Whether you’ve excitedly played around with ChatGPT, or you’ve avoided artificial intelligence, quietly preparing for the droid apocalypse—AI is coming, and coming fast. Bill Gates’ famous 1996 quote about the pace of technology is very relevant here: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”
AI will first step into those roles that can be most easily automated or that are admin-related. For investors, this is a boon when it comes to property management, as so many of our tasks fall into this repetitive, follow-up-intensive category.
1. Smart Home Automation
This is the 101 of AI and something you may already be using in your rental units (and in your own home). From thermostats that “learn” your tenants’ schedules and set the temperature accordingly to deadbolts that automatically lock when the door is closed (and then can be opened by a thumbprint in person or your app remotely), these kinds of easy home automations can save you all kinds of money and effort.
Giving your tenants access to an always-available AI chatbot means you can take an enormous load off your live team (or yourself).
Imagine a tenant with a leaky faucet. They flag this with the maintenance chatbot. The chatbot responds immediately, letting the tenant know exactly when to expect a maintenance call and the name of the handyman they should expect. Cue a very relaxed tenant.
Even better, the chatbot, understanding the issue perfectly, can say something like, “Don’t want to wait? Want to try to address yourself?” and then serve up a video on how to tighten things up so the faucet no longer leaks.
Obviously, there are some repairs you don’t want your tenants attempting, but for those you do, this is a great way to cut down on easy maintenance requests.
Imagine also that you have an emergency in one of your units—a pipe burst, for example. The chatbot can immediately launch into whatever your 911 protocol is, calling your emergency maintenance line, calling you—whatever process you’ve put into place. No more tenants leaving messages and waiting anxiously for someone to call them back: The solution is already underway.
3. Predictive Maintenance
AI can easily keep track of the expected life span and service needs of your rentals’ appliances, batteries, smoke detectors, and light bulbs. This means you can replace or service the unit at the exact moment it’s needed—not after an emergency call or too soon, so you don’t get the full value of your purchase. AI can flag and create a maintenance call according to that schedule, saving you a ton of time and money.
4. Tenant Screening and Onboarding
With the ability to quickly crunch important renter data inputs like credit scores, rental history, employment, criminal records, and even social media posts, AI services can use predictive machine learning to help you find the perfect tenants. Once you’ve decided on a tenant, you can use AI to trigger all the necessary lease documents and onboarding information, including automating the intel on how to pay rent and monthly reminders.
How to Get Started
Figure out the property management tasks you least like to do, the things your management company does least well, or the tasks that take up the most human resources, and seek out an AI platform or software to help automate it.