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Should I Have Smart Devices in My Rental Properties?

In a 2015 State of the Smart Home Report, Gartner predicted that average family homes could contain hundreds of smart and connected devices within the next decade. Home builders and homeowners appear ready to invest a lot of money in IoT devices that help control and monitor temperature, security, cooking, entertainment, and even routine hygiene. If connected devices become common in homes, it’s fair to assume that they will also grow more common in rental housing.

Smart Landlords May Consider Investing in Smart Apartments

Renters may have the freedom to buy connected toothbrushes, but by and large, they can’t really choose their large appliances, door locks, security systems, or thermostats. They might not even be able to have a smart TV mounted on the wall. Does this exclude renters from experiencing the advantage of connected devices?

Some property owners have been testing the addition of more smart devices into apartments. According to an interview with the CEO of one smart device provider, landlords have begun to invest in smart appliances for renters for two main reasons:

Competitive advantage: Property owners want to position their properties with a competitive advantage over “normal” apartments. For instance, smart thermostats can conserve energy and track usage. Smart security systems may be more effective and help save money on renters and landlord insurance. These products offer security, convenience, and cost savings, so units that contain them could command higher rents.

Future planning: Smart appliances might appear to be a luxury today; however, it’s possible that they will become expected features very soon. If the IoT becomes common in homes, people will also expect to find them inside of apartments. This should particularly be true of younger renters who grew up with these amenities inside of their own childhood homes.

Some properties even use the addition of a smart device as an incentive for signing or renewing a lease. For instance, some college-oriented apartment complexes offer a smart TV to residents who sign their lease by a certain date. After the student moves out, the apartment complex still gets to keep the TV as an amenity for the next renter.

Barriers to Creating Smart Rental Units

Naturally, some property owners may experience barriers in their transition to smart devices. For instance, housing complexes and units will need good connectivity. However, today’s renters increasingly demand good phone and internet reception, so any upgrades should also help satisfy tenants in that way. Landlords might call upon a communication company to help resolve existing issues. In the future, developers are likely to build new housing with connectivity in mind.

Some tech-challenged renters might have trouble using the new devices. Few property managers want to encourage even more calls to a help line. That’s why some of the first adopters are relying upon companies that can offer service as well as installations. Landlords can look for suppliers who are also willing to support their products.

Why Offer Smart Appliances to Renters?

Property managers can use many of these devices to also gain valuable information about their units. For instance, they might monitor unusual water or energy use to see if there is a problem with the utilities. In addition, these devices can make it easier for managers to control properties. For example, the temperature of a vacant unit could be controlled from a central control panel. Many insurance companies offer discounts for additions like smart security systems, too.

Today, smart devices can make properties more attractive and valuable to renters (this article from Inman covers how smart home technology can help you sell your property listing). Tomorrow, they may be required as basic features. Even if owners and managers aren’t quite ready to move into the age of the IoT, it’s prudent to understand the growth of the IoT and how it might impact rentals in the future.