The resident lease is arguably among the most complex paper-based processes in the apartment leasing office. There are addenda and attachments, copies signed in duplicate, documents stapled or clipped into folders. Many will posit that it’s also one of the most valuable processes. A new lease is a successfully converted lead, and brings with it an impact to key areas by which a property’s success is measured, like occupancy and revenue. A signed renewal represents yet another happy tenant. There have been many stories of success within the industry where leasing offices have revived their in-office workflows with new online leasing options, freeing up their staff to focus their time on marketing and customer service instead of being wrapped up in piles of paperwork.
It’s because of the complexity and importance of the leasing process that the idea of adapting it for use online can seem difficult and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are the main reasons why a big change in your leasing paperwork before going paperless can actually be a good thing.
Reading is Fundamental
Preparing your lease documents for online conversion is an opportune time to review the lease documents in depth. If it’s been some time since the terms were last revised, read it carefully. Try to look at the documents from the viewpoint of a potential resident reviewing the documents online. Is the language understandable? Are the policies spelled out plainly? You may find that there are errors or omissions in the current lease version which need correction. Make sure that your terms are accurate and clear to avoid confusing your future residents when they review the lease.
What’s an addendum anyway?
To be specific, an addendum is “an item of additional material, typically omissions, added at the end of a book or other publication.” All of a lease’s addenda represent changes made after the initial lease terms were drafted. But when do those additions stop being… additions? Consider including renter’s insurance requirements, utility billing details, pet policies, and other information directly in the main lease agreement. When converting to electronic leasing, the documents use dynamic fields for fees and policy info that can change as your property does, making updates nearly automatic. Keep any addenda separate which apply to specific circumstances, like a certain rentable item, optional charge, or lease type. Changes like this can help to simplify your lease packages by reducing the number of potentially redundant addenda and simplify document and revision management for the long haul in turn.
From Application to Lease. And Renewal, too.
When preparing your lease documents for use online, consider this one main difference in the paperless process: the varied and dynamic ways in which you are now reaching your prospective and future tenants. Some will browse apartment websites from their laptops, others will apply from their phones, or prospects could be signing their leases online from their iPads. Consider an efficient online experience for the applicant, removing any documents which aren’t applicable to lease signing. Forms like inventory and condition checklists, resident information sheets, move in summaries, or renter’s insurance documents were initially included in lease packages out of necessity. The move-in appointment was the leasing agent’s sole opportunity to collect and distribute move-in information, and the documents were included alongside the lease for review and signing at this same time. In an electronic workflow, the traditional confines of the leasing office and its hours don’t apply. Your prospects can sign their lease from their home or office, many times days in advance of their move-in appointment. Leasing staff can generate and send additional electronic documents in preparation for move-in day, all of which can be reviewed and signed whenever and wherever it’s convenient. All that paperwork can be done — without the paper — before a resident even arrives to collect their keys.
This advantage doesn’t just apply to applicants. There is a substantial investment required in both time and resources to generate renewal offers for a property full of residents. Then there’s the time it takes to review, approve, and process all of those renewal offers. And then preparing, signing, and approving the renewal leases… the paperwork doesn’t let up once the resident moves in. It takes a lot of work to keep a property full, and a good online leasing process handles renewals with ease. You can eliminate the need to print and deliver renewal offers and instead provide them online, accessible to residents 24/7. Leasing agents can then review and approve renewals electronically in a matter of just a few clicks.
Change for the Better
Adopting a paperless leasing process should inspire some significant changes in a property’s lease documentation, all of which are aimed at increasing the efficiency of the leasing staff by eliminating paper-centric administrative tasks. Leasing agents who are free to engage with their market, their prospects, and their residents help foster a happy and successful community. Make the most of a streamlined and dynamic online leasing process by reviewing and updating lease documents, consolidating addenda, and optimizing online workflows.