Landlords have been embracing technology for decades, but now that certain advanced technologies are available – like biometric scanning – landlords need to be cautious.
Although using technology can really help landlords manage their properties, tenants, and increase profitability, here’s why they need to be careful about the technology they use.
1. Laws must be followed
There are laws that must be followed when a landlord implements technology to run their rental properties. For example, in most U.S. states, it’s okay to put security cameras in common areas (like mail rooms and hallways), but not facing a tenant’s doors or windows.
Some landlords forget about these laws or they don’t know they exist. This is why most landlords hire a property management company to handle everything. Professional property managers know state laws and will implement landlord tech according to the law.
For landlords looking to install surveillance cameras that use facial recognition, although it’s legal, there are several reasons to pause on this decision. These reasons will be discussed in some of the additional points.
2. Biometric security makes tenants uncomfortable
Most people feel inherently violated by any kind of surveillance. However, that doesn’t mean landlords shouldn’t install security cameras. The problem is when the surveillance uses biometric technology, like facial recognition.
There have been many instances where tenants have rejected their landlord’s use of a facial recognition security system. Some tenants have even taken their landlords to court and won, forcing the landlord to abandon biometric security measures.
3. Smart locks can be abused
Most landlords probably wouldn’t consider abusing their authority to override a tenant’s smart door lock in violation of the law. However, you can never be too sure. It’s probably not something landlords themselves would think they would ever do, but given certain circumstances, it might happen.
For instance, when a tenant is given notice to vacate the premises, they might decide to ignore the notice and continue occupying the unit. This is not good news for the landlord, especially when they need the tenant out so they can rent it to a new tenant.
When a landlord uses smart locks on a tenant’s unit, they can usually override the lock through their master application on their phone. This is bad news if the landlord decides to utilize self-help eviction methods to get the tenant out.
For instance, the landlord might prevent the lock from locking, or they might change the numerical code that opens the lock manually.
So, while a landlord might have good intentions for installing a smart lock, there is the potential for abuse. This is just something landlords need to consider.
4. Older tenants might not be amenable to big tech
Sometimes, older tenants won’t be amenable to relying on technology in order to live in their own home. For instance, a group of New York tenants sued their landlord and won when they were being forced to use an electronic key to access their apartment building.
The tenants didn’t want to use a smart key to enter the building for a couple of reasons. First, they felt more comfortable with physical keys. Second, they didn’t like the idea that the electronic key was equipped with a GPS that could track their whereabouts and possibly be used for marketing purposes.
Landlords who want to use smart locks for common areas and to enter the main building need to be careful. On one hand, it’s important to maintain tight security and limit who can hold a key to the building.
However, on the other hand, it’s most important to make sure tenants feel comfortable; otherwise, they’ll move and/or file a lawsuit.
5. Technology can break down
Say a tenant can only access their apartment building with an electronic key that relies on the internet to function. Imagine their frustration when they can’t get into the building because the internet is down. Sure, they were probably given a manual code to get into the building in that type of situation, but they probably don’t remember it or carry it with them.
Technology is wonderful when it’s used in moderation
As with anything, moderation is the key. Technology is amazing and has the power to make life easier for landlords and tenants alike. However, it must be used in moderation and with careful consideration in order to be effective.
It makes sense to implement better security, but for now, landlords should be cautious when using facial recognition and biometric scanning. Tenants deserve to feel safe, but the safety measures shouldn’t make them feel uncomfortable.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.