Trialled in Edinburgh, the devices listen for potential party activity by monitoring sustained excessive noise, heat and humidity, but have been criticised by privacy campaigners.
Airbnb has rolled out tech to help landlords detect parties being held within properties and prevent the damage, anti-social behaviour and complaints from neighbours that they can cause.
The short-let platform’s website has launched a separate section offering landlords three discounted listening devices that can alert landlords to rowdy behaviour within their properties, two of which are available to UK Airbnb ‘hosts’.
This follows a trial of the devices in Edinburgh, where party houses have become a significant problem.
Airbnb is keen that landlords embrace the kit and is offering one, called Roomonitor, for £30 despite a normal retail price of £126. A second device, called Minut, is being offered for £76 compared to a normal RRP price of £115.
The makers of both devices strenuously reassure landlords that guest privacy is guaranteed. But the more expensive of the two, Minut, monitors much more than noise including temperature, motion and humidity.
All three devices have received a poor welcome from both personal privacy campaigners and the press. The Daily Mail this morning described the devices as ‘creepy’.
But both bits of tech claim not to record sounds but rather sustained noise levels above 70 decibels, although privacy groups claim landlords in traditional rental properties, or hotel owners, would be unlikely to get away with fitting such devices.
Airbnb says potential guests must be warned that devices such as Roomonitor and Minut have been fitted to an Airbnb and include this in their ‘host rules’ section.
These devices are not new; several UK security companies offer listening devices to landlords. But the law is varied and largely non-specific about listening devices like these. Unlike in the US, there is specific law on surveillance within rented properties, and regulations are instead covered by the very general provisions of the Human Rights Act, which offers anyone a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ in their lives unless they are involved in illegal activity, and then only authorised organisation are allowed to fit them.