Over the last several years smart home devices have become incredibly popular as millions of people have installed smart doorbells and smart thermostats. But what people forget is that these devices can store personal information and if you’re moving out you need to take the proper steps to protect your privacy and data.
It’s also important that you disconnect your smart device account from any devices that will remain in the house, so you’re not unintentionally spying on the new owners which can get you into legal hot water.
I run the smart home website One Hour Smart Home and to help you protect your privacy I’ve created a list of things you need to do, before you move to secure your personal information and ensure a smooth transition of smart devices to the next owner.
#1 Make A List Of Your Smart Devices
The first step to protecting your privacy is making a list of your smart devices and then deciding which smart devices tol leave for the new owners and which smart devices you will take with you.
For the most part the new homeowners will expect smart locks, smart thermostats, smart doorbells and smart light switches to stay installed in the home. But you want to make the list inclusive of all smart devices in the home, including smart smoke detectors, smart appliances and any smart voice assistants.
Then on the list detail which devices will stay, and which ones will move with you. It’s a great way to not only create a to do list before you leave but also communicate to the sellers your expectations on how you plan on leaving the home.
One area that I often see get overlooked in smart device lists is built in sound systems like speakers powered by a Sonos Amp. While the built-in speakers should remain installed, it’s really up to you, if you want to take the wireless receivers and amplifiers with you.
Since owning a few Sonos Amp devices can run into the thousands of dollars it’s a good idea to either take these with you or negotiate with the buyers if they want to keep them installed. Often times smart sound systems cost a lot more than a new appliance like a refrigerator or oven so don’t forget about them.
If you do end up taking the devices with you I recommend labeling the existing wires with painters tape and a location of where the wires go so you don’t get any calls from the buyers about the setup or missing information.
The most important thing for protecting your data on your smart home devices is not forgetting that you have them so you can erase the information.
#2 Disclose What Devices Will Stay & Transfer Or Reset
After you’ve made your list of smart devices that will stay in the home it’s. It’s also a good idea to disclose this information to your real estate agent and new homeowners.
It should be noted that some devices like hardwired smart home cameras or doorbells require specialized tools to remove the devices or reset them.
If you still have the tools, it’s a good idea to leave these for the new owners or provide them to the real estate agent for transfer. I’ve been contacted by more than one frantic real estate agent that couldn’t figure out how to reset a smart doorbell and was worried the sellers were spying on the new owners, which could be very unsettling.
For some smart devices it might be much easier to transfer the device to a new account than it is to reset the device. If you agree on transferring the device to a new account it’s best to create a new temporary gmail account and password to transfer all of the information to one temporary username and password.
Once you’ve transferred the device to the new account I recommend logging in and making sure any of your personal settings or information is deleted on the device.
When you confirm your information is safe you can then provide the new owners with the login information so they can transfer the devices to their personal accounts.
#3 Uninstall Smart Devices You Plan on Taking With You
Some devices like wireless security cameras and video doorbells are easy to take with you. They just involve removing them from their mounts. If you plan on using the devices with a new wifi router or password it’s best to reset the devices to factory defaults before you power them down.
However If you are planning on using the same wifi network and router in your new home you can leave the settings on the device and when you plug in your router and smart devices at your new home they should automatically connect to the existing network when you reinstall them.
#4 Factory Reset Any Remaining Devices
Most smart home devices have an easy access setting that will factory reset the device and delete all personal information. For some devices you can easily access the reset menu on the device app while other devices you may need to press a physical reset button on the device. Some devices like the Nest Thermostat have an easy to use interface that allows you to reset the device by going to the built in menu with options for factory resetting the Nest Thermostat. If you’re unsure how to reset your device there are hundreds of videos on youtube that walk users through the reset process or you can look at the manufacturers website for information on resetting the smart home device.