The Latest Trend in Apartment Living Hits Seattle: Forced Installation of "Smart" Devices

Comments

1

Your primitive coin is no good here, pleb. Enjoy the same substandard lemon-grade hardware that will not dry your linens whether you have WiFi access or not. Or, go pin your garish and gaudy frocks on a wire clothesline like to absorb our great rain shadow like a sponge. Or get thee to the cleaners, maybe you'll make a friend!

2

Let's face it, your data and my data has gone everywhere for the last 15 to 20 years.
The lack of privacy is nothing new.
The one advantage to smart systems that I see is earlier detection of water damage, as water leaks inside walls are notoriously damaging, and expensive to both tenant and landlord.

3

resistance is futile

5

@4 You sure about that? https://sense.com/

6

@4 Right! And there's no way to tell how much current a TV draws vs. a hairdryer. And so many people like to run their microwaves fourteen hours straight. You know, for that super burnt popcorn flavor!
Whatever, it's easier to just call you a moron. Enjoy your 1984 lifestyle. Sucks there's so many people like you they drag the intelligent people down too.

7

There's nothing new under the sun. Landlords have always been forcing "improvements" on tenants. Many years ago, I had no choice but to have cable installed in my apartment (it left a badly patched hole in the wall I was told I was responsible for fixing), and brought endless harassing "visits" and phone calls from cable company reps trying to sign me up. My rent was also bumped (a surcharge added) because I now lived in a "cable ready" apartment.

My only advice is to read your lease very carefully before you sign it. After my cable experience, I was advised by a lawyer friend to cross out any clauses I didn't agree to before signing a lease. If the potential landlord had a problem with my limited, reasonable objections, he said, you don't really want to live there. It worked for me as a renter in other cities, but then I also always avoided renting in massive apartment communities or from large-scale apartment management companies. However, I don't know if lease amending would work under local rental laws and regs here. Shrug.

8

And the "urbanists" wonder why people insist on moving to the suburbs, or clinging to their single-family residences. Here it is, assholes. Maybe, just maybe, people just might prefer that their microwave ovens aren't snooping on them.

9

"The water sensors alert landlords to possible leaks, which allows them to act and save on repairs without having to wait for a tenant to report the issue—a tenant who might be too nervous to put in a maintenance request for fear of retaliation. "

You seem to be simultaneously arguing that a) a landlord would want to know about a water leak and b) that the tenant would feel that the landlord would be angry at the leak being reported & would retaliate. I don't think you can have this both ways.

I can see some issues with this tech, but finding and fixing a major water leak benefits everyone. As long as landlords are responsible for things like that, they need to know about them.

10

Smart locks and water flow sensors have been de rigeur for awhile now. I'd be surprised if there's a 10+ unit building built in the past 15 years without them. This is not news.

11

There are provisions under both Washington State and Seattle landlord-tenant laws regarding third-party contractors that could be used by tenants to combat this, but they aren't as robust as they should be. And in any case, it should never be possible to force mid-lease, even with existing laws.

Kshama and company, if you want to do something truly popular and useful, revise the laws to ban anything like this being forced on tenants, even if they don't have to use the app, etc.

This also goes for forced use of third-party billing systems or utility billers by landlords, often where you have to provide bank info for them to auto-grab the funds from. Direct payment to the landlord by check or e-payment should always be legally allowable payment methods without ever even having to sign up with any third party.

This legislation should be simple to write. Please, City Council, act on this, ASAP!

13

@10: You sound like a landlord or landlord apologist, and what you say is not true. Smartlocks have not been standard for 15 years (and you know that), hence the reactions in this article. They are also a huge security hole that leave tenants vulnerable just for the gain in convenience, power and data-gathering of landlords.

15

@12: It's not just a smart meter, though: did you intentionally ignore the reference to the "smart plug for appliances"? It's really not my landlord's business what my individual electric use is, let alone at the plug-by-plug level... I pay that 100%, it's not part of any common usage.

16

@14: Yes, which is exactly what I said: some provisions exist in the law. They are also not as robust as they should be even regarding third-party billing, and provide only limited protection against the kind of thing discussed in this current article, because they weren't designed for it.

18

What happens if there is power or phone outage?

19

Seems like it's in a Landlord's Best Interests to install not only microphones but also cameras. If you have nothing to Hide, you have nothing to Fear. Plus, maybe (just maybe!) you'll get a share of the Residuals.

@18 -- Well, I guess you're just gonna hafta WAIT
til the power comes back on to enter your Domicile.

Oh, and if it's a SmartLock, will it let you out if there's no power?
Might get a little uncomfortable, in a fire, for instance.

20

Oh, and it'll be super Handy for Amazonian
deliverers to just pop in for a quick snack
and package drop-off.

And perhaps a cocktail, or two, if there's Time...

Oh -- they can also check to see if
you're Out of anything, too.

21

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

22

@13 lol this is the dumbest fucking take I've seen on here. "Landlord apologist"? Get the fuck outta here with your mental shit, dummy.

23

@18/19 it works the other way around: The power keeps your door locked. During a power outage, the main lock is open (your deadbolt, if you have one, is still a plain old simple machine)

24

Geez, what a bunch of whingers. For one thing, I don't know why your so paranoid about your 'privacy'. Most of your lives aren't that interesting.

Second, it's not your home. You're renting. R-E-N-T-I-N-G. You're a tenant. It has its pros and cons. You don't have to worry about putting a new roof on or painting the place, but at the end of the day, it's someone else's crib; get over it.

Don't like it? Then move. Or skip the weed and avocado toast, cut back on that 3-venti-caramel-macchiato-a-day habit, and maybe you can buy your own place.

25

First, they came for the renters (whingers,) (who had shit to Hide,) (but could not afford Privacy). But I scoffed at their misgivings and Bootstrapped their whingey asses (when a better tip wouldda been one of my fawking Wingtips.).

And saved Seattle!
Bravo!

26

Thanks, Sporty.
I can breathe easier.

27

@22/23: So you agree, smartlocks haven't been standard for 15 years at all... but you couldn't just admit that, had to go all pathetic with a swearing rant instead. Poor guy.

As far as what you claim, if that were true, then for those with only a smartlock and no deadbolt (which would be most if not all, since adding a deadbolt also defeats any "features" of a smartlock), during a power outage your apartment would be open to anyone and everyone, looters and others. These complexes aren't going to allow separate deadbolts, they want access via 4-digit code, and that prevents it.

28

@24: Another landlord, apparently. Average Seattleites don't get so worked up against other people wanting to protect their privacy rights.

Privacy isn't about how "interesting" you are. It's about control and safety. Data about you can be used to control and manipulate you, and will likely be bought and sold beyond just your landlord. With any large future purchase, from a car to home to insurance to you name it, the seller will be able to buy info about you that puts you at a bargaining disadvantage: it costs you. People with even less noble motives can also buy data. Then there's the issue of your front door being in the cloud, with wireless lock technology that has been shown to be very hackable. So then it becomes all of your possessions at risk, not just info about your boring life.

No sentient human without a vested interest in the smart-device industry would object to these obvious problems being raised... only someone with a personal interest in forcing the tech, such as someone affiliated with one of the suppliers, or a landlord.

The people trying to defend this here are like the Russians who post on Trump stories. Obvious and disingenuous.

29

So, in a power outage
(or when some miscreant
finds the fuse box / panel)
I'm (likely) wide open?!

Well, that's surely a comfort.

30

The DMV sells your data and you don't mind. Ahh, but that's government so it must be ok. Lol

31

It’s really funny watching everyone who treats their landlord like shit hating on landlords.

Just locked in my 2 bedroom for another year at $40 more than I was paying three years ago.

For what your “average Seattleite” would be lucky to find a studio for.

“Self interest”.

I be nice and clean my walkway because it is in my self interest to do so.

You’re still mad at your parents.

32

@22 - No shit. "landlord apologist" is about the stupidest phrase I have ever heard.

@27 - do you have any idea how a rental complex actually works? Of course your landlord is not going to allow a separate deadbolt he/she can't open. There are legitimate reasons they might need to get in in an emergency (for example, your tub is overflowing and wrecking the place downstairs), or there is a fire). That is perfectly legal and makes sense.

33

@David unless your lights are on a dimmer, it seems like I could filter out lights from power usage pretty easily; they're constant and usually a pretty standard wattage. Microwave vs hairdryer seems pretty easy too just by looking at timing and duration. Appliances that self regulate like fridges and water heaters should have a unique signature ... I don't know, doesn't seem that hard to identify these things, even when they're overlaid?

34

@32: It was Sportlandia who made that claim ("your deadbolt, if you have one, is still a plain old simple machine"). I was refuting it. You're not even following things, you're just mad.

35

@31: You're delusional if you think they're making this optional for renters who treat their landlord especially nice. And most people don't treat their landlord like shit, you're not as special as you like to think you are.

36

Your adversarial stance is quite apparent, and I’ve always thought it funny that people take their first steps out into the big scary world are against the idea of finally having to pay for shit.

If you knew anything about your average Seattleite, Sporty, or myself you’d know this, you’d know that Sporty, as of my most recent recollection, does not own(and where he’s located), and you’d know I’m quite fucking special, thanks.

But do tell, what made you decide I think I’m so special? “Since most people are nice to their landlord, you think think you are special”.

I’m assuming smart locks either have batteries with quite a lifespan or that they do, in fact, operate as simple machines, which they are, and which has been detailed in this thread.

A quick google search mentions manual overrides, emergency overrides, and, yes, you guessed it, batteries.

Champ.

37

@34- I was addressing your complaint that "These complexes aren't going to allow separate deadbolts, they want access via 4-digit code, and that prevents it," not the part about them being simple machines.

My point is that landlords have legitimate reasons for needing emergency access. Your blind hatred of landlords (and the ultra-hilarious "landlord apologists" you also loathe) has apparently made you unable to see how some (not all, but some) of these smart devices make sense. Further, landlords are required to change the locks when an apartment turns over. These digital devices make that much cheaper - that is a cost that the landlords don't need to pass on. It's one less thing to put upward pressure on rents.

39

@36: Bragging about your great rent supposedly because you're nice and clean your walkway while others must just "hate their parents" is what makes you come across as thinking you're something special. But you knew that already.

Take your complaints up with Sporty then, he's the one that made the claims. But no, smart locks are not "simple machines".

You seem to have this fantasy idea that I (and anyone else who has issues with the endless abuses of corporate landlording) am a young, new renter who just doesn't know how to cope with renting. But the reality is, landlord-tenant law exists for a reason, and it was put in place by adult legislators who saw that need, not by teen renters. That law has also needed periodic updates as landlords find new ways to abuse their tenants. It's time once again.

40

@37: The cost of changing the lock at tenant turnover is small and pales in comparison to the risk of having nothing more than a vulnerable 4-digit code between me and the world. I guess you missed the reference to these systems already being hacked. "Slightly cheaper" is not a plus when it comes to my security.

So only "some" of these devices make sense to you? Which ones don't?

41

You know when rich brats show up, extolling their own abject lack of virtue, and bitch about everything you never had?

1530 for a 2 bedroom w/ a covered walkway(which currently contains a kayak and a punching bag I use far too rarely). This includes “my own parking spot”, which is left for me no matter how far I wander off for.

Coffee is ten seconds away. A haircut, a minute.

Pretty fucking good rent. Afraid I’m still going to wander off eventually, because, well, how pathetic.

From the registers that hold the charges to the gates in the circuits to the mechanisms that hit the pins and move the bolt, it’s a simple machine.

It’s really fucking stupid to have a corporate landlord.

I wish I could sleep.

42

@27 no? I don't understand what my comments at 22/23 have to do with standardization of smart locks at all. What I do know is that I moved into my first smart-lock building in Seattle in 2004.

43

My apartment is brand new, I am the first tenant. I have a completely air-gapped door lock that requires the presence of a unique physical token to lock or unlock.

44

It's funny that people don't seem to realize mechanical locks are pretty easy to "hack". There's even a term for it you may have heard: "lock picking".

Now I'm not saying it's equal or better to use a smart lock. An electronic lock likely has more vulnerabilities that can be more quietly exploited.

(Of course with respect to (data) privacy arguments, it's neither here nor there.)

45

My concern would be less about privacy and more about the shit not working! Door won't unlock? Just wait until we diagnose the problem and reboot the system - should only take an hour.

Much of the building I work in is "smart" specifically the bathrooms. Motion sensors for every damn thing. I might get soap to wash my hands - if the dispenser sensor feels like working. This is after the toilet has flushed 3x (before I was even done) then didn't flush when needed. I gave up and brought in my own damn soap because I can't count on the robot bathroom supplying it. Can't imagine an entire apartment full of shit that can freeze up at any given time.

46

Fans of Phillip K. Dick should be very afraid. "Smart Apartments" feature heavily in his stories. You need to pay $$$$ just to open your own door in some instances, or $$$ just to turn the water on. I can imagine a "Brazil" type screw up where the management electronically locks out a tenant late on their rent, only to find the wrong person has been locked out. Anyone who's worked for a company with an extensive network system knows how often problems can crop up.

47

@28: Ya got me, Sparky...yes, I am a landlord. I've had good tenants (who I've kept by charging below-market rents), and entitled dicks (who I force out by jacking the rent up into the stratosphere - BUWAHAHAHAHAAHAAA!)

Behold A Male Cow gets it: if you don't own, you can really drive the bus if you take care of your landlord's property, and don't act like an entitled little snowflake.

48

BTW, I'm working through the process of evicting a tenant who's decided they don't want to pay rent. Thanks to the Rules of Engagement imposed on us by the SJWs on the City Council, it's going to take months, and cost me a fuckload of money. Guess what? I'm going to make it back by spreading the cost across my responsible tenants.

Goofball concepts like 'Tenants Rights' and 'Rent Control' may sound great in concept, but you'd better look for The Devil in the Details, 'coz that's why your rent is going up. Just sayin'...

49

@40 - I'm not doing the math on how much risk you feel an electronic lock presents - that is up to you. Just pointing out that the cost of changing locks is one more thing that goes into your landlord's expenses and ultimately contributes to what you get charged for rent. None of the things that the city mandates are free - they all add up & raise the expenses of providing housing.

50

@46 - it is flatly illegal to lock a tenant out for non-payment of rent.

51

@47/48: Yeah, it was pretty transparent that you're a landlord. "Entitled"? People are entitled to what their lease and the law provides them... too often, landlords want to weasel out of whatever they can, once the lease is signed... because of the leverage they have over tenants due to the nature of housing, unlike the vast majority of business transactions. In your case, unless a tenant is submissive regarding what they're entitled to, you admit you "force them out" by jacking up the rent. Not surprised someone has simply stopped paying rent on you. If you were as great a landlord as you like to think, that wouldn't happen. But a smart landlord would just wait until their lease expires and then not renew, rather than going through the expensive months-long eviction process. But I get it, you're a vindictive dick. BTW, when did I ever mention rent control? I didn't... in a well-regulated market, that's counterproductive.

52

@49 The cost of re-keying a lock at tenant changeover is nominal in this age of $2K/month rents. It's not an argument. Particularly when these new smart locks cost $1,000 per lock to install... you think THAT isn't being added to your rent!?
Fact is, this tech is insecure, privacy-invading, and only benefits the landlord, at the expense of the tenant. The only people trying to defend it here are landlords.

53

Smart Apartment=Surveillance Apartment. Only holding your info/data for thirty days makes one ponder how long it takes to sell it?

54

@40 - since you asked, the auto-flush toilets someone mentioned don't make sense to me nor do internet-enabled thermostats. Smart plugs on appliances have their uses but there's nothing wrong with a light switch on the wall. The refrigerators that we keep getting promised that will make sure we never run out of milk are ridiculous.

Incidentally, the smart electric meters that people here are so concerned over have nothing to do with your landlord. City Light came out and put them on - they didn't ask building owners about it. Your landlord doesn't get any data from it. The only time I see a tenants' electric bill is when they don't pay it and the City looks to me for the money. So any complaints would be with our public-owned non-profit utility, not Snidely Whiplash the landlord.

56

@55 If it is, he would surely have disconnected the sensor to stop the mean landlord from knowing about it. Perhaps he drowned before they detected the leak.