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Electronic Execution of Residential Tenancy Agreements
The process of signing residential tenancy agreements in the real estate industry has evolved significantly with the advent of technology. While traditional in-person signings have been the norm for many years, electronic signatures have gained popularity due to their convenience and efficiency – not to mention the past few years of Covid which has resulted in many processes being automated and online.
However, signing a tenancy agreement electronically can raise issues related to consent and understanding. Unlike physical signatures, electronic signatures can be easily applied with a single click, potentially leading to inadvertent agreement without fully comprehending the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement. This becomes an even greater risk when one of the parties does not have English as their first language and would benefit from aspect of the agreement being explained to them. This lack of personal interaction and review of the agreement may result in disputes or misunderstandings in the future of the tenancy.
Signing a tenancy agreement in person allows for face-to-face interaction, providing an opportunity to clarify any doubts, negotiate terms, and ensure that all parties fully understand the terms and conditions of the agreement. This direct communication fosters better engagement and may reduce the chances of misinterpretation or miscommunication.
So we now have a conundrum which has two options:
- Have the tenant/s physically come to your office and sign the residential tenancy agreement and provide you with the opportunity to explain and highlight specific points relating to their tenancy OR
- Forward the residential tenancy agreement to the tenant/s and have them sign through an online portal such as Docusign.
OR………is there actually a third option that is a hybrid.
Have you considered incorporating both methods? Whilst continuing to serve your tenancy agreements electronically, you can also use online communication platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeetings (just to name a few), which allow you as the managing agent to:
- firstly, extend a warm welcome to the tenant, and discuss how you will assist them throughout the tenancy,
- explain the terms of the tenancy agreement and ensure that the tenant understands their rights, responsibilities, and obligations,
- give the tenant an opportunity to ask questions, seek clarification, and address any concerns or discrepancies etc.
This hybrid method establishes a foundation of open communication and sets the tone for a positive landlord-tenant relationship, which is crucial for the overall satisfaction and well-being of both parties throughout the tenancy.
The aim here is to always start well, work smarter and end well.