How to Sign a Lease via Email
December 5, 2022
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Signing A Lease Via Email
As a busy landlord, you don’t have time for traditional paper leases.
It’s time-consuming to print paper copies, align your schedule with prospective tenants, and figure out a time to meet.
Thankfully, online leases eliminate all of that.
You can simply email your lease agreement to a potential tenant. They can read through it on their own time and sign it if they agree with the terms.
How does this process work exactly, though?
Let’s break it down.
What are the Steps for Signing an Online Lease?
Step 1: Organize the Lease
First, you need to make sure your lease is ready to send. Check all of the fields and boxes to ensure everything is working and where you want it to be. If you’re working from a template, make sure you haven’t forgotten to make any tweaks to it that are needed for the specific tenant you’re sending it to.
Also, send over any relevant documents (for example, an included pet addendum). The more prepared you are upfront, the fewer times you and a tenant will need to go back and forth. This will help lessen confusion and prevent miscommunication.
Step 2: Send the Lease
Now you need to send the lease over to the tenant. This is as simple as attaching the necessary documents, putting in the correct email address, and sending it off for review!
Step 3: Tenant’s Review
Next, your tenant will need a little time to review the lease. Don’t allow too much time; you don’t want to be stuck with a vacancy if they change their mind for some reason. Most landlords give tenants about 48 hours to sign a lease before they move on to other applicants. We wouldn’t recommend anything less than that, and anything too far beyond that could put you in a frustrating holding pattern.
If your tenant agrees with the terms, they will print, sign, scan, and then email the agreement back to you with their signature on it.
Step 4: Review and Sign the Lease
When signing a lease agreement via email, make sure your tenant signs the lease first. Why? If you sign a lease first and then the tenant doesn’t sign, it could be risky to stop advertising the unit while waiting for the signature. That lost time could be used to find another tenant. You are also not collecting rent on the vacant unit, so you’re losing money. And, even worse, if you send the agreement to another tenant because you haven’t heard from the first tenant, and then they both sign, you now have two signed leases to deal with.
Your signature finalizes the contract, so nothing is final until both signatures are on the agreement. You’re well within your rights to send a lease to other tenants if a tenant is late getting back to you. But this is why you mustn’t sign anything until you have the tenant’s signature.
If you do send the lease to multiple tenants and then go with the one who gets back to you first, make sure you communicate to the other tenants that the rental isn’t available anymore.
If you sign the lease after the tenant and they don’t pay the required move-in fees, you can void the lease. Move-in fees typically entail the first month’s rent and security deposit.
In most cases, though, your tenant will email you the signed document, and then you can finalize the agreement with your signature and provide copies for everyone.
Are Online Leases Legally Binding?
A lease sent through email provides enhanced convenience but is just as legally binding as a paper lease signed in person.
Since the eSign Act of Congress was enacted and signed electronically in 2000, digital signatures have been considered equal to any physical signature. The Act says that “(1) a signature, contract, or other record relating to such transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form; and (2) a contract relating to such transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because an electronic signature or electronic record was used in its formation.”
Signing a lease via email is a simple process. But it’s important to understand the nuances of the leasing process.
Conducting the lease-signing process through email eliminates the need to meet in person, saving you valuable time and effort.