smart apartments

Smart Apartments: Applying home automation technology to rental units

Smart apartment technology is trending, as more and more millennials and older adults opt to rent instead of buy. This month, we’ll explore the ins and outs of smart apartments in a six part blog series.

What are Smart Apartments?

Smart apartment tech connects a wide range of devices to a single network. Renters and managers control connected devices from a single source, like a smart phone. As tech advances, more and more devices can be added to the network. Examples of devices that can be linked to smart tech include:

  • Thermostats
  • Lighting
  • Home security systems
  • Locks
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Televisions and other entertainment systems

Renters and managers have the ability to access and control connected devices offsite. For example, apartment managers can access keyless entry systems and change access codes without leaving their office. Similarly, renters can control a smart thermostat from work to ensure their apartment is comfortable when they get home.

The use of smart tech has been widespread within single family homes for years. But, as more adults opt out of homeownership, more products are being designed with renters in mind. In most cases, apartment management determines the extent of smart tech within an apartment.

According to the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center, roughly nineteen million current renters are former homeowners. In addition, the largest demographic of renters are millennials setting up their first homes. Both groups are accustomed to tech luxuries that were previously unavailable in rental units. In light of this, apartment communities are upgrading to attract and retain renters in both demographics. Some communities start small, with upgrades like USB outlets and smart thermostats. Others are completely renovating, installing networks that control all aspects of apartment living.

Industry insiders predict that within a decade, smart apartments will be the standard. If you’re shopping for an apartment, don’t be afraid to ask for tech upgrades!

Installing Automated Tech: Who’s responsible?

Renters can add simple smart tech without contacting apartment management for permission. Examples include smart outlets and systems like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa.

Generally speaking, renters should not install anything that requires the removal of an existing fixture without receiving permission from apartment management. Examples include smart thermostats and keyless entry systems. Many apartment communities prefer to have their own maintenance staff remove and replace fixtures. If you receive permission to do the work yourself, don’t discard the original fixtures. Store them, so they can be reinstalled when your lease is up.

Pros and Cons

We’ve all heard the stories of tech gone awry. Alexa devices laugh or comment at inappropriate times, and insecure wi-fi connections can leave your system vulnerable to hacking. The occasional software glitch or hiccup may occur, but the benefits of smart apartment technology far outweigh the downfalls. These benefits include:

  • Security
  • Safety
  • Efficiency
  • Convenience
  • Comfort

Stay tuned for the next installment of our series, in which we’ll explore these benefits in depth!


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