If you’ve been managing your rental business for the past few years, you’re probably accustomed to remote work.
From tenant screening to virtual showings and Zoom meetings, many landlords’ daily responsibilities have proven possible to complete partially (if not completely) remotely.
Lease signing is one such task. As digital leases increase in popularity, you likely adapted to meet the need for remote negotiation. Since eSignatures were made legally viable in 2000, it is possible to compose, share, and sign digital leases entirely online.
If you don’t already use one, you might be familiar with property management software platforms and their various features for digital rental management. Online lease signing is a popular feature among users. The ease and flexibility of eSignatures remains one of the most compelling reasons to transition to digital management.
But what exactly is an eSignature?
Below is a brief overview of the origins, purpose, and benefits of eSignatures.
What’s an eSignature?
In 2000, the ESIGN act was passed as federal law. This act recognizes electronic signatures as legally equivalent to traditional ones if all parties involved choose to use electronic documents.
eSignatures come in a few types. “eSignature” or “electronic signature” are umbrella terms for any signature created and transmitted online.
For instance, you may have signed a document with your mouse on an electronic payment portal. Similarly, maybe you’ve used an electronic pencil on a tablet or iPad to sign at a restaurant or café. There are also automatically generated signatures and typed signatures. All of these are examples of eSignatures.
Property management software platforms integrate with eSignature services to allow you and your tenants to sign leases digitally. You may have seen integrations with DocuSign, HelloSign, or sign Now.
The term “digital signature” refers specifically to eSignatures with additional security features. Digital signatures come with tracking, encryption, and other verifications of authenticity. For instance, a digital signature may record the signer’s email address, IP address (physical location), and timestamp to authenticate the signature.
eSignatures are used widely across various industries, while digital signatures are particularly suitable for tax documents, legal contracts, insurance, healthcare contexts, and other professional settings.
Purpose of eSignatures
If you’re accustomed to traditional pen-and-paper signatures, you may wonder why digital ones are even necessary. Why fix something that isn’t broken?
As it turns out, eSignatures solve problems that were neglected before the ESIGN act and issues that have recently grown out of advancements in technology and business management.
An example of a previously neglected problem is the security of traditional signatures. So-called “wet” signatures retain no information about the signer’s identity and are easily forged. Signed paper documents can also be misplaced, stolen, or destroyed if not stored in a safe place. Before eSignatures, landlords simply accepted these vulnerabilities.
eSignatures also meet the emergent needs of technology and society. Due to pandemic restrictions, lockdowns, and work-from-home positions in the past few years, digital signatures have become not only convenient but obligatory. If your rental business can’t adapt to the volatile nature of 21st century events and trends, you’re likely to fall behind your competitors.
Benefits of eSignatures
Now that you know the origins and purpose of eSignatures, it’s easy to see why they are an indispensable tool for landlords. Here are some other benefits of eSignatures.
eSignatures are environmentally friendly. Think about the thousands of sheets of paper you use to print applications, leases, and other documents. Printing all these pages quickly makes a dent in your budget and the environment.
One way to reduce your rental business’s carbon footprint and care for your community is to go paperless with digital documents and eSignatures.
As mentioned, digital signatures are far more secure than traditional ones. A legally binding rental agreement is a contract requiring the maximum level of security. eSignatures help you verify signers’ identities, authenticate signatures, and track down any inconsistencies.
eSignatures are much more convenient than traditional signatures. With eSignatures, you and your tenants can sign documents instantaneously, no matter if you’re out of town, on your smart device, or at home.
Finally, electronic signatures make rental agreements much more accessible for your tenants. For instance, a renter with a visual impairment might not be able to access or read a paper document. Digital documents allow tenants who use screen readers or other accessibility tools to sign documents and ultimately feel more welcomed by your rental business.
eSignatures: A Digital Management Essential
Whether you’ve been using eSignatures since 2000, recently discovered them, or have never used them, there are numerous benefits for making the transition. Sustainability, security, convenience, and accessibility make eSignatures a must for any landlord looking to excel in a digital rental marketplace.