheaper to go with professional security and smart tech integration if you want to bundle various equipment and monitoring together.

Whether you just add a couple devices or deck out your properties with a full security suite, smart home tech is a great way to add value to your Airbnb listings and enhance the guest experience. Add a dash of peace of mind for yourself, and you’ve got a winning combination.

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