openHAB for rental property: ideas?

Hello everyone,

I was wondering if anyone has implemented openHAB on a rental property…

I am looking for suggestions on how and what configure for a rental property in the following use cases:

  • Long term rental
  • Short term rental (AirBnB)

I have not installed anything yet, therefore I am just looking for ideas in terms of:

  • Which devices make sense to install
  • How to manage groups of people and access rights (to the system)

Many thanks


If I were to install openHAB on a rental. It would most likely be for timers if lights and such. Also to makenna sure all lights are off when the place isn’t empty. Definitely on a short term.

I would probably not do anything if it were a long term rental. I feel you would have too much time than it is worth trying to support.

Keep in mind though for such a simplistic use there is no need for openHAB. Some smart led bulbs can do this using the provider app.

Thanks @Thedannymullen

This is a good start… What about a smart lock? Is it possible to create group of users with “limited permission”? (Let’s say that a guest should not be be to use specific things - e.g. change hot water system setting)…

ATM there is no user concept incooperated into OH.

That would be nice yea, but to my knowledge there is no user/group authentication for openHAB.
You can create sitemaps with only the specific items guest are allowed to access.

@IP_FINAR as it appears the lock feature you are looking for is not available in openHAB. May I suggest you review some smart locks like a halve and August and see if they offer these features in their app. I believe most of them do off multiple codes for different people.

This is indeed a very interesting use case. I am afraid OH doesn’t yet have ACL (access control lists) implemented for Things or UI sections. Maybe in near future. Depends on how many developers we got. I can contribute something once architectural decisions are in place.

For door entry, I have put a couple of Fanvil intercom door entry units in.

They have a web interface that you could remotely access, inside which you can assign access codes and rights schedules.

They also support NFC cards if you want a physical thing to send customers, or within the property for them to use once you’ve let them in.

The SIP phone is useful, if you want it to call you when anyone presses the “door bell” button.
You can remotely open the door during the call.

Here’s a selection of units

I can’t find the model I’ve installed for clients, but this looks very similar.

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Thanks All…

I guess that group and access control could be a good thing in the future…

My guessing is that there is still a gap in the market/solution for rental properties… As a landlord I still don’t see a realistic use case on why should I invest on it… There are few use cases, entry door, temperature control, light control that a short rental (AirBnB) could benefit, but I think we are still far away from a stable solution (correct me if I’m wrong)…

For long rental I don’t see any benefit for a landlord to invest… (Mabe some preventive maintenance?)

Consider how many people are renting (don’t have the stats, but my assumption is that there are more people renting than owninv and living) but there is a HUGE potential market on landlord solutions :wink:

What are your thoughts?

Thanks all!

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The following is purely my opinion, based on life experiences and commercial research for my business/es.

For short term “holiday let” style renting, I would keep the “user experience” as simple and obvious as you can.

The customers simply don’t have the time or inclination to learn how to use your property, and to be frank, they don’t care how much energy your property uses. (Not in a malicious sense, they just aren’t (emotionally) invested in your property)

(And you can believe this bit, if you did really did know how much energy your customers were wasting, you wouldn’t be able to sleep at night)

That said, there is an extremely good use case for being able to remotely control the heating / cooling and access.
You will have customers who can’t operate the simplest of systems and giving a customer a physical key is extremely risky in the long term. (I know this at my cost, which is why I had 3 X quick change door locks and 3 X 45 keys, a digital system would have been SO much easier.
To delete a single access code is totally painless, as is extending an access permission)

From a customer’s perspective, I would NEVER knowingly take on a short term rental property where the owner isn’t more than a quick drive away, because that tells me that the owner isn’t emotionally engaged with their property.
As a customer of a time limited service, if I find something that needs attention, I expect it to be resolved very quickly.

Long term rentals are a completely different scenario.

Before you decide on any kind of tech, you MUST address the following questions.

(These aren’t trick questions)

  1. Are you trying to differentiate your rental property, to appeal to tech savvy tenants?

  2. Will you be advertising the energy usage costs to prospective tenants as a positive reason for them to select your property.

  3. Will your ROI increase as a result of adding the technology.

  4. Will your property be equipped with properly profilable multiple heating / cooling zones? (That is the single biggest cost saving, I see one client saving >€3 per day, per zone. Which paid back their technology investment in less than 3 years)

And most importantly…

  1. Will YOU be available 24/7 to fully support the kit that you’re installing.

While a lot of higher quality building control kit is utterly robust, you will ALWAYS get phone calls or emails stating that “something isn’t working”.

<10% it’s something crazy with a broken wire, failed time update or flat battery in a sensor (which reminds me, DON’T INSTALL battery powered technology)

<10% it’ll be where sensor has been covered or is simply dirty

Most of the time, it’ll be user error.
Which is annoying in itself, but you’ll have to decipher what they’ve done, before you can resolve it.

Which is further complicated because…

“They did nothing” which is normally code for, “They are worried they’ll get charged for doing something silly”

My best advice for any kind of rental property is simply this.

"Spend at least an hour looking closely at your property at the end of EVERY short term rental. USE everything in the property that your customers use.
Every door, every button, every tap, shower, toilet, cupboard & service.

I assure you that it’s better for you to find an issue than your next customer.

90% of the time, everything will be perfect.

But every once in a while, you WILL discover the turd in the kettle. (In my case it was a kebab in kettle, my neighbour wasn’t so lucky with his guests.)

The same applies to long term rentals, there is nothing wrong with scheduling service calls to YOUR property, under the guise of “ensuring your property is up to the standard that your tenant originally contacted it in”

It might well be your tenant’s home, but it will always be your property / investment.

On the thorny subject of equipment stability, my father’s advice still stands…

“Don’t buy cheap S***”

And finally…

As with anything in life…

“Preventative maintenance is your best friend” :slight_smile:


I’m interested in this as well. Have been looking around for a smart home solution for rental properties. It might or might not be OH.

The main requirement for me is the hardware needs to run stand alone. All zigbee, wifi etc. wall switches (like Sonoff, Xiaomi …) all depend on the gateway and when the gateway goes down it doesn’t work any more.

I don’t want to be called “urgently” that the tenant cannot turn off lights any more at any time. So was hoping there were wall switches that behave like the Sonoff ones or Xiaomi ones, that could be connected to OH but that continue to work when the gateway goes down or the central OH system goes down.


You need to look at modular building control systems, where each device is aware of the devices it should react to.

As MDAR Ltd imports and distributes the Velbus range of products, I can only tell you that Velbus kit is extremely robust and due to its modular nature isn’t reliant on a central processor.

Thanks to a great binding that Cédric Boon is developing, OpenHab2 is a really good way of interacting with Velbus hardware.
Using OH2, you can adjust alarm times within Velbus and control every important feature, while not affecting any of the programming within each module.

So, should OH server fail, the Velbus system will carry on :slight_smile:

Check out for more information

Good luck

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I’d second the previous post, maybe rephrasing that the various sub-systems need to be robust, with at least some independent functionality.
OpenHAB is fine for that approach, a supervisory role. Adding smarts, not providing basic function. e.g adjusting thermostat, but not being the thermostat.

Ref comments about entry systems/locks/etc. Where it’s your primary security, you really should use a sub-system designed primarily as a security system.

Not unreasonable or unusual requirement. You just need to dig a bit further.

Example, as Sonoff is a bit of a DIY/hacky/cheap solution anyway, they can be hacked to use a remote wired pushswitch.

At least some of the wireless technologies can be configured to have a wallswitch directly address a light, no hub or central controller involved.

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Perfect :slight_smile:

I’m a small time landlord and I looking into / planning on setting up an openhab system in one of my properties. Basically, I’ve found that renters aren’t always the best at notifying the landlord of maintenance issues. Basically, I want to know about problems before they become major problems. I’m not sure how far I want to go, but here are some of the things I thin might be helpful to a landlord:

  1. notification of water leaks
  2. notification of smoke detectors going off.
  3. notification of temperature dropping below a certain value.
  4. notification of power outage.
  5. notification from glass break sensor
  6. notification if the house is empty for a certain length of time.
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This is certainly all possible with Velbus hardware and OpenHab2.

(Others can advise on other hardware)

A Velbus solution might be…

  • notification of water leaks

Connect a flow monitor (pulse output) to a VMB7IN

OpenHab2 can create an alarm for a constant low flow, or a sustained high flow.

  • notification of smoke detectors going off.

Connect a 0v contact closure from the alarms to a input channel of a VMB7IN

  • notification of temperature dropping below a certain value.

You could use the fantastic glass panels or VMB1TS as temperature sensors, but you’d do just as well using a One-Wire temperature sensor, or an array of sensors.

  • notification of power outage.

You would have to backup the power to your OpenHab2 & internet connection, but yes all possible. (I have a client that does this by detecting the output of a power supply, which holds closed a transistor, which in turn pulls down an input of a VMB7IN)

  • notification from glass break sensor

Again, connect a 0v contact closure from your alarm system to a VMB7IN

I think this is also possible with a GPIO pin, but I don’t know how.

  • notification if the house is empty for a certain length of time.

Here you’re talking about presence detection, which is completely possible with PIR motion detection, network connections, break beam, lighting usage etc, you might be able to get a building alarm to signal an output pin, for connecting to an input device into OpenHab2.
Or simply be alerted if lights aren’t used for 48 hours or more (for an example)
But personally speaking, I would be uncomfortable if I thought my landlord was monitoring my presence (even if as a landlord, knowing if your tenants have run off is a great idea)

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@MDAR I like your business. You have well tested packages of solutions to common property management problems. I was wondering how we could make those packages even more standardized in the market and in terms of software bundles. That is one of the many reasons I am developing Kotlin App/Package support. That would hopefully help you avoid many installation and maintenance labor costs.

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I think there is a delicate balance required. The tech is available to be a creepy stalker and time how long the renter spend in the bathroom. But really we need to know if the place has been abandoned. Perhaps just seeing if the water hasn’t been used in a few days could do the trick. On the flip side, presence detection could be used to notify the tenants when the landlord is on the premises (for repairs or planed inspections) and help promote transparency and reduce false accusations or suspicions.