June 20, 2021

UK: Is the rental sector in need of a smart tech overhaul?

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By James Lockett

Last week, experts from the industry shared their, let’s say interesting, ideas on what the home of the future could look like. However, research from Build to Rent specialists, Ascend Properties, has found that while smart homes may be the focus of the future, smart tech is yet to sway residents in the rental market when it comes to property preference and the money they are willing to pay.


It’s fair to say the build-to-rent sector is the future of renting, presenting better homes with all the mod-cons expected from today’s residents including great broadband, onsite amenities and communal outdoor areas.


When it comes to smart tech integration, however, residents are less worried with just a third stating they would be more likely to rent a home purely because it had smart tech integration.


In addition, the vast majority (74%) also stated they would be unlikely to pay more for a rental property simply because it was smart tech-enabled, with just 2% willing to pay much more than the market rate.


That’s not to say that we should turn our backs on smart tech completely as some features appeal more than others.


The ability to save money through smart tech features such as utility management and smart metres held the greatest appeal amongst potential residents. Safety also ranked high, with features such as smart locks and surveillance also holding high appeal.


A smart entertainment system and the ability to access lighting and heating remotely also appealed, although eco-friendly smart tech and convenience features such as voice activation were less sought after.


Managing Director of Ascend Properties, Ged McPartlin, commented:


“It’s fair to say that while smart tech is a great addition to the home, residents aren’t quite ready to pay above the odds for the privilege of a fully automated home of the future. In fact, it’s important to get the basics right and provide the fundamentals such as good wifi, or a well maintained outdoor space, before you start to add the additional bells and whistles.


But that’s not to say there isn’t a market for some degree of smart tech and with any investment, it’s about choosing the right additions to compliment the property itself, as well as the wider lifestyle offering you are trying to deliver.


By doing so, you can appeal to the modern resident without deterring them with a cost of renting that sits far above the expected rate.”


Survey of 1,427 UK tenants carried out by Ascend Properties via Find Out Now (2nd June 2021).


Which of the following benefits of home smart tech integration appeal to you? (Tick all that apply)



Ability to save money (Utilities management etc)


Security (Smart locks and surveillance)


Entertainment (Smart speakers linked to phone etc)


Remote access (Lighting, heating etc)


Eco-friendly smart tech


Convenience (Voice activation)




Would you be more likely to rent a property with smart tech integration?





Somewhat more likely


Much more likely




How much more would you pay for a rental property with smart tech integration?



Would not pay more


A bit more


Much more






–          Ascend is a leading nationwide Build to Rent specialist.

–          Founded in 2014, the company has won numerous awards due to its professionalism and exceptional customer service.

–          Ascend was named Best Letting Agent in the North West at the ESTAS Awards for four consecutive years and has won more than 65 allAgents Awards.

–          The company has experienced tremendous annual growth, reporting consistently high increases in turnover year-on-year.

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