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Green Building News

Firm Will Test Smart Features in Rentals

Web-connected thermostats and locks could attract renters of apartments and save building owners time and money

People who rent rather than own their apartments may eventually expect amenities that come with smart-home technology, giving apartment house owners a reason to think about investing in web-connected devices.
Image Credit: Cameron Adams/Flickr

Web-connected devices such as thermostats and locks are being snapped up by homeowners who want the convenience of smart-home technology while renters, barred from altering wiring or door locks, watch from the sidelines.

Now, NWP Services Corporation, which provides smart metering and billing services to owners of apartment house complexes, is planning to test those and other web-connected devices in rentals in two states to see how attractive they might provide to landlords as well as tenants.

According to an article in Fortune, NWP will test web-connected lights, thermostats and locks in California and Florida as the market opens its arms to more smart-home features.

“It feels like the market is now ready for this,” NWP CEO Ron Reed told Fortune. “For some properties this is just going to be the ticket for entry but for others there is going to be a clear [return on investment].”

Benefits and risks

Renters would enjoy the same features that homeowners already can tap into: door locks that can be checked remotely and thermostats and lighting that can be controlled by a smart phone or tablet. As the technology continues to expand, renters may expect to see it in their apartments. Landlords who offer it could get a competitive edge.

But apartment owners also stand to gain in other ways, the report said.

For example, web-connected thermostats would allow landlords to turn down the heat in individual apartments after residents have moved out. Door locks that can be activated by a smart phone app would eliminate the need to change locks or replace keys when renters move out. Web-connected moisture sensors and smoke alarms are other features that could aid landlords, Reed said.

NWP also is exploring the potential downside for landlords.

“There’s a lot of tech here, but there are also business problems,” said Reed. “We’re going to need someone at the front desk 24-7 to handle customer support.”

Another challenge for the company will be in getting devices to work with NWP’s software and billing systems, Reed said.


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