Internet is a basic utility for many renters, and more and more landlords are starting to offer it as part of a package in their rentals. Providing free internet access can make your place more attractive to tech-savvy renters, and the convenience of an all-inclusive rental agreement can make listings stand out.
There are lots of ways to reduce the cost of internet access and avoid overpaying for service, and many of these money-saving strategies work with your existing internet plan. Try out these five easy tips to help cut your internet costs and benefit your tenants without hurting your bottom line.
Tip #1: Review Your Internet Plan
Understanding your internet plan can help you avoid overpaying for more speed than you or your tenants actually need. Alternatively, slow internet can be a major liability for some rental properties since a frustrated renter might leave a negative review if they encounter connectivity issues.
Running a speed test on your internet service can help you determine how much speed you currently have. Once you’ve measured your internet speed, call around to other internet providers to see if you can switch for a better deal. A speed test can also help you diagnose problems with your connection—if you’re getting less speed than you’re paying for, call your service provider to troubleshoot the issue.
Tip #2: Invest in Your Router
High-speed internet is a worthless investment if your router bottlenecks your tenant’s connection speed. Routers from several years ago might not be able to carry the current Wi-Fi standard (802.11ac), which means your tenants will experience significant lag on their devices. The free routers that come bundled from your service provider are often inadequate, especially if your rental property is on the larger side.
If you own a multi-story rental property, consider investing in a multiband router. These routers focus your Wi-Fi signal into separate signals, which dramatically increases speeds for connected devices. A mesh network can also be used to provide a fast connection in a large home; mesh routers use extenders to widen the range of the main router throughout your home.
Tip #3: Bundle Your TV and Internet
If you’re already providing internet access and cable TV for your rental property, you should check to see if you can bundle your services for a cheaper monthly bill. Call your service provider and ask about bundling more service options into your existing plan. Many companies happily offer steep discounts to existing customers.
If you want to avoid paying for TV altogether, make it easier for tenants to use their own streaming accounts while at your property. Provide them with simple, step-by-step walkthroughs of how to link their accounts to the television, and remove any of their saved account information from your devices after they move out.
Tip #4: Increase Your Wi-Fi Network Security
Many unscrupulous individuals use unsecured Wi-Fi networks to fuel high-traffic enterprises like phishing scams or crypto-currency mining, which can throttle your tenant’s internet speeds and rack up fees on your bill. In the worst-case scenario, a hacker might even access your or your tenant’s sensitive data, which can have huge financial consequences.
To avoid internet bandwidth issues and prevent unnecessary costs, manage your network security through your router. In your router’s settings page, make sure your Wi-Fi network is protected by a long, secure password. Once the password is set, protect your network by enabling WEP, WPA, and/or WPA2 encryption. Finally, make sure your router’s firmware is up to date, and check it regularly to stay on top of any future updates.
Tip #5: Change Your Wi-Fi Channel
If you’re in a heavily populated area, your Wi-Fi router might be competing with lots of other signals on the same channel. You can manually select a less crowded channel to increase your internet speed for free.
First, run a network analyzer tool to determine how many other users are sharing your Wi-Fi’s channel. Next, select a channel with a stronger signal and fewer users to prevent interference with your network. A wider channel isn’t necessarily better—20MHz channels and 40MHz channels will provide the same internet speed, but a 20MHz channel may provide less interference.
Best Practices for Landlords
When providing internet access for tenants, it’s a good idea to have an open conversation about what you’re willing to provide and what you aren’t. Talk to your tenants about the compromises you’re making on the internet speed at your rental property, and see if a less expensive (and slower) connection still meets their needs.
In some instances, your tenants may be happy to underwrite part of the cost for faster internet, and a simple arrangement may work to everyone’s benefit. An open conversation lets you find a balance between cost and speed. With these tips, you’ll be able to reel in more tenants and keep your network running smoothly.