Renters can go high-tech with portable smart devices for homes

02-10

Renters may be temporary residents, but they still want the latest and greatest technologies installed in their homes, studies are finding. And smart technologies, once reserved for those willing to put deep holes in walls and permanent, hard-wired controls into their homes, are adjusting to accommodate the 38 million renters in the United States, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council.

These new smart gadgets are easy to install, they come without contracts and they can be moved from home to home with ease.

Everything from smart locks to smart air-conditioning systems have hit the market to fulfill the needs of millennials, who are the prime users of smart technology, said Samantha Kamen, account executive for Resound Marketing, which markets Tado ($179 at Amazon.com), a smart air-conditioning system that works with window and portable air-conditioning units using geolocation technology on smartphones to adjust the temperature in your home based on your proximity from home, responding to your needs in real time.

“Renters are willing to pay out of pocket for these items to make their stay at the property more comfortable and affordable,” said Jake Southall, of First Avenue Realty in Texas. And, he said, “we will start to see more and more of this in the future from a safety and economic point of view.”

Smart locks have become popular gadgets for renters too. The Lockitron Bolt (starts at $99 at Lockitron.com, with the first batch expected to ship in March) installs over existing deadbolts so the renter can have his own code but the landlord doesn’t need to get new keys. It can be removed in minutes without leaving a mark, said Cameron Robertson, co-founder and CEO of Lockitron.

Renters who want a full alarm system can turn to Scout (starts at $129 for the basic hub plus $9.99 per month for monitoring at Scoutalarm.com), which is self-installed, wireless and portable from house to house.

“There are no contracts with Scout, you own the equipment, and the system can be expanded or contracted as the customer sees fit,” said Dan Roberts, co-founder and CEO of Scout. “Traditional systems have 3-to-5-year contracts, are typically hard-wired and you must own the property, ignoring the needs of renters.”

Those who want a general home automation system sans the installation process and contract may turn to SmartThings, which can do everything from monitor a home, provide and change the lighting, and trigger noises like a virtual dog bark if there are unexpected entries into the home.

“SmartThings is perfect for rental units because it allows renters to create a unique smart home specific to their needs, set it up easily and take it with them when they move on to a new residence,” said Brian Pope, chief marketing officer for SmartThings. “Unlike traditional home automation systems that require complicated installation processes and long-term contracts, SmartThings helps renters build a smart home without causing headaches for themselves or their landlords.”