What Should You Know About Electronic Lease Signing?

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Electronic lease signing is a relatively new concept. In the past, renting an apartment involved sitting down with a leasing agent or property manager in person after an apartment tour to review the paperwork and sign. Fortunately, today’s technology continues to revolutionize our lives, meaning property owners and tenants are fortunate enough to give virtual apartment tours and sign electronic leases online.

However, as with any digitized process, signing electronic leases online does bring about a host of worries for both renters and property owners. While some might feel uncomfortable, digital signatures are equivalent to handwritten signatures. Let’s explore the ins and outs of electronic lease signing.

What is an electronic lease?

A lease, by legal definition, is a document that governs the relationship between the property owner and the renter. The contract should indicate the terms of the lease and regulate the financial relations of the parties. It’s valid irrespective of the type of accommodation rented (such as a condo, apartment, or house). It can take three forms: verbal, written, or electronic.

On the flip side, an electronic lease is an entirely paperless, secure lease agreement sent to your smartphone, tablet, or personal computer. Two-factor authentication eliminates the need to mail, fax, scan, or print documents, saving renters and property owners time and effort. As you read over your online lease, be aware of the following:

  • The process for renewing the lease and moving out
  • The lease period (start date and end date)
  • The rent amount and the due date
  • The process to terminate the lease and the cost of breaking the lease
  • Pet restrictions and fees
  • Late fees
  • Discussed changes (ensure the lease includes them)
  • Any included utilities
  • Rules about guests and noise
  • Regulations and policies regarding cosmetic changes you are and aren’t allowed to make
  • Rules concerning adding roommates
  • Additional fees
  • Any prohibitions (actions you cannot take, such as subletting the apartment)
  • Requirements for renter’s insurance, if any
  • Parking rules and fees

Electronic signature vs. digital signature

You may need a digital or electronic signature when signing a lease online. While frequently used interchangeably, these words have slight differences.

What is an electronic signature?

An e-signature or electronic signature allows individuals to give consent or show they approve of the contents of a document. However, it’s applied electronically without having to scan or sign a document physically, and it’s legally binding, secure, and verifiable. An electronic signature is also a quick, easy way to sign documents online.

What is a digital signature?

Enabled by proven public key infrastructure technology, a digital signature uses an advanced mathematical technique to check the authenticity and integrity of data. Digital signatures create a virtual fingerprint unique to a person or entity and help overcome the problem of impersonation and tampering. Digital signatures can detect unauthorized modifications to data and verify the identity of the person signing the document.

How does online electronic lease signing work?

Some property management companies have an online portal where you can log in and electronically sign your lease documents. If you are asked to electronically sign a digital lease sent to your email, follow these step-by-step instructions to sign an apartment lease electronically online: 

  1. Upload the document
  2. Once uploaded, the document will open in the online editor
  3. Select your signature
  4. Choose one of three options to generate a signature: type, draw, or upload an image of a handwritten one
  5. Once you create a signature, click OK
  6. Finish the process by clicking Done

You’ll have access to your signed documents anytime.

The benefits of online electronic lease signing for renters 

There are many benefits associated with online apartment lease agreements for both the renter and the landlord. Here are few of the advantages:

Save time

Online leases are accessible instantaneously to property owners and renters. Just as online leases save time for property owners, the process will save time for renters as it eliminates the cumbersome process of emailing, printing, signing, scanning, and returning. Ideally, the renter can take the time to read and review the lease in private thoroughly, and when the renter signs it online, the property owner immediately gets it.

Security

Online lease agreements saved in the cloud are more secure than conventional paper files. If you email, fax, and mail lease agreements, your private information and the property owner’s data are at risk.

Compliant

Electronic lease signatures adhere to the Electronic Transaction Act (Vic) 2000 and are binding, traceable, and valid. The authentication process, disclaimers, and checkboxes make sure the signatory shows clear intent.

Eco-friendly

Most lease agreements are multiple pages, with some up to 20 and more pages, which means apartment management and renters use a lot of paper to print copies. Electronic lease signing eliminates the need for paper, positively affecting your carbon footprint.

No storage necessary

No one needs to take up precious storage space in an office or home to store paper leases with electronic lease signing. And it’s easy to pull up the lease from the cloud. Conversely, you could lose or accidentally ruin paper leases. Furthermore, trying to find a lease that you may not have filed appropriately could be time-consuming.

Automated renewals 

Electronic lease signing online functions provide simple solutions for conveniently renewing your lease agreement with your property owner. 

Less stressful move-in

Renters usually have many questions when nearing their move-in date. The lease indicates which utilities renters are responsible for, how to pay the first month’s rent, and much more. If the renter understands the lease terms before moving in, this understanding can help them feel more prepared when planning their moving day checklist.

Speedy interaction

Electronic lease signing makes the entire process more transparent. Renters can see from their accounts where they’re at in the process, and they’ll receive an email when the lease is ready to sign. When both parties review everything, there is less confusion and unnecessary communication, which speeds up the process. 

It’s wise to use this innovative technology to improve and streamline the entire lease signing process. Moreover, with video chat, you can speak directly with the apartment manager and get your questions answered in real time. If you haven’t begun your online apartment search already, consider taking virtual apartment tours to explore potential residences.


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