Accessing, signing and storing documents of all kinds online is commonplace in today’s increasingly digital world. Nevertheless, many landlords are reluctant to make the switch from traditional pen and paper to digital. Of course, it’s important to be cautious about making major changes to your business, particularly those that have legal implications. But, some of the wariness surrounding online leasing is unwarranted. Misconceptions are driving much of the apprehension. Trust us, signing leases online can save you and your tenants a tremendous amount of time and headache.
Trust us, signing leases online can save you and your tenants a tremendous amount of time and headache.
Here are the five most common myths about online leases:
- Online leases aren’t legally valid.
- Electronic signatures aren’t secure.
- Leasing online is more trouble than it’s worth.
- Online leasing is for the tech-savvy.
- Online leasing is too costly.
Let’s take a minute to examine your doubt and dispel your hesitancy by reviewing these five myths:
Myth #1: Online leases aren’t legally valid.
The eSign Act that President Clinton signed in 2000 ensures that electronic rental agreements are 100 percent legally valid. As long as your lease contains all the basic terms of tenancy (which every lease should have already), the electronic signatures on the lease have the same legitimacy and enforceability as a hand-signed document. Additionally, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) grants electronic documents the same at the state level, so they will hold up in any court in the U.S.
Myth #2: Electronic signatures aren’t secure.
A wet signature refers to a traditional pen-on-paper approach to signing. It’s unique to you, it can’t be hacked, and it’s stood the test of time — right?
On the contrary, electronic signatures are significantly more secure than wet signatures. All it takes for an individual to forge a wet signature is a pen, some time and practice. Forging an electronic signature takes a lot more effort — the falsifier would need to obtain information on when the relevant parties are generating the document, the identity of the signers, passwords to protected accounts, and the device and appropriate IP address. So, it’s actually not quite as simple as replicating scribbles on a page.
If prospective tenants get suspicious about signing an online lease, you can tell them that each electronic signature provides lessors a digital “paper” trail, enabling them to see exactly when tenants accessed and signed the document. Additionally, the IP address of the device that tenants use to sign the documents can indicate the general location where they sign it. If a tenant ever refutes signing a lease, these security features on electronic signatures are critical. Traditional signatures just don’t provide the same reassurance and depth of information.
Myth #3: Leasing online is more trouble than it’s worth.
Yes, it does take a little time to set up your leases for digital signing. However, the process is extremely quick — it only takes a few simple steps to have it ready for immediate sharing and signing. Most documents can be set up in under 20 minutes, and you only need to do this once for each unique lease. The best part is that your online lease saves time and money during each renewal cycle. You can save any leases you upload as a template that you can reuse or edit, so you won’t have to print off a whole new lease each time you make small changes.
Online leases also make life smoother for your tenants, which they will surely appreciate.
Online leases also make life smoother for your tenants, which they will surely appreciate. They won’t have to agree on a time and place to meet and sign together, which helps you fill vacancies faster. And, tenants won’t need to reach out to you for basic questions since they can reference their lease online at any time.
Myth #4: Online leasing is only for the tech-savvy.
Don’t worry – you don’t need to be a technology expert to take your leases online. After all, the entire process is designed to simplify life for you and your tenants. Over the years, competition in online document signing software has pushed signature products to become more and more intuitive. In a nutshell, all landlords need to do is upload the lease that they already use and indicate where on that document tenants need to sign. Most providers enable you to do this by dragging and dropping specific fields (like the date or signature) where they are appropriate, so tenants know clearly what they must provide throughout the lease.
Whether you are tech-savvy or not, you can bet that an increasing number of your tenants are. The rental market has witnessed an influx of mobile-minded millennial tenants, so you want to be able to provide them the convenience of signing leases directly from their phones or tablets. Additionally, having access to leases from anywhere is a huge bonus. Mobile notifications and on-the-go access means leases don’t get stuck languishing behind your busy schedule. As soon as you or your tenants are ready to sign, the lease is ready for you.
Myth #5: Online leasing is too costly.
Good news: If you’re using Innago to manage your rental properties, online leases are completely free to use. That includes unlimited signatures, unlimited templates, unlimited storage, mobile signing, and direct integration with our screening and collection services. It’s a pretty great deal.
If you want to go with a different platform, we have some bad news: few vendors provide online lease signing at no cost. In fact, we’re not aware of any. But if you want to pay for a feature you can get for free on Innago, there are a few routes you can take.
The first would be to go directly through companies like HelloSign or DocuSign, which make it possible for users to create and manage online documents of all sorts, not just leases. Both offer free, limited plans, but can cost you anywhere from $15 to $50 per month should you decide to upgrade. The price varies based on your volume of units and the number of unique lease templates you need.
Alternatively, some property management software companies like Innago offer online leasing services. But again, unlike Innago, they’ll charge for it. Fees will be paid in one of two manners – either as part of a bundle that is paid for monthly, or by document (usually at a rate of about $5 per document signed). Pricing for these options vary drastically, but small to mid-sized landlords should expect to incur $10 to $20 a month in fees for software that includes electronic leases, plus any additional per document charges.
Regardless of the service you use to sign your digital lease agreements, these tools can be extremely cost-efficient for you down the road. You’ll be able to cut down on your use of paper, ink cartridges and other miscellaneous supplies that can add up quickly.
You’ll also see the time you spend dealing with leases reduce dramatically. Time is money, after all, so this can represent a significant savings opportunity. No longer will you have to coordinate in-person meetings with tenants to get their signatures. Tenants can sign on their own time, and most platforms provide you the opportunity to send reminders when necessary. Tenants who request a new copy of the lease won’t need to reach out to you anymore. The document is accessible remotely, so you don’t need to print and share additional copies with them. Remote accessibility also spares you from answering questions about the lease that tenants can pull up themselves.
The Bottom Line: Online Leases Are Worth A Shot
Changing how you do things can be tough, but often, it’s the best way to move your business forward.
Changing how you do things can be tough, but often, it’s the best way to move your business forward. Investing a little bit of time in learning to use lease signing software and setting it up for your custom needs can save an exponential amount of time in the long run. If that prospect feels daunting, check out some of our other articles on lease signing, or reach out to us directly. We’re happy to talk you through any changes that you’re considering.
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