By Richard Morris, Director, technologywithin
The impact of the pandemic has been keenly felt in the Build to Rent sector, as the demands of Covid-era residents rapidly evolve. From seismic shifts in location preferences and home working requirements, Build to Rent providers and investors are having to adapt for the future.
One major trend amidst residents’ changing requirements is technology, from robust connectivity for a remote working generation and streamlined property management capabilities to tech-powered sustainability initiatives. As a result, landlords and operators should look to embrace the technological developments which enhance resident retention in an uncertain environment, generate valuable returns in a period of low yields and keep them one step ahead in today’s increasingly competitive market.
Socially distanced, digitally connected
The property market as a whole has seen demand for digital solutions intensify in the wake of Covid-19, with a long-term increase in residents’ appetite for faster and more reliable connectivity, as workforces move towards more flexible solutions than the traditional office space. It seems clear that flexible working will to some extent outlive the pandemic, which means that more residential buildings will require up-to-date connectivity technology such as superfast broadband.
In fact, reliable connectivity is viewed as fundamental by today’s digitally-savvy residents, thanks to its capacity to improve productivity by as much as 16% – that’s more than six hours per week, or 41 working days per year. So, as tech requirements for residential residents further crystallise, savvy Build to Rent landlords and providers that prioritise robust connectivity and digital capabilities will be able to see the return on investments.
Making life, as well as work, easier with technology
Improving connectivity is not the only investment into technology that landlords can be making to make their properties more profitable. Innovations in the areas of machine learning, AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) may seem futuristic but they are already revolutionising the way that Build to Rent landlords and investors can manage buildings, helping to streamline the experience for residents through truly ‘smart’ homes.
The ability of this technology to monitor environmental factors such as heat and humidity in real time can optimise occupants’ physical and mental wellbeing, another important determinant of resident satisfaction in the modern market.
Tech-supported property management systems can also make life considerably easier for Build to Rent providers. IoT sensor technology allows facilities to be monitored constantly and any maintenance issues to be resolved efficiently. Operators can be notified of technical faults early and the operating system can even employ machine learning to mitigate the risk of faults recurring in future, ultimately limiting damages and costs in the future.
Saving money and the planet
Smart houses are built with an eye on the future and perhaps the most promising feature of these technological innovations is their capacity to reduce a property’s carbon footprint. With the UK government’s 2050 deadline for net-zero emissions only getting closer and environmentally conscious residents increasingly seeing ‘green homes’ as standard, there has never been a better time for the environmental benefits of tech-enabled systems to come to the fore.
The cost savings to providers also speak for themselves. Smart thermostats, for example, can detect when a door or window has been left open in a room and turn off the heating accordingly, cutting both energy usage and resultant emissions. Water usage has also received the tech treatment, with further implications for our sustainability goals. In addition to mitigating the risk of leaks, tech-supported systems can reduce wastage through contactless capabilities.
Tech-enabled systems point the way to the future of Build to Rent schemes, improving life and work in the Build to Rent space for all involved. The savviest landlords and operators have already embraced the smart building revolution, and the rest of the industry must similarly adapt, or risk being left behind. Making tech a mainstay of the Build to Rent space will increase efficiency, maximise returns, and offer sustainable solutions for residents of the post-pandemic era and beyond.