We’ve all been there, and we all know it: Excessive noise, whether coming from a neighbor’s house, apartment, patio, balcony, pool or garden, can be a source of incredible frustration and stress. Maybe it’s a group of recent college grads regaling each other with their cocktail-fueled karaoke prowess. Or perhaps it’s a family reunion with a live band that’s keeping it live well into the wee hours. Whatever the source of the sound, loud, sustained noise can interrupt work-from-home concentration. It can also prevent babies from napping, and wake up humans of all ages in all stages of sleep.
Most localities have noise ordinances on the books to regulate excessive noise. They often have additional rules specific to vacation rental noise. These ordinances come with penalties when regulations are violated. But by the time noise rules are violated, it’s often too late. Neighbors have already been disturbed or angered. Often, a crowd has already gathered, creating trash and parking nuisances. And in many cases, property damage has already occurred.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to stop loud noise before neighbors are angered, cops are called, or ordinance-violation fines are triggered? That’s where noise monitoring technology comes in. And here’s what it means for both vacation rental guests, and vacation rental hosts.
- What is noise monitoring?
- How does noise monitoring work?
- What kind of noise is considered excessive?
- Am I being recorded?
- What happens if our group is too noisy?
- How can noise detection help me as a short-term vacation rental guest?
1. What is noise monitoring?
So you’ve rented an Airbnb or VRBO and you’re wondering what that little box on the wall is doing there. That small but amazingly smart sensor is a NoiseAware privacy-safe noise-detection device. It’s designed for an important purpose: to detect excessive noise and gently caution you and your group to take it down a notch before you get in trouble. It does not have the ability to identify individual sounds (sneezes, shouts, flushing toilets, crying babies, your best Johnny Cash impression). It simply measures decibel levels over time.
The sensor does not have a camera or recording function of any kind. It measures noise level only, and, when that noise exceeds the threshold allowed by the host and/or local ordinances for a sustained period of time, it triggers a notification.
Sometimes the notification is set up to go to the host. It can also be set up to message the guest directly. And if you get the sense you’re seeing these devices more frequently in short-term vacation rentals, you’re right. Increasingly, counties are making privacy-safe noise-detection devices a requirement for obtaining a rental permit or license. This is because they are so effective at preventing problems before they happen. And preventing noise problems leads to happier neighbors. And happier neighbors? They lead to less restrictive rules or bans on vacation rentals. And that’s good for guests, hosts, neighborhoods, local businesses, and city tax revenues!
2. How does noise monitoring work?
Like other environmental monitors, such as a thermometer that measures temperature so you can make heating or cooling adjustments, or a smoke detector that alerts you to a fire in your home, NoiseAware measures excessive decibels.
The device uses a proprietary algorithm to track not only how loud a noise is, but how long it is loud for. The sensor measures the decibel level of sound, along with the duration of the sound. This lets it avoid alerting you about sporadic loud sounds, which are part of life, and not considered excessive noise. The rental host can keep track of excessive noise “events” and potential Airbnb parties through a phone app connected to the sensor.
3. What kind of noise is considered excessive?
Again, nobody is interested in notifying short-term-rental guests when they sneeze, or call out for someone to bring the ketchup to the patio, or accidentally drop a pan on the floor. These normal noises are not considered problematic. On the other hand, a rowdy party with loud music and even louder talking/shouting, whether indoors or out, would likely generate an excessive noise warning. It maybe be the sign of an occupancy violation as well. Or even of a full-scale party. Similarly, music or a streamed movie being played at high volume late at night are the kinds of loud, sustained noise that may bother neighbors trying to get a good night’s sleep. These are the kinds of noises that NoiseAware is designed to measure and resolve.
4. Am I being recorded?
No, NoiseAware does not record you, your family, your friends, or any rental guests at any time.
5. What happens if our group is too noisy?
The intention with noise monitoring is to avoid serious noise-related consequences, not to stop short-term-rental guests from enjoying their vacation. If you’re watching a movie at high volume late at night, or blasting tunes by the pool, you may receive a polite reminder message requesting that you turn it down.
In most cases, guests don’t realize they’ve gotten too loud, or that it’s gotten so late while they’re pumping music or doing cannonballs. A simple reminder is all that’s needed to bring the volume down to an acceptable level, and keep neighbors happy. In some cases, when the noise isn’t turned down, a second message may be needed. NoiseAware is designed to prevent real problems like property damage, ordinance violations or a visit from the cops, not to be the fun police. Once the decibels go down, you can go right on enjoying your stay.
6. How can noise monitoring help me as a short-term vacation rental guest?
While a noise-detection system helps vacation-rental hosts protect their neighbors’ rights to peace and quiet, and helps hosts avoid noise-ordinance fines, it also helps protect guests. By detecting excessive noise and letting you know before things get out of control, the system frees you from self-policing, and assures you that neighbors, security or law enforcement won’t come knocking at your door.
It also protects you against false noise complaints, which, though rare, do happen. Sometimes, a neighbor may object to a legally permitted short-term rental house next door, or a similarly permitted unit in their building. And in some cases, the neighbor may try to have fines imposed on the host, or even have the rental permit revoked, by filing a complaint about excessive noise…when no such noise has taken place. In these instances, NoiseAware data can be used to show that the purported noise did not happen as reported. And that can help you, as a guest, avoid negative guest reviews on short-term-rental sites such as Airbnb, and avoid financial penalties for “house rules” violations of the booking agreement.
Positive guest reviews, no late-night knocks on the door or $$$ fines, restful sleep for you and your neighbors—these are the benefits of 100%-privacy-safe noise-measurement technology. That’s what that sensor on the wall is, and why it’s there!