Choosing the Right Smart Home Technology for Rental Housing

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Arize

In our connected world, even our homes are becoming smarter. The term is ‘smart technology’ and it is changing the way that apartment communities are being managed. Here are the answers to common questions regarding this fresh new concept.

  • Q: What is a smart apartment / smart home?

Smart apartments and homes use internet-connected devices to monitor and manage the home remotely, using a simple phone application. This includes everything from appliances and utilities to temperature and lighting controls. Think of it this way: just as your mobile phone has iOS and Android that connect us to just about all of our daily tasks, they now also connect us to our most important asset—our homes!

Smart apartments are very versatile and offer something for every tenant. In fact, they can be equipped with EACH AND EVERY ONE of the following smart devices (Note: all these devices allow for 24/7 monitoring and response): Smoke detector alerts, smart lighting control, thermostat automation, water leak detectors, keyless entry/smart locks, entry sensors (e.g., windows and doors), motion sensors and more. Additionally, smart apartment devices can all be automated onto one simple, streamlined platform.

  • Q: What is tenant demand for smart apartment technology?

Demand for smart home devices is on an upward trajectory, with the total amount of specific smart home devices shipped per year forecasted to increase to nearly 1.5 million by 2024.

  • Q: Why smart apartments?

The answer to what makes smart apartments a good idea is two-fold. First, from the tenant’s perspective, residents get the convenience of smart devices without having to purchase or install them.  Then, from the property manager’s perspective,property managers get more streamlined property data and management capabilities.

  • Q: How does smart apartment tech streamline multifamily properties?

The three main ways that smart apartment technology streamlines multifamily properties is through mitigating disasters, increasing net operating income (NOI), and boosting efficiency.  Regarding disaster mitigation: Smart technology effective, particularly as it relates to mitigating disasters like apartment flooding. With $2.5 billion in insurance claims due to water damage and mold each year, this type of disaster is a major worry for property ownership and staff. The key to conserving your maintenance and repair monies is to never have to pay them out in the first place.

While a long list of preventative inspections may seem like a logical answer, this would-be solution poses its own large set of problems. Tenants are inconvenienced (and even get annoyed) with these types of invasive inspections and they also require excessive time and attention from maintenance and management personnel. This is where smart property automation comes in.  Smart water detection systems provide real-time response to property managers when moisture is detected inside their community’s apartments. This early warning system enables PMs to act quickly, which enables them to stop flooding costs before they have a chance to spiral out of control. These costs include the various levels or “colors” of water damage as well as mold remediation and general labor plus materials.  An example of white-water extraction would be the drying of a kitchen area that has been flooded with “clean” water.  Even though white water is the least expensive of the three types of water, extraction can cost upwards of $1,000 each occurrence.  Grey water is water that has been used for washing dishes and clothes as well as bathing. The cost of damage due to grey water, which can harbor dangerous bacteria and viruses, is an average of $3,000, according to fixr.com.  Black water is wastewater that comes from the toilets of multifamily homes.  Since exposure to black water leads to diseases and infections like hepatitis and gastroenteritis, black water home flooding must be avoided at all costs. In addition to  its health hazards, black water damage repair costs up to $8,000 per occurrence.  Additionally, the average cost of mold remediation is $3,500 and up.  

Here is a snapshot of labor and materials costs. Note that these costs may be more expensive in areas where the costs of specific items and labor run higher:

  • Replacing damaged drywall (demolition/ reconstruction phase): $1.40 per sq. ft.
  • Repairing damaged plaster walls (demolition/ reconstruction phase): $6.25 – $18.75 per sq. ft.
  • Refinishing hardwood floors (restoration phase): $10.45 per sq. ft.
  • Replacing carpets (restoration phase): $4.70 – $5.50 per sq. ft.
  • Woodwork (reconstruction phase): $70.00 per hour for carpentry work
  • Mold remediation (cleaning phase): $5.00 per sq. ft.

So, let us circle back to the point about how smart tech increases efficiency and net operating income. To address the point about efficiency, a quick story may help.

Recently, a Los Angeles-based property manager named Liz had a busy Friday. After coming into the office and sitting her coffee down on her desk, Liz reached for her mouse cursor. Clicking, she brought up the smart dashboard that gives her an overview of the entire 200-unit complex she manages. The smart technology on Liz’s dashboard told her that 10 of her units were experiencing low battery alerts for fire alarms.  Then there was the water leak in unit no. 31 and the smoke detector had gone off the previous night in one of the adjacent units.  Finally, the tour she needed to give to her potential tenants popped up. To top it all off, her boss finally granted her time for that meeting today; the one that she could not afford to miss.  Scanning her dashboard for the other smart safety and security alerts that kept pouring in, she took a deep breath and pressed on.

Her smart dashboard, which eliminates the need to physically inspect each individual unit, immediately began saving her time. After shooting off emails to tenants so she could schedule replacement fire alarms before they came home to those intrusive beeping sounds, she was on to her next task. A maintenance person got dispatched to visually inspect the smoke detector that had alerted the previous night. The unit experiencing the water leak also received a visual inspection; because of this, she was able to avoid costly damage. 

Regarding the point about increased NOI, smart technology can lead to greater tenant retention (as today’s renters show a strong interest in smart apartments), justification for increasing rents, and less money spent on disaster mitigation.  

As you can see, smart technology is changing the way that apartment communities are being managed—for the better. There are many benefits of owning a smart apartment community; those that stand out to us the most include disaster mitigation, increased NOI, and better overall efficiency

Arize is a smart apartment technology company that offers multifamily properties all the latest products in property automation. With Arize’s secure platform, property management teams can build safer, more connected communities. Arize’s smart, synced system offers a superior collection of management software and automated devices including smart locks, water leak detectors, and more.  Visit https://www.arizehub.com for more information.

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