Seattle SmartRent apartments with home automation irking tenants who can’t opt out

Sep 12, 2019, 12:39 PM

A so-called SmartRent apartment with data-driven home automation that controls everything from the thermostat to the lock might sound convenient, except if you couldn’t opt out.

According to The Stranger, residents at CityLine apartments were a tad surprised to hear that they were automatically signed up for a package that saw their apartment fitted with smart locks, water sensors, a touchscreen thermostat, and wireless hub connecting everything, among other features. The problem is that you can’t really opt out of any of it.

“Say you come home and there’s a note on your door saying you’ve got a smart doorbell and a smart water cooler and a smart refrigerator and a whole bunch of data,” said KIRO Radio’s Todd Herman. “And you’re like, ‘No, I’d like an apartment that doesn’t spy on me. Thanks very much.'”

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“The landlord’s apparently are saying, ‘Yeah, this is not an opt-out situation. We’re going to do this for everybody … and by the way, this thing you didn’t want? It’s an improvement and we’re going to charge you for it.”

While some residents enjoy being able to operate home devices like their lighting and door lock through an app, others are uncomfortable about data sharing between SmartRent and third parties, as well as fears of potential hacking.

Though residents were forced to accept the devices in their apartments, they did have the ability to not use the app, which keeps their data offline but not necessarily from the landlord or SmartRent.

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A CNET reports stated that SmartRent assures tenants that it does not share their data, and that it’s wiped every 30 days.

“I don’t think I’d be a fan of this in any way. I don’t like these devices and I wouldn’t want them in my life,” Todd said. “It is the company’s property. You probably sign something that says they could make improvements like this.”

“But when I hear an idea that’s so good, that’s so brilliant and effective that it has to be forced upon people, I often think it might not be that good for you,” he added.

Listen to The Candy, Mike, and Todd Show weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Seattle SmartRent apartments with home automation irking tenants who can’t opt out