6 tech upgrades to attract high-quality residents and improve your rentals’ efficiency

Emily Long
Emily Long | 5 min. read

Published on June 29, 2018

As a property manager, the last thing you want for your units is high turnover. Vacancies left by short-term residents mean missed rent checks and a scramble to find new ones who will stick around for longer.

How can you encourage commitments from residents? Many property managers are realizing the benefits of renovating and upgrading their rental properties to make them a more desirable and safe place to live. For many prospective renters, technology is an important part of a rental—and many are even willing to pay more for it.

While most tech features do require an upfront investment, the potential return—in the form of lower bills, increased rent, and quality renters who will take care of your property—is high. Consider these six technologies to attract and retain residents—in addition to improving the efficiency and increasing the security of your properties.

#1: Smart Thermostat

Attract eco-conscious (and price-sensitive) renters with a smart thermostat. While basic programmable thermostats can be set to turn on and off at certain temperature thresholds, WiFi-enabled smart devices learn your residents’ daily routines to create more efficient heating and cooling patterns with minimal human input.

Smart thermostats can be managed remotely via smartphone app; connected to a voice-activated personal assistant, like the Amazon Echo or Google Home; and programmed to collect and monitor energy use data. Devices with the ENERGY STAR designation save both energy and money, which means lower monthly bills for you and your renters.

#2: Smart Bulbs

After smart thermostats, smart light bulbs are the next most popular tech feature among renters. Bulbs can shine in 16 million colors, rarely need replacing, and can be set up in routines that mimic sunrise, sunset, an arctic aurora, and more. They are also energy-efficient.

Lighting is responsible for 10% of all energy usage in residential buildings and 11% in commercial properties. Experts suggests that smart bulbs may reduce energy costs by up to 90 percent—savings that will be reflected in your property’s utility bills.

#3: Smart Locks

Boost your property’s security and convenience (as well as its “cool” factor) with smart locks. The most basic models currently on the market grant entry via numerical keypads; the most advanced scan biometric data like fingerprints. Most are notoriously difficult to pick compared to a regular deadbolt, which adds an extra layer of protection against break-ins.

Smart locks allow you to create temporary “keys” for contractors and guests—or grant remote access using your smartphone—so you don’t have to be onsite to manage maintenance calls. Another perk: instead of rekeying or rotating locks every time a tenant moves out, simply reset the codes or clear any existing data and reassign the device to your new renter. Plus, you’ll never get another late-night phone call from a resident who’s locked out of their unit!

#4: Motion-Sensing Lights

Automatic lights are, admittedly, less exciting than other tech that you could add to your rentals; but they are an important aesthetic and safety feature, both inside and out. Screw bulbs into existing fixtures in hallways and entryways to light late-night and early-morning comings and goings without requiring residents to flip switches on and off; and install outdoor motion-sensing lights in dark corners of your property to catch potential prowlers off-guard.

#5: Updated Kitchen Appliances

While prospective renters likely don’t expect you to spring for top-of-the-line ranges and dishwashers, updated appliances have great aesthetic appeal—in addition to improved efficiency, cost savings, and ease of use. Upgrade old stoves, refrigerators, and microwaves as necessary, and keep in mind that the cheapest replacement might end up costing you more in repairs over a shorter lifetime.

#6: A Washer/Dryer

For renters, there are few things more frustrating than hauling a laundry bag to and from coin-operated machines in the basement—or worse, a laundromat—every time they run out of clean clothes. If your units have the capacity for a washer and dryer, consider providing this amenity to your residents. Machines come in stackable and combination options for smaller spaces; and with a little bit of creative planning and the help of a plumber, they can be added to units that don’t already have a designated hookup.

Look for ENERGY STAR-certified machines, which will save energy, water, and money for you and your residents. To protect your investment and set clear expectations, lay out in the lease who is responsible for maintenance and repairs.

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Are you installing any new technologies to attract and retain residents to your rental properties? Let us know in the comments!

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Emily Long

Emily Long is a freelance writer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She writes about tech, home automation, and finance with the occasional dive into health and wellness. When she’s not living out of a suitcase, you can find her practicing yoga, running Utah’s best trails, or attempting to perfect her coffee brewing skills. Follow her on Twitter at @emilyanndc.

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