As technology continues to advance across the board, it should come as no surprise that it is playing a powerful role in shaping the property management industry and its future progression. The rental market is getting more and more competitive – for both property managers and tenants – and many property owners are using amenities as a way to stand out from the crowd.

Tenants want to stay connected to the digital world from the comfort of their homes, whether on a mobile device or desktop, for work or entertainment. One study shows that Americans spend over 10 hours each day interacting with digital devices, and nearly 40% of young adults (ages 18-29) access the internet almost constantly. In the past, property managers may have offered internet services as an additional perk to entice renters in competitive markets, but now connectivity may be seen as a necessity to keep up. By including internet services as an amenity for tenants at your rental property, you can increase your property’s desirability and decrease vacancy time.

Including Internet Services: The Good

Offering free internet as an amenity isn’t an industry standard, so going this route can set you apart from your competitors. Rental property owners can provide high-speed internet in the common areas of their multifamily properties, or include personal access in each unit – either way, you can easily market reliable and fast broadband internet as a way to attract tenants. In addition to attracting tenants, offering a service that other properties don’t include can also keep tenants around longer as they will have to consider taking on an additional expense if they move.

If you’re already offering cable TV services at your property, internet should be an easy and relatively inexpensive add-on. You may even be able to negotiate a deal with your internet service provider if you’re planning on offering internet services to a large quantity of units within one property. Some property managers choose to include internet costs as part of a tenant’s rent at a discounted rate, while others charge a set fee on top of the monthly rent. Think about it this way: if your multifamily property has even 10 units, and each unit pays approximately $100 each month for internet services, your building is paying $12,000 a year for Internet. If you absorb this cost yourself and can secure it at a discounted rate, charging your tenants directly for internet services can actually turn out to be a profitable business.

Including Internet Services: The Questionable

Providing your tenants with internet services can come with some risk. One concern is that tenants may look to their landlord for IT support. The last thing you need as a property manager is tenants reaching out about connectivity or technology concerns. To combat this issue, clearly provide your tenants with information on whom they should contact with any questions or concerns.

Security can be another issue that property managers face when it comes to offering internet services to their tenants. Tenants want their personal networks to be secure and protect their personal information, while property managers want to ensure their network is only used for legal activity. To protect yourself, you should include specific language in your lease about the terms of use, prohibiting any illegal activity. This is also something you should address when choosing an internet service provider.

At the end of the day, deciding to provide internet services for your tenants at your rental properties will depend heavily on the supply and demand in your rental market. If your vacancy rate is low and you don’t experience much competition when it comes to finding tenants, you may not need this additional service to attract and retain tenants. If you live in a market where supply and demand are both relatively high, you might consider providing internet to set yourself apart. Most tenants want access to the internet in their homes, and including internet services in the monthly rent is usually one of the features tenants appreciate the most.

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