Technology has revolutionised how we live our lives. From home computers to smart appliances, most homes have multiple tech devices. They save us money, time, reduce energy usage, and make modern life a whole lot easier than it was 50 years ago. Smart devices are at the forefront of the technological revolution. They are ordinary objects blessed with enormous power. Many are connected to the internet, gathering and sharing data, interacting with is in multiple ways. We don’t yet share our home with robots, but arguably, Amazon’s Alexa is the next best thing!
The rise of smart tech and the Internet of Things isn’t just a blessing for ordinary folk – it can offer many benefits to private landlords, too. If you’re late to the party, read on for an overview of how smart technology can help landlords save cash, attract tenants, and do their bit for the environment.
Designed to replace old gas and electric meters, smart meters do the same job but with extra connectivity. You or your tenants don’t need to take readings from a smart meter – data is transmitted automatically. No more inaccurate estimated bills. It’s also easier to monitor energy usage when you have a smart meter, which is great for tenants on a low income. Landlord Vision says that smart meters are especially useful when bills are included in the rent. Landlords can see at a glance how much energy a tenant is using and make adjustments accordingly.
Thanks to the wonders of modern smartphones, it’s incredibly easy to connect with tenants via video calling (once you have found them through advertising on Rightmove and Zoopla)! Virtual tours are an excellent marketing tool. Not all prospective tenants have the time or means to view a property - and not all landlords do either. Some might be living overseas when searching for a suitable property to rent. It’s a lot easier for them to view a property virtually. Remote viewings are also useful for landlords seeking new tenants during the coronavirus lockdown.
Video calling is handy if you want to diagnose any maintenance issues with the property. Rather than taking time out of your day to check on something reported by a tenant, ask them to FaceTime or Skype you. They can show you the issue via video feed and you can then make an informed decision about what to do next.
Smart Home Devices
Smart home devices run the gamut of smart speakers and smart thermostats to smart doorbells and smart locks. Smart LightingIt’s a no-brainer to switch to LED lighting. LED lights are far more energy-efficient and many bulbs have a rated lifespan of up to 50k hours, which equates to more than 11 years under normal usage. Smart lights take this a bit further, by making it easier to control a property’s lighting.
Features include motion-detection, so lights automatically turn on and off, and customisation. Smart lighting boosts security in empty properties, as lights can be pre-set to switch on in the evenings, even when nobody is home. This will appeal to professionals and students, as well as protect your property during void periods. Smart lighting is also handy for HMO communal areas. If lights only turn on when movement is detected in a room, it saves energy. In a high-end rental, app-controlled mood lighting can be a great selling point.
Related: New Minimum Energy Efficiency Laws for Landlords
Smart thermostats are a very handy energy-saving feature. These AI devices learn when heating needs to be on and when it doesn’t. You can also remote control the central heating from a smartphone. Do you have a viewing booked? Turn the heating up in the property so it’s warm and toasty when tenants arrive. Some landlords also use smart thermostats to control their rental property’s central heating and hot water remotely.
Again, this is useful if bills are included in the rent and you don’t want tenants running up huge bills by having the heating on 24/7. However, you do need to be sensible and fair about how you control the heating/hot water, ensuring you meet your responsibilities as a landlord in regards to heating and water.
Security is a concern for landlords with properties in riskier areas. Installing a smart lock gives you more control over who enters the property and keys become a thing of the past – which is handy if you manage student lets. You don’t need to worry about tenants forgetting to lock the door either. Smart lock geofencing technology automatically detects when a key holder is in the vicinity – and if they are not, the lock instantly engages. There is also an auto-lock feature, which locks doors after a specified time, so doors are not inadvertently left open all night.
Another benefit of smart locks is that doors can be locked and unlocked remotely. Landlords can open doors to let trades enter, without having to be present. If you manage a holiday let or short-term let, smart locks make life much easier. Rather than organising a key collection, give your tenants a digital passcode. This is far safer than leaving a key under a plant pot.
Tenants in high-end rentals will appreciate the extra security afforded by a smart doorbell and this could be a useful selling point, especially for foreign students with overprotective parents. Doorbells with integral cameras allow residents to check who’s at the door before they open it. These systems can also be integrated with AI smart home assistants such as Alexa.
Smart Smoke Detectors
Smart smoke detectors enhance safety in a rental property, especially one that’s empty. There are many causes of house fires, most notably cooking equipment and smoking, but some such as faulty wiring or electrical equipment can occur even when there’s nobody at home.The great thing about smart smoke detectors is that they send real-time alerts to your smartphone. If a fire is detected, you can take action immediately, no matter where you are. Devices typically come with a ten-year battery life and are self-testing.
It’s definitely worth embracing smart home technology. Many of these devices can save time and money, which is not to be sniffed at given the current challenges of the private rental sector! How many smart tech devices have you invested in for your rental properties?
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