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Smart Tech for Student Housing Isn’t Just a Trend, It's What Student Renters Want

If you work in student housing, you know. If you have college-age family members, you know. The rest of you may be surprised to learn that today’s student housing is dramatically less “rough around the edges” than you may remember from your time as an undergraduate.

According to Forbes, the quality of student housing available ranks highly in the decision that a student and their family makes when selecting a school, and much has changed for the better in the last several decades. Purpose-built student housing, the term used to describe housing specifically designed and built by private developers to accommodate college students, has evolved. Apartments are leased by the bed and offered fully furnished. And the amenities included at the community can be extensive, help to attract new leases, and are important to the overall living experience.

While over-the-top amenities such as climbing walls and in-house movie theaters had a moment in the spotlight, today’s typical amenity packages are less sensational and more practical. reports that pools, fitness centers, and communal spaces such as game rooms are dominating student demand once again. But the amenity that tops the list is state-of-the-art technology.

Daniel Bernstein, President and Chief Investment Officer of Philadelphia-based Campus Apartments, spoke to the National Apartment Association about student housing renter preference earlier this year. “Our customer base is quite savvy. They are streaming content, taking on-line credits, gaming, etc., so we have had to be ahead of the curve on the tech front. They often also prefer to communicate with a tech solution rather than a human being, so we have taken strides to automate and enhance our operating platform to respond to that preference.”

In addition to an increased preference for technology to student renters, an emphasis in security protocols can benefit communities in high-volume suburb locations particularly. In the case of CA student living, providing a secure, yet non-intrusive environment is at the forefront of strategy, with systems like ButterflyMX’s sleek video intercom to manage traffic flow and monitor unwanted visitors and vendors on property. Personalized key fobs and buildings with smart access parameters set guest access limits and help building operators and property managers monitor common areas and establish designated hours of use.

  • Livly Key keyless smart locks save time and eliminate hassle for both residents and staff and can be utilized both on individual apartments and common areas such as fitness and package rooms. Easy single-tap activation allows management to instantly grant and revoke key access. No more lockouts or lost keys

  • Livly Guest Kiosk smart guest access provides a simple and secure way for staff and residents to manage approved guests, delivery persons, and service providers. Using the Livly Guest Kiosk, guests can look up residents by name or unit number. Residents enjoy immediate notification of their guest’s arrival via SMS, push notification, and/or email, and guests are added to the building’s digital visitor log

  • Livly Smart Devices in-home apartment technologies including thermostats, leak detection devices, and lighting control allow residents to control their personal space, reduce utility bills, prevent problems and costly repairs, and potentially lower insurance premiums. Centralized management of unoccupied units and streamline unit turnover

  • Digitally connected communities allow residents to pay rent, receive package alerts, submit service requests, book amenities, connect with neighbors, and complete transactions such as renewal leases all from their smart devices

  • Livly Community Wi-Fi is perhaps the amenity student populations appreciate most. Ultra-fast connectivity everywhere means student residents aren’t confined to their apartment but can stream classes or entertainment from everywhere. Wi-Fi as a digital amenity enables higher rents and increased retention

According to the National Apartment Association, “Smart tech amenities were once lofty goals that could provide a community with a competitive edge. Environmental, safety and pandemic-related concerns have pushed smart tech to the forefront of consumer preference and demand.”

Investing in proptech upgrades in order to meet the demands of the student housing population appears to be a smart strategy. Both occupancy and rent growth are strong in the student housing sector and forecast to remain so. According to recent analysis conducted by RealPage Market Analytics, 2022 pre-lease figures for student housing providers “show that, yet again, occupancy and rent growth smashed previous records to stand at their highest ever rates.” Year-over-year effective rent growth hit 5.9% in August, 2022, a new record.

With recent headlines focused on a cooling rental market, the student housing sector remains red hot. Adoption of smart home technologies allows rental housing owners and managers to appeal to and meet the demands of their always connected, digital native student housing residents.


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