Is Providing Tenants with Free Internet a Smart Move?

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on April 10, 2010 under Housing Trends, Landlord and Tenant FAQs, Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

man-writing-at-laptopIn 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau reported 62% of U.S. households used the Internet in their home. That’s an enormous increase from 18% in 1997, the first year Internet use was tracked. 82% of those users reported having high-speed access, and 17% reported use of a dial-up connection. By October, 2009, some reports stated that Internet-using households in the U.S. increased to 69%.

It’s clear that the majority of American households use the Internet. And, the majority of those users have high-speed access. Demand has been overwhelmingly established. The only question is who pays for it?

Free Internet service is a common tenant perk. In some areas, it’s a given that a rental condo or apartment will come with free Internet—even though it might be bundled into the rent. In other markets, tenants are expected to pay for all of their utilities themselves—including Internet service.

And even though the first quarter apartment rent report showed promising results in some markets, things are still tough in the rental property business. Plenty of competition means owners continue to create incentives to attract good tenants. Is providing Internet service a good move?

Look at your market. Survey and other online listing services for rental housing offers in your category. If the majority of single-family rentals do not brag about free Internet, you might need to provide it in yours. But, if you own an apartment building near your local college campus, and everyone else in the For Rent category is offering free Internet, you might have just found the reason your rentals are not filling up fast enough.

Check with your local Internet service provider about the cost of wireless service. Modem leases and monthly charges vary. Ask about security, too—especially if you have a duplex or multi-family housing situation. You don’t want a situation where tenants are vulnerable to stolen information—and you don’t want to provide free Internet to the entire neighborhood! Your ISP should be able to set up a secure system for your rental units quickly.

Whether you pass the cost along to your tenants or not probably depends on the cost, right? Still, hearing “free Internet” might be the tipping point that makes a potential tenant a year-long lease-signing tenant. And if you’re in need of some more of those, you might want to at least consider providing free Internet.

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