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Thanks largely to the advent of smartphones we’re seeing some extraordinary technological developments for the home. Interestingly though, rather than being the stuff of Sci-Fi fantasies, they’re more like high-tech solutions for old-school problems. For example, when it comes to smart home gadgets landlords should consider, the most useful ones do things like lock and unlock doors, regulate thermostats and monitor security systems. While those applications might fall somewhat short of blowing you away at first glance, their potential is readily evident when you look at them a bit more closely.

For example, how many times have you driven halfway down your street when you’re suddenly hit with the nagging feeling you forgot to lock the front door—or close your garage door? With connected locks on your property, all you have to do is park for a moment, take out your phone and check. Smart door lock systems also let your tenants lock or unlock doors remotely in addition to informing you when someone to whom you’ve granted access (such as maintenance personnel or a rental agent) has opened the door. The better systems also keep records of who opened the door and when. This can be very useful for advanced property management functions.

Intelligent thermostats have been around for quite some time, allowing you to set start and stop times so HVAC systems are active only when they’re needed. Thermostats are now capable of learning, so even if you don’t set the timers, they will operate based upon the habits your tenants display. This frees you from relying upon them to program their thermostats to make your buildings more energy efficient. For those times when your tenants are operating outside of their usual schedules, they can communicate with the thermostat on their smartphones to condition the home before arrival.

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While smoke detectors have been proven to save lives, they do have one very annoying trait: when the batteries play out, their incessant chirping whittles away at the sanity of anyone within earshot. If your tenant is the sort of person who keeps batteries on hand—congratulations. If they’re not, their phone its batteries are about to need replacing before the chirping begins. Tenants can also silence alarms from their mobile devices. Greatly improved detection capability reduces false alarms too. These new smoke detectors will also send notifications to you, the tenant’s designated family members and emergency services providers. Learn more about the importance of smoke detectors in our article we wrote about fire safety tips in apartments.

It is virtually impossible to overestimate the value of a a watchful eye over your property. Today’s smart security systems for apartments include motion detectors and air quality monitors capable of providing your tenants’ phones with alerts if there are sudden changes. They can also have interior cameras set up and ported to their mobile devices to keep track of their homes when they’re away. These major security measures are recommended to monitor your rental investment.

Other available devices can monitor plumbing systems and test water quality. There are also smart light bulbs, coffee makers and of course virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa. Hubs are available to permit linking devices together to do things like turn on a lamp when a door is unlocked at a certain time of day. Outfitting your properties with smart devices enables you to advertise them as “smart homes,” giving you a competitive advantage and allowing you to charge a premium for the conveniences if you choose to do so.

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