Sense & Hurricane Irma

I own a vacation rental (Airbnb/VRBO) in the hurricane impacted area with renters that are sheltering in place. I am 700 miles away.

The guests are keeping me informed daily but that can seem like an eternity. With Sense I was able to see that that they were making preparations (by making ice) and after the storm that they faired quite well with no loss of power. Coupled with a smart home sensor I could deduct that they were having coffee on the enclosed porch (lanai) after the storm. I have heard from them but I knew by then they were well and the home was intact


That’s Awesome!!! Great to hear stories like this!!!

1 Like

Couldn’t agree more! Thanks for sharing and glad to hear your guests (and your home) are okay.

1 Like

I also use sense to monitor my apartment, booked though Airbnb 90% of the year. I purchase it to learn more about my apartment’s efficiency and to be aware when guests checked out leaving the AC on (once I noticed it was on after 3 days).

I must say that I enjoy a lot to follow the activity closely even though I’m 4,353 mi away, but lately I started worrying that I’m invading my guests privacy, and I thought I should bring that question here before I throw the question to the Airbnb community (I’m sure a lot of people will misunderstand what Sense does).

What you guys think about privacy between Owner x User?

Some of applications I use sense for:

  • Confirm when guests check in: I have a lock box and surprisingly a lot of people struggles to open it
  • Be aware if guests are late to check out
  • Understand how the AC usage compares to the weather and also have an idea of which guests abused it
  • Find out if electric shower consumes too much to estimate consumption if I had a gas water heater)
  • Estimate if the number actual number of guests matches the same number specified during reservation (through shower use)
  • Determine if the cleaning lady is spending enough time at the unity
  • Be prepared for the electric bill

As far as the privacy that’s an interesting question. I think with sense I am dealing with raw data, not personally identifiable data. I don’t know who is taking extra showers, I just know the hot water heater consumes 180% than it should for the number of registered guests Either the heater is failing or they have extra unpaid guests. How is this different than the GPS tracker that the rental car company installed on my last car? Or the logging of search habits that Google is compiling on millions of Americans? It is far less personal, for one thing. I only know if the garbage disposal was run not details of by guests personal habits. The positive side of this is using the data to see what aspects of the home I should ‘renter proof’. A timer on some devices that routinely get left on means lower costs, sense all cost do get pass on the guests this is too their befit.

On many vacation rental sites you’ll find a discussion on owners limiting the temperature selection by tenant or worse still changing the temp remotely. Sense certainly does not reach the same level of big brother overreach.

Most of the data that I get from sense I am able to confirm via home automation anyways. I know the check in check out times from the HA lock. I know if the home watch people really visit every week as they were contracted for (no). I could easily install a HA water meter and see how much water they are using.

Do you advise your tenants what you are doing?

I have a statement within my lease that covers this. No one has objected to it or even questioned it.

Not yet, but have been thinking…

Would you mind sharing it?