My latest blog post, “PointCentral Makes Smart Home Tech Possible for the Rental Property Market” was originally published by the good folks at Residential Tech Today Magazine on their web site here:
Whether you rent out a vacation home as a way to subsidize your mortgage payments, have created a business by purchasing properties and renting them, or own an apartment building, the management of rental properties has its challenges.
- You need to coordinate with repair people when there are problems to provide them with entry into the property and to lock up after they have left.
- When one tenant leaves and another is about to rent the property it needs to be cleaned. This requires coordinating with a cleaning crew to provide access to the property and locking the property when they leave.
- You need to provide the renter with secure access to the property and make sure that a former tenant can’t break in.
- You want to minimize the costs of utilities by setting back thermostats and assuring lights are turned off; especially when the property isn’t rented.
- You need to make sure that nobody breaks in and lives in the property when it isn’t occupied.
- And the list goes on…
Integrating smart home technology into a rental property coupled with a rental property management tools can overcome all of these challenges, and more.
PointCentral is a subsidiary of Alarm.com. Alarm.com was founded in 2000 and integrated security, smart home, and cloud technologies to pioneer the development of smart home as a service platforms. Today, Alarm.com and its subsidiaries touch over 6.5 million housing units worldwide and have over 100 million connected devices in those housing units. Alarm.com works with a nationwide network of smart home security providers for installation and maintenance of their systems.
PointCentral, with over five million customers, expands on Alarm.com’s platform by offering products that are designed for the needs of residential property mangers. PointCentral’s software utilizes both Alarm.com hardware and certified third-party smart home hardware, to create a managed smart home solution for both property managers and tenants.
A basic PointCentral installation consists of an Alarm.com smart home hub, an Alarm.com smart thermostat, and a Yale Z-Wave lock. Unlike most hubs, the Alarm.com smart home hub integrates with the Alarm.com cloud using a cellular connection; it doesn’t connect through a property’s WiFi and Internet connection. This provides a more robust and reliable connection to the Alarm.com cloud that isn’t subject to ISP (Internet service provider) outages and other common problems that plague many cloud based smart home hubs.
Z-Wave is the only smart home wireless protocol approved for use in security systems. Because of this, the Alarm.com smart home hub uses the Z-Wave protocol exclusively for integration with other smart home products. The basic smart home system can be expanded to include:
- Jasco’s line of Z-Wave switches and outlets (these are also sold under the GE label)
- Siri Shortcuts, Amazon Echo, and Google Home voice control assistants
- Skybell’s doorbell cam
- Alarm.com’s indoor and outdoor video cameras
- MyQ Control Panel & Z-Wave Garage Controllers
- Alarm.com’s window and door contact sensors
- Rachio and Rain Bird smart sprinkler controllers
- Alarm.com’s water sensors and water shut-off valves
A property owner/manager can either install these additional devices themselves to expand the smart home capabilities of a property or utilize the network of Alarm.com service providers. Similarly smart home rules that leverage new hardware can also be added to the hub by either party.
But, the real magic isn’t just creating a smart home rule that turns on the lights at night or even the smart phone app that a renter can use to control the smart features of the property. The real value is the services that PointCentral offers that are tightly integrated with the smart home capabilities installed in a property. PointCentral offers an array of services to property managers. For example:
- Tenants can be provided with a smart lock key code that is only valid for their length of stay at the property. A code for the smart lock code can be sent to them before they arrive at the property so their check-in is hassle free.
- Automatic water shutoff in the event of a leak
- Protection of the property from broken pipes due to the temperature dropping too low in the property. For example, if the heat was accidentally turned off while the property wasn’t occupied.
- Added security of never having to worry that a garage door was left open.
- Energy savings by automatically turning off lights when the property isn’t occupied.
- PointCentral integrates with property management software, such as Yardi, RealPage, and others. If there is an issue at the property requiring repairs, a work order is created in the property management software. PointCentral’s integration sees the creation of the work order and automatically creates an access code, which is only valid for the duration of the work order, to streamline the repair process.
Of course, these value-added services aren’t free. The basic package of an Alarm.com smart home hub, an Alarm.com smart thermostat, and a Yale Z-Wave lock costs $550. There is also a monthly service fee of $12 to $16 per housing unit.
The monthly service fee could easily be offset by the savings from programming the system to set back the thermostat and turn off lights whenever the property wasn’t occupied. In addition, according to a study of 1,000
renters in multifamily units
by Wakefield Research and Schlage, 86% of Millennials and 65% of Baby Boomers
are willing to pay more for a unit outfitted with automated or
remote-controlled devices. In fact,
Millennials are willing to pay 20% more for housing with smart technology. U.S.
So, smart home technology not only makes sense for the average home or condo, it also makes sense for rental properties.