Lease Signing Etiquette & Protocols
December 5, 2022
We’d love to connect with you.
They love the apartment, and the rental terms sound agreeable.
They’re ready to move forward.
Now it’s time to get the lease signed.
In this article, we’re going to review the typical protocols and etiquette for the lease signing process.
It’s not a complicated process, but it’s well worth knowing to stay organized and make sure you complete the steps properly.
Oral Lease Agreement
Before we get into the lease signing protocols, it’s important to mention verbal lease agreements. A verbal rental agreement is legally binding if a tenant is renting property for one year or less. However, if a tenant is renting property for over a year, the oral agreement isn’t legally binding, and the terms must be put into writing to be enforceable.
Even for oral agreements, you still have to provide the tenant with a written statement that includes:
- Your name and contact information
- The contact information for the person who is responsible for the rent
- Rent payment method (i.e., cash, check, money order, or through an online payment platform)
Even though verbal agreements can be binding, it’s always good to have written rental agreements. It’s always better to have everything in writing to save you from potential trouble later.
Tenants can sign a lease in person or online before moving into a new unit. In most instances, online is the preferred method because it is easy and saves time. If the tenant needs to ask questions about the lease, make sure they have your contact information and know-how to connect with you. It’s critical at this juncture to thoroughly respond to any of the tenant’s concerns.
Make sure your lease agreements are clear, in plain language and include all relevant details. Lease agreements are vital documents in the rental business. They set the terms of engagement and protect you from liability later if unfortunate events occur.
If you don’t want tenants to sign lease agreements online, you can mail the tenant the lease and have them send it back through the post office. Some landlords require the tenant to have the signature notarized. Another option is to email or text the lease to the tenant, then they print it out, sign it, and mail it back.
A key caveat is that the lease needs to be signed by anyone who will be living on the property. It also needs to be signed by you.
Signing the Lease
The tenant should sign the lease first. The reason for this is that if you’ve already signed the lease, then you have to wait for a response from the renters. During the interim, you cannot rent the property to another applicant because the other applicant could show up with the signed original lease. This means you lose out on money while you wait. This potential scenario is why it’s vital to send an unsigned copy. You need to give yourself the flexibility to rent to someone else if the original applicant goes M.I.A.
Copies of the Lease
Anyone who signed the lease needs a copy of the contract. Storing copies in a safe place is important. If the lease is online, the Cloud is a great place to store it. This is the most secure way to keep track of leases. Some property managers or landlords may charge the tenant to get more than one copy of the lease.
If you use property management software, your tenant portal makes it easy to share a copy of the lease with renters at any time.
It’s also a great idea to store copies of lease agreements for past tenants, especially until any statute of limitations expires on the tenancy.
Cover Your Bases
If you are unsure about your lease terms or the lease signing process, you should have your contract reviewed by a licensed lawyer conversant with landlord-tenant laws in your state. Each state has different requirements about rental leases and what can be included in a lease agreement. Better safe than sorry when it comes to crucial documents like leases.
The lease signing protocols are straightforward but very useful to know. The more detailed and upfront your process is, the smoother things will go.
When leasing, it’s important to get everything in writing and make sure the tenant signs first. These things, along with the other details outlined in this article, will help ensure the lease signing process goes well.