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Surveying 1,000 renters on their feelings toward connected devices and smart-home living, Assurant has found that 86% of renters said they believe tech support could greatly increase a property management firm’s brand perception, while 56% said a connected home ecosystem could influence their next rental choice.

“Renters’ priorities are changing as the demand for work-from-home amenities and other connected features become the norm,” says Ryan Lumsden, president of Assurant Renters Solutions. “As a result, 24/7 technical support modernizes a building's maintenance support to address the new problems renters face without having to add additional headcount.”

Although 55% of renters said they have decent knowledge of connected and smart-home devices, 19% admitted they need technical assistance on a regular basis. For connected devices, most renters noted having smartphones (96%), computers (75%), and tablets (53%), while smaller percentages reported having streaming devices (45%), gaming systems (41%), and Bluetooth headphones (41%), among others. For smart-home devices, 54% noted having some form of smart-home technology in their apartment. Renters largely cited smart TVs (73%) and smart speakers (40%) as the most common.

When suggesting a product like Assurant’s Personal TechPro—a tech support solution being offered to property management companies—62% said they perceive an embedded product with unlimited tech support that could be included as part of a lease agreement as highly valuable. Fifty-seven percent also said they think that an optional personalized tech support service product for a nominal fee could be highly valuable.

Considering the possibility of this type of product and tech service, 88% of respondents said they would use an embedded product, and 81% said they would use an optional product.

Of those who responded they would not use an optional fee-based product, most (56%) noted that they could handle technology tasks on their own or with an online video tutorial, while others (18%) reported being concerned of the additional cost to their rent payment. Among respondents who noted they would not use an embedded product, 45% said they could handle tasks on their own, and 31% said they do not own enough devices to utilize the service.

“The research makes clear that technical support service is an increasingly attractive and unique solution to support renters who need help with their connected appliances and devices. Property management companies that adapt to the changing landscape and create additional, relevant value for their tenants can position themselves favorably in the minds of renters,” Lumsden adds.

Younger age groups were more open to optional, fee-based services than older groups like boomers and traditionalists. The decrease could be attributed to the lower levels of connected device ownership and interest in general, research suggests. Looking at pricing, the survey found that an acceptable range for a monthly tech support fee fell between $5 and $7, or $6 for an optimal price point.