One of the hottest tech trends in the rental home business is in-home wifi. Internet access is now a vital part of everyday life, and not just to do work and keep up with friends. We now stream movies, download music, get updates, and run our smart homes off wifi internet as well. So it's no wonder why modern high-tech tenants are clamoring for rental homes that come with complimentary wifi internet inside the home. Especially if that internet service is fast enough to really perform under the pressure of a wireless tech lifestyle.
It's also no surprise that an increasing number of landlords are picking up on the trend of providing in-home wifi for single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments alike. Of course, every property and local internet service is different. While the appeal is universal, you as a landlord still have to figure out how to install and maintain the in-house wifi you choose to provide.
Is Tenant Wifi Practical for Your Rental?
The first question is whether or not it's practical to go down this path. Wifi does have some infrastructure requirements, and some homes just can't support a reliable wifi signal for one reason or another. Here are the primary requirements:
The House has Access to High-Speed Internet
Cities off the beaten track and rural homes are less likely to have great internet access. Ideally, you will have a cable or TelCo internet hardline that provides high-speed internet. Be aware that some cities and neighborhoods do not yet have high-speed lines available. And rural homes may not have hardlines available at all.
Rural landlords willing to tap into the cell network may be able to provide wireless in-home internet with hotspots. But only if your properties happen to be located in spots with good reception.
There Are Open Wifi Frequencies
Crowded cities have high-speed hardlines but come with a different challenge. Wifi frequency transmits like radio waves, and to many wifi routers close to each other can drown each other out. If high-density living situations has made offering wifi impractical, you may be able to offer hardline connections instead.
There Is Not Mysterious Building Interference
Sometimes the location of a building or the way it was constructed interferes with wireless signal;, stopping cell signal and making wifi limited to single room ranges. You know if you live in or own a building like this because your cell phone never works and all wireless signal seems weirdly muted, truncated, or non-functional. If this is true about your building, hardline internet is your only real option.
There Are Reasonable Internet Deals Available
Sometimes, the local internet providers are charging an arm & leg for a home connection, even if the connection is available. This is more common in small cities far from the large metropolitan areas, but is possible anywhere. As with any tenant amenity, always make sure that the costs are worth the returns if internet prices are high or rise over time.
You Can Handle Being a Network Admin
Finally, remember that to maintain control of the connection, you or your property manager need to be the primary admin of the wifi network. Or prepare to give over complete control to your tenants as an act of trust. Either way, the responsibility of making the network run is up to you because it is part of your tenant amenities. You don't have to be a skilled admin, but you do need to be prepared to learn some basics and have a skilled admin on-call.
Setting Up Wifi In Your Rentals
Choosing Your Internet Provider
If your rental home can support tenant wifi, then your firs real step is to choose your internet service provider (ISP). Essentially, you want to shop around for residential internet deals that offer high-speed and reasonable data rates, as well as voluntary choke-points so you can ensure this amenity never goes to far overbudget.
If possible, get a high-speed internet service that comes in through cable or phone lines. This is the most reliable form, as it cannot be interfered with by weather or signal interference.
Setting Up the Router
Once you have an internet service, you need to set up the wifi router the rental home. You will probably have to buy the wifi router separately from the internet service. We strongly recommend that you mount the router on the wall with a brace near where the television or home office might practically be. Connect the router to the hardline, either your cable box or phone line. Then follow the instructions to access the admin page and set up your network.
Create yourself an admin account, then --if possible-- create a second user account for your tenants so they can do things like check their ip addresses and software reboot when necessary. Remember that you will need to give your tenants their wifi password for the entire plan to work, so be careful how much power you give them with access.
Multi-Family Multi-Network Setup
If you are providing in-home wifi for a multi-family building like a duplex or apartment, then consider setting up multiple separate wifi networks off the same building account. This is a matter or router management and, possibly, multiple routers. It also allows each individual family to have their own access, login, and named network and ensures that your tenants don't invade on each other's internet use when sharing a network. You can keep the same back-end admin controls for all your sub-networks provided to tenants.
Resetting After Disasters
Finally, you want to have a plan for when your router inevitably fails in some critical way or another. Malware might infect the network, a software update might corrupt, or your tenants might accidentally change a setting that confuses you both. The best solution is to simply do a full reset.
Take a backup or notes on your settings when the network is freshly set up and use this to quickly restore your router any time something goes wrong. Simply reset to factory settings, restore from your backup or notes, and send the tenant back to being happy with a normal functional internet connection.
Connecting Your Tenants to the Network
Providing Logins and Resources
When your tenants move in, have a helpful wifi login sheet ready for them including their default guest username and password and instructions for how to access and use the network. If you have any special security measures in place that the tenants will need to know about, now is the time to let them know. You may also want to give them the number of your ISP (internet service provider), property manager, or on-call IT service in case they need to troubleshoot the internet and you are not available. Or if you'd simply prefer they troubleshoot directly rather than through you.
Laying Down Ground Rules
You may also want to establish that the building wifi is not the fastest or most unlimited bandwidth in the city. It'll do everything an internet connection should like surfing the web, streaming media, and run a smart home. But if they want to download huge files or stream 4K games, they might find that the home's provided wifi on the mundane side of their requirements.
If your area only offers metered internet, you will probably also want an account that chokes up on bandwidth after a certain amount of internet is used in a billing period. If that is true, be sure to tell your tenants what the high-speed limit is. They'll understand, as this is how phone plans and metered internet work pretty much everywhere.
Marketing Your Wifi Rentals
Finally, don't forget to include mention of your newly installed wifi access when marketing your rentals. Whether you market continuously for multi-family buildings or only market as tenant turnover is approaching, it's definitely worth putting your high-tech features front-and-center. As internet access becomes increasingly metered, free wifi that is fast enough for everyday use is incredibly valuable to modern high-tech tenants. Those that work online, those that love to surf the web, and anyone with a smart home or smart TV will really appreciate the fact that their home comes pre-equipped with enough wifi to support their lifestyle.
So get the word out! And next upgrade, maybe you'll install a few smart home pieces directly to compliment the wifi that's already in place. Use a wifi symbol on your images and include it near the top of your home features bullet-points. List it in the amenities and include the specific speed and provider specs for tech tenants who really care.
Providing in-house wifi is not actually that complicated. Provided that your property and local internet providers are cooperative with the idea. As long as you have a router and/or technician that you trust, it's simple to offer urban tenants a convenient and practical home wifi network they can use for work, homework, socializing, automation, and online media.
In-home wifi is also the key to smart home rentals. For more great landlording insights from legal to tech and everything in between, contact us today! Our team of rental experts is ready to help you perfect your properties, your pitch, and find you great tenants at your next turnover point.