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The Internet of Things Makes its Way into Luxury Rentals

As more and more people in their 20s start looking for their first homes, the rental market is rapidly catching up with the times and putting a new “smart” spin on things. And by “smart” we mean hi-tech gadgets, voice-activated lights, app-controlled appliances and more. While some homeowners could easily make the decision to turn their home “smart”, renters didn’t have it so easy… until now, that is. As a response, investors and developers are focusing on providing renters with the trendy technological amenities that they want. What can be more appealing than a home adjusted to suit the lifestyle of any tech-savvy Millennial or Gen Zer?

Picture an apartment equipped with voice-controlled lights, appliances that can be remotely turned on and off or a special device for pet owners that want to check in or feed Fido while they’re away. A few years ago, this may have seemed like something out of a sci-fi movie. However, increasing demand and the help of innovative developers have paved the way for hi-tech rentals to become a reality.

The trend of smart apartments might not have spread across the entire country yet but give it time. Renters living in Portland, New York, San Fran or Las Vegas already have the option of renting in an app-controlled apartment building.

One of the companies working to add smart home systems to rental apartments is Portland’s IOTAS. The idea behind it is that you would be able to use your lights, outlets and motion sensors though the IOTAS mobile app. You won’t own the technology but will pay a fee each month for renting it. And the great thing about it is that it can be installed in both new and old construction. Through the app, property managers and tenants are able to create custom rules and monitor energy use. Everything’s wireless and suitable for standard light switches and power outlets. Moreover, it’s based on an adaptive system, meaning that the longer you use it, the smarter it gets at knowing your habits and preferences.

It’s becoming the norm to have Millennial-geared technology in apartment buildings. Other app-based technologies like Dwelo and StratIS also give renters control over their home. With these apps, tenants can lock/open their doors, adjust their thermostats, lights and other appliances.

A new story in The Wall Street Journal depicts life in a New York City voice-activated smart-home. According to developer Tishman Speyer, these devices are on their way to become the standard in many rental buildings. This is mainly due to the increasing popularity of high-tech devices from Alphabet Inc. and Amazon. A recently-built luxury apartment building in Jackson Park already features 1,871 apartments that use voice-activated devices like Alexa. Their 120 luxury units, spread across the top four floors, come with home-automation features for outlets and light switches. In addition, there’s a smart thermostat that can be adjusted through voice commands. The monthly rent for such a unit is a sky-high $10,000 a month and the apartments also include smart appliances that can be managed though Amazon’s Echo Show.

All in all, the focus is no longer on average amenities like swimming pools, gyms or tennis courts. As the world is becoming more technologically advanced, the housing industry will need to keep up. Smart apartments will not only prove to be convenient and aesthetically appealing but they also promise to be incredibly cost-efficient.

Florentina Sarac
Florentina Sarac
Florentina Sarac is a creative writer, editor, and researcher for RENTCafé. She covers a variety of topics, from real estate trends, demographic shifts, housing industry news and multifamily construction to homeownership, smart-home technology, personal finance and business. With a 9-year background in the real estate industry, Florentina has also penned articles for publications such as Multi-Housing News, Commercial Property Executive and the National Apartment Association Magazine. You can connect with Florentina via email. Florentina’s work and expertise have been featured in several major U.S. and international publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bisnow, The Mercury News, Curbed, The NY Post, CBS News, Business Insider and She holds a B.A. in English and Spanish, as well as an M.A. in Multilingual and Multicultural Communication, which serve as a testament to her love of literature and language.

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