Online Leases: How Do They Work?
April 3, 2019
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How Do Online Leases Work?
Online leases are a valuable tool for improving your property management. Among other great benefits, they can reduce your units’ turnover time while simultaneously adding convenience for your tenants. If you’re unsure about the legality or difficulty of leasing online, there’s no need to worry. We’ve addressed these common misconceptions (and others!) to assure you that leasing online is advantageous to your rental business.
Fortunately, transitioning to electronic leases is very simple. Here are the steps you’ll need to take:
- Uploading Your Lease
- Assigning Roles
- Indicating Lease Fields
- Sharing Your Lease
We’ve also included some bonus tips for making the most of your online lease:
- The ‘Me (When Sending)’ Feature
- Creating Templates
Step 1: Uploading Your Lease
When you decide to move your lease online, you won’t have to re-create them from scratch. Any lease that you’ve used in the past can be uploaded, so you can continue using what works best for you. Documents can be uploaded directly from your computer or cloud-based (OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) storage. While a variety of formats and file types will work, leases saved as PDF and Word documents tend to work the best. They’ll give you the best chance of maintaining the exact space and sizing of your original document.
Step 2: Assigning Roles
Once your document is uploaded, you’ll need to determine who will be signing the lease. If you’re leasing a house to three tenants, for instance, there should be four roles. You would assign yourself as “Landlord” and have one role for each of the three tenants. In some cases (such as in student housing), you might also add a role for a co-signer or guarantor. This person won’t be living in the unit, but they still need to sign the lease signifying their agreement to take over rent payment responsibilities if the primary tenant should default. If desired, you can assign a specific signing order to have more control over your leasing process.
Step 3: Indicating Lease Fields
There are many ways that information can be formatted on a lease. In addition to initial and signature fields, you’ll need to identify the text box, checkbox, and date fields in your lease as well. Once these fields are placed on your uploaded lease (simply drag and drop where appropriate), they can all be filled in by you and your tenants electronically. Always be sure to save your work throughout the process.
In some instances, it may be helpful to include data validation in your lease fields. This verifies that the appropriate criteria for that specific text box is met. For example, if you select an ‘email’ validation, the information in that text box won’t be valid unless it matches an email format. The same goes for ‘numeric’ or ‘date’ validations. This is a great way to ensure that all your information is formatted properly.
Step 4: Sharing Your Online Lease
Leases are ready for sharing immediately after set-up. So once your fields are established, ensure that you’ve saved your document and you’re all set! Tenants are sent a link to sign the lease via email. Unless the original contents of the lease agreement need to be altered, you’ll never have to format the document again.
[BONUS] The ‘Me (When Sending)’ Feature
You’ll quickly notice how much faster your renting process becomes once your leases are formatted online. However, you may still find yourself filling out redundant information. This is where the ‘Me (When Sending)’ feature comes in. It allows you to create and auto-fill custom fields, saving you even more time.
Fields marked to be completed with the ‘Me (When Sending)’ option will allow you to create custom labels for each one. Once you populate each label here, they will automatically populate every corresponding label on the lease. Let’s say one of your fields is “Lease end date”. ‘Me (When Sending)’ allows you to enter the info only one time, and every other “Lease end date” field will already be filled out accordingly.
[BONUS] Creating Templates
The typical flow of your online lease is as follows: 1) Template 2) Draft 3) Live lease. Templates are one of the biggest advantages to signing your leases electronically. While not every unit has the same exact lease, many them probably follow a similar structure. By saving the basic lease format as a template, you can specify the details for each unit as a draft, without altering the template for other units. Additionally, templates allow users to create auto-fill fields, recurring fields, and much more.
Much of the time you put into leasing online is only on the front-end. Once your document is uploaded and the fields are set, you can continue to reuse it for as long as you deem appropriate. It won’t take much time for both you and your tenants to realize the ease and efficiency of signing and renewing leases electronically.
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