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Landlords: proptech and smart home tech can enhance your buy-to-let

There are hundreds of proptech offerings and smart home technologies available, and the industry is expanding. Are you making the most of what's out there? In the current market, buy-to-let landlords and property investors are looking for ways to enhance their profits from their rental properties. As the sector becomes more competitive, those wanting to appeal to the best tenants among Generation Rent could benefit from looking at proptech and smart home technology to broaden their appeal. Almost everything can be done online these days, but the property sector is slightly behind the times in some ways.

There are hefty amounts of paperwork to complete when purchasing a property, and the same often goes for renting one out and the ongoing management involved. However, there are ways to make the process smoother and more efficient for everyone. Finding and managing tenants There are numerous options that landlords can use to both find and manage tenants, and several apps and services will deal with the whole process for you so you can use your precious time elsewhere. Companies such as RentalStep and Canopy offer services including tenant referencing through a 'passport' system, while the likes of MoveBubble, Badi and HomeRenter offer platforms and apps where landlords and tenants can find each other.

PlanetRent is another proptech platform which offers the full package for landlords, including listings, a personalised profile with tracking, contracts, rents and reports. There's also a portal for tenants, the option for deposit-free renting, and a viewings offering. Buying and selling property There are lots of proptech platforms available now to help along the buying and selling process. Gazeal, for instance, offers a sales option that minimises the risk of 'gazumping' with a legally enforceable contract at the beginning of the process.

Other options include online estate agents such a PurpleBricks, Nested and Emoov, as well as YieldIt which is specifically designed for landlords wishing to buy or sell tenanted property. This effectively minimises - or eradicates - void periods, which is hugely important for landlords who need to maximise their profits. Mortgages Online mortgage brokers still account for a relatively small portion of the market, although the likes of Trussle, Mojo and Habito are all growing in popularity. Securing a mortgage can be a long process, along with other aspects of buying a property such as the conveyancing, surveys and legal work - which Habito also takes care of.

Custom-made apps for tenants There's a new trend among developers of large residential buildings, particularly in the build-to-rent sector, for creating a custom-made app for inhabitants of the development. Regal Property, the developer behind The Bank in Birmingham, has launched an app to give residents a "one-stop shop" for everything they might need within the building. The app features a portal to book classes in the building's gym, employ a cleaner, or book in repairs with the maintenance team, among other things.

There's also a residents' marketplace, and the app links to other service providers in the city to offer residents discounts. This trend is part of the movement towards enhancing the lives of renters. Landlords who own properties with these offerings are likely to attract more tenants, and keep them for longer, which is a key aim for any property investor. Going green with smart technology Climate change became the buzz word of 2019 after the likes of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion began making headlines and raising more awareness.

It's something that not only can the government not ignore; the housing industry also needs to take note, being a major producer of greenhouse gas emissions. A number of developers and investors are already targeting solutions to make their projects more eco-friendly. Romal Capital, the developer behind Liverpool Waters, a major regeneration project in the heart of Liverpool which is creating five new waterfront neighbourhoods, has opted to install renewable energy sources in its development. It will use solar panels to harness and store energy throughout the day to be used at "peak" times within the building.

Other developers are investing in Tesla batteries which collect and store energy in a similar way. Building usage and footfall can be monitored using smart technology, so that the energy from the batteries can be utilised at the most energy-efficient times. Smart homes: worth the investment? Smart home technology may be something that landlords want to tread a little more carefully with. Although it can be a worthwhile investment and make the property more desirable, its usage may depend on your tenants - something that's breakable may need to be repaired, which removes the benefit.

Smart thermostats are one technology many landlords do opt to install, as they are popular among tenants and allow them to save money on bills. The most well-known of these are Hive and Google Nest, which offer an app to control the heating when you're not at home, avoiding the need to rely on timers or leave the heating on when you don't need it. Other smart home technology options include smart lightbulbs which can be operated remotely, smart doorbells and security cameras. There is evidence that including smart doorbells and security cameras can reduce your insurance premiums, so whether this is something worth investing in for your tenants needs weighing up.

Anything that makes your property more appealing to Generation Rent than the one next door is likely to be a bonus, though, and there's a lot on the market for landlords who want to go down this route. BuyAssociation's property investment opportunities include smart homes, such as Stone Cross House in Bolton, which come with all the technology installed and ready to be used by your tenants (or yourself if you are buying a home in the development). Sign up for free for more information on this and other projects.

Source: Landlords: proptech and smart home tech can enhance your buy-to-let

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