How Can Landlords Profit from the Internet-Of-Things

34 Replies

Wi-Fi enabled sensors will soon be embedded into nearly every product so "owners" can monitor the data the object sends. A gate may send a signal meaning "I'm open" and a chair may send a signal saying "183 lbs." Useful info for cattle ranchers or restaurant owners, but how about landlords?

How will landlords profit from the internet of things?

I would love to have an internet enabled lock that locks people out when there rent is due but that would be illegal, so maybe some kind of reminder notice or sound when they open their door.

Another thing that would be awesome is if a house could send a signal to investors driving by all the information about a house I have for sale with MLS comps, price and ARV

And last but not least, a pop up on Pandora and or Google ads that shows my house for rent with information when people drive near my place.

Just some things I would like if they were possible and not illegal

I would like to get an automatic text if there's a plumbing leak.

How about instead of a "smoke detector", a "rent detector"? If the rent is unpaid, it will sound a "reminder" once an hour -- "the rent is due, the rent is due". Just swipe your credit card and pay the rent and the reminder message goes away.

Maybe water sensors could reduce insurance premiums?

I think sensors on the all the appliances, plumbing, smoke detectors and windows that send an email to the landlord when it's malfunctioning would be great if it were not too expensive.

All,

We have built a building monitoring system that leverage the protocols underlaying the "Internet of Things" , which was the reason we first bought rental properties {we needed a real-life field test}.

[BTW: @Al Williamson 802.11 is not typically used to communicate with the sensors themselves - it's too power hungry. Most small sensors will use Zigbee, Z-Wave {or similar} wireless - or even more passive communications.]

Tenants can {un}lock doors with their smart phones and we can five one-time door codes to service folks (i.e. the plumber). We also have motion/vibration sensors, moisture/temperature sensors, light sensors, etc.

A number of responses - local or remote notifications,actions, etc - can be initiated in response to an event. We do have alarms, so @Dawn A. we might be able to create the late-rent nag you mentioned :)

One of our goals for 2014 is to get the system market ready.

Internet of things will be a diferencial between your rental and the one down the street. A savvy renter will prefer to rent a place with a nest thermostat installed, all other things equal. As these things roll out, that might be what keeps him renting your place. Isn't keeping your renters from moving the best way to reduce vacancy?

That said, that doesn't go very well with lower end renters. Internet of things is still very new, and still carries a luxury price tag.

Also, as your need for internet grows, the landlord will need internet to power your rental. I'd never trust a renter to setup internet for my leak detector/sms "thingy".

On my wishlist; A lock and cameras that I can tour homes for sale anytime; maybe even without realtors?

If you want an "alarm" to tell renters when they are late on rent, just provide them free wifi. When they don't pay rent, cut the internet, and show them the webpage to pay rent, right then and there.

Originally posted by @Rafael Floresta :

If you want an "alarm" to tell renters when they are late on rent, just provide them free wifi. When they don't pay rent, cut the internet, and show them the webpage to pay rent, right then and there.

I really like this idea!

I've thought about security cameras for my properties, but it requires setting up wi-fi to be able to remotely view/record. I've also seen the remote locks, which would be great, but I don't see them being worth the extra expense. I generally have my tenants schedule time with repair folks so that I don't have to run around meeting people at different places all the time.

@Roy N. thanks for advancing my education. You're making me want to schedule a trip to New Brunswick. Cool stuff you've got going.

@Rafael Floresta you bring up a number of great points. The devices that can help lower income renters save money are frankly not a priority to many of them. I hate having to admit that ...

You and @Michael Seeker touched on a point I've been driving home for a while. Landlords need to provide complimentary Wi-Fi. We need to adequately address liability with waivers instead of running scared. Not having wi-fi will soon be viewed as not having indoor toilets.

Now, may I rephrase my question? Please help me think of ways landlords can use this technology to generate additional income.

@Al Williamson

You're always welcome to visit us here on the other side of the continent, though I wouldn't recommend coming during winter - California just will not have adequately prepared you ;) Though winter has just officially started, we have had ~4' of snow already and our "high" temperatures for the remainder of the week will be around -17C (0F) ... the lows will be closer to -30C (-22F) :)

@Al Williamson As a landlord you'd benefit if you have squatters in your vacancies. You'd also know if the leasee moved in their boyfriend / baby momma and additional relatives which may have been frowned upon per written agreement. Perhaps if the sensor reads a certain amount of km and detect non-human motions (the bird got out of the cage for example) there's a reason for inspection from the landlord which could lead to the discovery of pets that the tenant wasn't paying for. Of course there is a yin to every yang i.e. hackers....




Kudos,
Mary

Originally posted by @Mary B. :
Of course there is a yin to every yang i.e. hackers....

Ahh ... the poor maligned shibboleth, "hacker". In my youth being a hacker was a badge of honour - it meant you could make the machine do things most could not ('sing'). Then the term started to get bandied about in the main stream but was confused with "cracker" ... now those on the outside think hackers are bad and crackers go under cheese :-P


@Al Williamson I have no useful input at this time but I just wanted to say, I have been thinking about this most of the day; I listened to your PodCast this afternoon; where as you no; you touched on this subject a bit. I enjoyed your cast and your approach to being a land lord.

@Ron N.

:-) The only time I have a problem with hackers if they hack into some database that personally effects me in a negative. I'm generally a to each his/her own type.

The hacker community has grown somewhat and get a nice amount of press. Its the lack of attention these shy beings are feeling that causes them to upset the establishment... Though some say once you go hack you can't turn back. :-)

Kudos,

Mary

I see both risk and opportunity. For a prudent owner there are clear benefits, but If an owner gets a little over-zealous and begins monitoring the activities of their tenants it may not take long until you get labeled "big brother" and that stigma (earned or not) would be difficult to prepare.

(Note: Even in the thread above I see activities that I would suggest are on the wrong side of line.)

@Tom C.

I share your assessment. Any technology is open to abuse (i.e. CCTV).

While we are focused on monitoring and controlling the building (i.e. water in the overflow tray of the hot water heater; windows open; no motion in the apartment during the day, so shift thermostat into "away" mode), there could be opportunities for crossing the line (i.e. monitor who leaves/enters the unit at which times).

Agreed, it could go too far. If the lady of the house were in the shower with her eyes closed and reaching for a towel then a voice came on saying "higher and to your right for your towel" that might be alarming.

Al, most everything mentioned effects money, lowers vacancies, damages, insurance and collections increased.

Farenheit 451? This is getting spooky! :)

I don't share the same vision of the future many do in this thread. There is a demand for wireless thermostats, but I don't see a demand for networked appliances, lights and doors. Although I like the name internet-of-things, it seems needlessly complicated, and not something many people want, let alone are willing to pay for. FYI, wireless water detectors have existed for a few years. They are pricy, but cost effective in condo complexes where a water leak could effect multiple units.

Originally posted by @John Rooster :
I don't share the same vision of the future many do in this thread. There is a demand for wireless thermostats, but I don't see a demand for networked appliances, lights and doors. Although I like the name internet-of-things, it seems needlessly complicated, and not something many people want, let alone are willing to pay for. FYI, wireless water detectors have existed for a few years. They are pricy, but cost effective in condo complexes where a water leak could effect multiple units.

John:

As appliances become more and more computerised, networking them becomes a necessity to provide firmware/software updates and to allow them to communicate with other appliances locally and the grid itself.

Wireless moisture sensors can be had for <$25 these days. While individual sensors are nice, the real capabilities come from the software which coordinates events reported by these sensors and applies business rules resulting in notifications or actions being taken.

Proprietary building monitoring systems from vendors such as Honeywell and Siemens have existed for some time, however their cost of implementation only makes them practical in larger residential and commercial properties. The benefit of the new generation of sensors and devices being built for the "Internet of Things" is they are not proprietary and and are far more affordable. As we move towards commercialisation of our own system, the objective is to provide a package that is in the range of ~$1000.00 /unit to purchase and install ... making it affordable to many more landlords of smaller properties.

Eventually these things will become integrated in new construction - i.e. new windows will come with sensors already built into the frames which will allow the building system to monitor whether each window is open, close, or locked. In some instances, they will also allow the building system to frost the glass in response to time of day or outside environmental conditions. In the interim, we have lots of existing building stock which could benefit from affordable systems that can be retrofitted.

We could use a new smart device or home automation industry here to create new jobs, but not sure about having HAL in a rental monitoring your tenant's activities or possible neglect/misuse of things. Best thing would be to get responsible tenants that report problems in a timely manner. Even so, I've often wondered why we haven't leveraged the Internet to its fullest advantage. I guess old was of thinking and doing things. Seems to me, with internet connectivity, we could reduce traffic, pollution, and save energy resources by just allowing people to work from home - those jobs that really have no need for a physical presence inside the office building. But then, that would impact real estate since a lot of people would then move to the beach or wherever else they want to live instead of having to be located in certain area for work. But I suppose that would never happen because the boss couldn't get his daily dose of enjoyment by breathing down your neck and mirco-managing your every movement ;-)

Two Quick Points

1 - We're early into the IoT and whereas it's easy to find ways to reduce expenses, it's difficult to use IoT to create auxiliary income.

2 - As @Roy N. pointed out, value increases with connectivity. Just like BPs value increases by helping us share ideas. So let me remind my fellow landlords to connect with the community surrounding your rental properties. Communicate - create value.

I hate talking about laundry rooms as a source of extra income. The world of opportunities is much larger than laundry rooms HOWEVER we should address the basics before advancing on.

Confession Time: the more I think about my complex's laundry mat, the more disappointed I am in myself. The place is more of a storage shed than potential profit center.

I've set up the space for my needs instead of my customer's needs. DUMB, DUMB, DUMB!!!!!

I think there is a strong correlation between a laundry room's convenience/appearance and it's profitability.

IDEA: I should use the IoT to make the laundry rooms MORE convenient for our tenants!

Stay tuned. I'm going to drill down on this idea after polling my peeps.

I see lots of potential for internet in the laundry. Not sure the technology exists, but you have a coinless system for paying for laundry, using a card that you recharge over the internet. Tenants could check their smart phone to see if there is a vacant machine before making the trip to the laundry room. They could also get a text message or an alert when the load completes. Also, there should be a surcharge for leaving clothes in a machine too long, as it prevents others from using it. You might even avoid having a card reader on the washer and dryer by simply using your phone or a PC to virtually pay for your washing. This would avoid the need to have to worry about coins and eliminate the theft risk associated with coins. Of course, there should be surveilance cameras in the laundry room to give residents a feeling of security late at night, and also to discourage theft and vandalism.

Thomas,

They exist.

Many years ago, I helped a friend retrofit pay-per-use card readers from a photocopier to a replace the coin-ops on his laundry machines. It worked, but his electrical engineering tenants the next year were not long figuring out how to recharge their own cards in the lab.

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