Need help managing your furnished rental properties? Before you hire a property manager, let smart technology take the wheel. From smart thermostats and smart lighting to connected door locks and smart smoke alarms, installing connected devices lets you keep an eye on your properties from afar and improves security, helping you protect your investment.It also provides extra conveniences for your renters. Here are six simple smart home solutions to consider adding to your corporate rental unit.
1. Smart Door Locks
This is a must-have for any rental property. A smart door lock operates just like a normal lock (so no need to replace your door), but it has a big advantage: you can control it remotely. You can also create new “e-keys” or codes for renters from a smartphone app, and receive alerts informing you who has entered the property and when.
These features make it easy to give renters access without having to go to the property themselves. Plus, there’s no need to worry about re-keying when the tenants leave, as you can simply revoke the e-key or code. Remote access to the lock allows you to let service people in and out without you being there, and it can send you notifications to let you know who has been in your property and when.
2. Video Doorbell
A video doorbell pairs very well with a smart door lock, giving you complete visibility into the comings and goings at your property. This works just like a regular doorbell, except it has a camera inside it. When pressed, the doorbell can also ring a smartphone or tablet allowing you or your tenant to answer the door from wherever you are and see who is there, and – if paired with a smart door lock – let them in the house.
Additionally, video doorbells are an excellent security device as they can be set to activate on motion, so if someone approaches the door but doesn’t press the doorbell, you will still be alerted and can see a live video feed of the front door. For a fee, you can also view recorded footage of the door area.
3. Smart Security System
A security system is an important feature for any rental property, but the benefit of a smart security system is that they are entirely wireless, making installation easier and cheaper. You can have the property secured with professional monitoring when it’s vacant or monitor the property yourself using your smartphone.
In addition to the standard door/window and motion sensors, most smart security systems are compatible with other smart sensors that can ensure the well being of your property beyond the threat of a break-in. These include leak detectors, freeze detectors, temperature monitors and smoke detectors, so you can be alerted if there is anything wrong at your property at any time.
4. Smart Smoke Alarms
Even if a complete smart security system isn’t necessary for your property, consider installing smart smoke detectors. There are a variety of models available — some that self-test, provide a built-in nightlight, or act as a music speaker. But the main reason to get a connected smoke alarm is so you get an alert on your phone if they go off.
Unless they’re connected to a security system, regular smoke alarms only alert the occupants of the house to danger. If there’s no one in the house and a smoke alarm goes off, you may not know of the incident for hours. Invest in some smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarms so you can feel confident that you’ll be notified the moment an incident occurs. If the home is going to be unoccupied for a period, considering placing a WiFi-enabled camera various rooms, so if an alarm is triggered you can check in and see what’s going on, and call the emergency services if needed. And if it is part of a full security system with professional monitoring services, the authorities will be notified immediately as well.
5. Smart Thermostats
A regular programmable thermostat is a great way to reduce the energy use of your HVAC system, but in a rental property —when occupancy is not as predictable — a smart thermostat can save you a lot of money.
Thanks to its connection to the internet, a smart thermostat can be programmed and adjusted remotely, so you can change the schedule to save energy if you know the property will be unoccupied. Some higher-end models will “sense” if anyone is in the home and adjust themselves to keep the space comfortable without wasting energy. Be sure to choose one that can be controlled easily on the device and doesn’t require the tenant to download an app in order for you to use it.
6. Smart Lighting
Reduce energy costs in your rental units with smart lighting. Smart light bulbs, smart light switches paired with LED bulbs,and motion sensors can all help save energy while also giving your tenants added convenience. Walking into a room and triggering the lights to turn on automatically is an excellent feature — one that is sure to impress tenants.
Plan carefully to achieve the right lighting in each room. Lights triggered by motion sensors make the most sense in the kitchen and bathrooms, while remote-control smart light bulbs with dimming capabilities work well in bedrooms and living areas.
The advantage of the connected nature of these lights is that you can remotely control them and set up schedules to save energy or simulate occupancy for security when the property is empty.
Installing smart home devices in your rental property will help boost its security, make it easier for you to manage, and potentially save you money. Just be sure to keep your tenants in mind when selecting products, and don’t install something that will require them to reads manual, download an app, or call you multiple times just to figure out how to turn on the lights. Thankfully, today’s systems make it easy for you to do just that.
Jennifer Pattison Tuohy is a freelance writer and editor covering the intersection of sustainability and technology for XfinityHome. She writes about the smart home, mobile phone-technology, consumer tech, small businesses, and green living for a variety of newspapers, magazines, and online publications.