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Multi Tenant Intercom System – Buying Guide

Modified On: July 24, 2022

Multi-tenant intercom systems are widely used in apartment, condo and commercial buildings. As a manufacturer of multi-tenant video intercom systems, we wrote this article to help you to understand different multi-tenant intercom brands, their prices, features and comparison.

Multi tenant intercom
Multi tenant intercom

What is a multi-tenant intercom system?

Multi-tenant intercom systems allow a building visitor to select from a list of intercom entries in a directory, and ring a person inside the building. Modern intercoms make a phone call or a mobile app based video call to the resident or tenant. Many systems have the ability to release the door remotely. We will cover various types of intercoms below.

What are Multi Tenant Video Intercoms?

Video intercom systems allow a tenant to see and talk to the visitor, before buzzing them in. Porch pirates have figured out that they can pretend to be delivery drivers and get buzzed in. This has resulted in a big spike in package theft – over $6B worth of package theft a year in the US. Using video intercoms, you can see who is at the door, before releasing the door.  Video intercoms are internet based, and make wireless calls. They are cheaper than fixing older wired intercoms that connect into individual units. 

Woman taking a video intercom call with a delivery person
Multi-tenant video Intercoms

What are the various types of multi-tenant intercoms?

Wired multi-tenant intercoms

Most older buildings have these wired intercom systems. They connect the door entry system to every single unit over a wired connection. They work reliably for decades. Many companies that  used to sell these are out of business now, and it’s expensive to find parts and hire people to fix them. They are getting replaced with video and telephone line intercoms. 

Telephone line multi-tenant intercoms

Systems like Doorking and Linear make telephone line intercoms. These eliminate the need for wiring each unit. Telephone line intercoms connect using a telephone or cellular line and make phone calls to tenants. Telecom companies are shutting down landline business and the cost of running these lines is getting very expensive. Telephone intercoms have been popular for the last decade or more, but are getting replaced with video intercoms. The main reasons include ease of use of modern video intercoms, and higher safety from knowing who is at the door. 

Multi-tenant video intercoms

Instead of repairing older wired intercoms, most buildings today replace them with video intercoms. That’s because it’s cheaper to install video intercoms and you get more safety and functionality. No need to wire every unit with the new system. Video intercoms just take a single internet connection to the main entry station. When a visitor dials a tenant from the directory, these systems make a call through the internet, to a tenant’s phone. Most video systems can also make regular telephone calls, in case you have any residents or users that are not tech savvy. Video intercoms also allow remotely unlocking the door for the visitor. 

See how Swiftlane’s Video Intercom Works

Apartment multi-tenant intercoms

Apartment intercoms should be easy to use by people of all ages. They should be easy to manage by a property manager or a condo board member. Modern systems allow managing the intercom remotely from a web browser from anywhere. 

We have put together a comprehensive guide to multi-tenant intercoms for apartments. Please read this guide for best multi-tenant apartment intercoms.

Multi Tenant Intercom for Apartment Buildings
Apartment Building Intercom

Condo multi-tenant intercoms

Condominium buildings have similar needs as apartment buildings. The board members and property manager should be able to use these easily without having to hire technical people. You shouldn’t have to worry about technical issues around programming the system. A new system these days should support both video calling but also telephone calls for people of all ages and preferences. Our guide for apartment intercoms would still be the best resource for reviewing condo intercom systems.

Commercial office buildings multi-tenant intercom 

Commercial landlords need a reliable intercom system that can be used by all their commercial tenants. 

I recommend reading our complete guide to go over the best commercial office intercoms.

Multi Tenant Intercom for Commercial Buildings

What features to look for in multi-tenant intercom systems?

Some things to consider when looking for a new system:

  • Does the system support wired calling or wireless calling
  • Does the system provide audio or video calls?
  • Does it come with the ability to release the door remotely?
  • Can multiple people receive the calls at the same time
  • Can you customize the display names for each entry
  • Is it easy and cost effective to retrofit?
  • Can it be used by people of all ages and demographics easily?
  • Is this a vandal resistant system? 
  • Is this a touch screen or push button style system?
  • Does it increase the curb appeal of my building?
  • Does it attract tenants into the building by providing a high end experience?
  • Does it support a multi-tenant intercom directory with customized display names
  • Is it possible to change these entries remotely without having to visit each intercom device?
  • What devices can receive the call? Phone, tablet, computer, telephone call etc
  • Can calls be received remotely?
  • Does the system allow scheduled calling during business hours
  • Can calls be routed to multiple people, in case one person is busy
  • Can the system be easily installed and managed without lots of technical training
  • Can the system provide access control functionality like key card access, mobile app access, face unlock etc?
  • Can the system work across all entry points, like gate, front door, elevators, turnstiles etc

How much do multi-tenant intercoms cost?

Telephone line intercoms cost between $1200-$2400. Video intercom systems cost between $1400-$5500. You have to also factor in the cost of installation and any ongoing fees. Ongoing fees are needed for the landline/cellular system, or for the cost of video intercom calling through the company’s servers. 

How do I get my intercom repaired?

If you are looking to get a wired intercom system repaired, you are likely going to get a major sticker shock while trying to repair it. It’s very hard to repair the wiring running through a fully constructed building, and you have trouble finding the right parts. I would start by searching for the company’s contact info online and reach out to them about a local installer. 

If you are looking to get a quote for a wireless intercom system, you can reach out to video intercom manufacturers to request a quote. 

Why Every Multi Unit Building Should Have a Multi Tenant Intercom System

Multi tenant intercom systems have been around for at least a hundred years, but their importance and need has never been greater than in the present post-COVID world. For multifamily properties, most of your tenants have been working from home for most part of the last two years. Most of them are buying most of their stuff online, which has caused the number of deliveries to your building to skyrocket. If you are like most building managers, the odds are your front-desk staff is drowning in deliveries.

And then, there are the social trends that technology has triggered. Mobile phones and apps have made people more accessible. Your guests don’t want to wait, nor do your tenants or employees. They want to be able to see and talk to the person at the door and unlock the door themselves, without the assistance of an intermediary front-desk staff. Video intercom systems provide a simple, reliable, and efficient solution to such problems.

Here are the most compelling benefits of the latest multi tenant intercom systems that make them essential for every modern multi-unit property.

1. Talk before You Unlock and Ramp Up Security

These are not the times when you could risk going to the main door to check who was knocking. Multi Tenant intercom systems ramp up a building’s security by letting tenants and/or security teams speak with visitors via voice and video calling from their apartments units or office suites. It is a simple and one of the most reliable ways to ascertain visitors’ identity before letting them into the building.

Other building entry methods such as keycards, pins, and even mobile unlock can become insecure when the card or mobile is stolen. With a multi-tenant video intercom system installed at the entry, you can be 100% sure that you are not letting in somebody who is not authorized to enter the building, while making sure that authorized guests and visitors don’t have to wait.

2. Reduce Package Theft and Ensure Secure Package Delivery

Package delivery has become a serious problem for multifamily properties after COVID. With everyone working from home and ordering most of their supplies online, the number of deliveries have surged tremendously. With a single-tenant intercom or no intercom, the role of your lobby staff is reduced to little more than human doorbells and package handlers. 

Still, an astonishing $6 billion worth of packages were estimated to be stolen in 2020.  Almost 50% of apartment and townhouse residents and more than 60% of condominium residents reported a missing or stolen package. The so-called porch pirates enter the building by claiming to be delivery guys and make away with packages already lying there waiting to be collected.

With a multi-tenant video intercom system installed, the addressee of the delivery or the security staff can see if the person at the door is really who they claim they are. SIP enabled video intercom systems can route visitors’ calls to your mobile, so you can speak to delivery personnel and unlock the door remotely even when you’re away from the building.

3. Know Who Came through the Door by Storing Calls and Entry Logs 

Cloud-connected IP based intercom systems can store all entry events and calls in the cloud. Security teams and users can access call logs and visitor photos from anywhere using web browsers and mobile applications. This allows security teams to know who pressed the call button and/or entered the building at any specific date and time in case of an emergency.

4. Reduce the Number of Failed Visits by Calling Residents on Mobile

IP intercom systems can also connect with mobile phones using SIP or Session Initiation Protocols. SIP based IP intercoms can make voice and video calls and send instant messages over private IP networks as well as call mobile phones over LTE. Users of SIP enabled multi tenant intercoms can call other users on their mobile phones even when they are not in the building. 

Swiftlane’s multi-tenant video intercom system can connect visitors’ calls via mobile app, LTE, and even a legacy apartment phone line without requiring additional cables.

5. Improve the Visitor Experience and Plug Security Loopholes

Multi Tenant intercom systems cut down waiting times by letting visitors speak directly to the person they’re visiting and gain entry into the building. They eliminate the need to use keycards, links or pins for guest access, although these options can be added to provide more convenience and security. 

The freedom from key cards puts an end to the perpetual lost or stolen card problem. It also reduces the operational burden and expense and improves security. 

6. Increase Tenant Satisfaction and Increase Occupancy

Tenants and employees can feel more secure and satisfied because they can speak to and watch the visitors sitting right in their apartment unit or office suite as well as from anywhere outside the building. They can be sure their guests will not have to experience the frustration of making an unattended call or wait for them to get back to the apartment and let them in. 

With a multi-tenant intercom system installed in your building, each tenant will know instantly when a delivery arrives for them, so they can secure the package and prevent it from getting lost or stolen.

7. Deliver a Great Impression and Increase Rental Value

An aesthetically designed modern video intercom system at the front door makes a great impression on your first-time visitors, clients, contractors, and guests. It delivers a seamless entry experience while providing a sense of security. An intercom system is one of those things that can increase the rental value of a building.

Swiftlane’s Swiftreader has the option to include facial recognition unlock, which allows high-value visitors to enter your office just by facing the reader. Visitors can also use mobile unlock when they have the secure entry codes sent to them by their hosts.

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