On the most recent IoT Podcast, Matt called into our voicemail hotline with an interesting question: As a small-town landlord, what smart devices can or should he use to keep tabs on his properties? Obviously we don’t know if he’s talking about individual homes that he rents out, multi-unit properties or something bigger. But we can offer some guidelines and products that would make sense to install, without violating the privacy of his tenants.
First off, we suggest the installation of a separate wireless network at each property. These would solely be used by the landlord, not by existing tenants. This would limit access to any smart devices for keeping an eye on the property to just the landlord. Any consumer Wi-Fi mesh network product could work in small buildings, even a multi-unit rental property as long as it wasn’t a large apartment complex. For a large building, you’ll want a commercial network solution.
With that network in place, we recommend looking into Phyn Plus, a $699 water monitoring system with shut off. Using algorithms, Phyn Plus can detect water leaks before too much property damage occurs. While the product is meant for single-family homes, Phyn offers this information for multi-unit dwellings:
Phyn Plus is intended for single family homes, with individual water meters. However, some multi-family dwellings that have individual plumbing lines and meters for each unit are compatible with Phyn Plus. Typically a PRV will also need to be installed in each unit as well.
Due to privacy concerns, we wouldn’t recommend indoor wireless cameras, thermostats or door locks, but that’s up to landlords and tenants to agree upon. I doubt many if any tenants will find those items acceptable for landlords to install. We also recommend that the landlord point out the various connected devices that are installed in the home, and explain their use. Transparency if your friend, here.
If residents are OK with outdoor cameras, we’d suggest the latest models from Arlo. We would also consider smart smoke detectors that are administered by the landlord, who then offers tenants to receive notifications and alerts in case of emergency. There is a range of these to choose from and the Nest Protect and First Alert Onelink are reasonable options priced just around $120 each. Again, any landlord considering these should definitely explain to residents what the intent is and that you will offer access to them.
Beyond those types of products, we’d say steer clear: It’s a fine line between monitoring your investment properties and having happy tenants.
To hear Matt’s question in full, along with our discussion, tune in to the IoT Podcast below: