Tenant is out of state and we need to get lease signed. Help.

8 Replies

I have a tenant who is relocating to my area who is interested in renting my house.  I have met them and ran credit and background checks and all is good.   Trying to determine what options are available/legal for them to sign the lease agreement as they are not planning on returning to the area until the day of move in.   I was thinking of signing my portions in front of a notary, mailing it to them and having them sign in front of a notary as well and then having them return the document to me via track-able mail.   They are willing to do what ever is necessary, but I want to make sure it is being done legally for CYA purposes.  Any suggestions or comments are appreciated.  


I would think that the notary idea would be more than fine. I would email it to them to print and have signed in front of notary then mail back to you.  Maybe I am just funny but I like for the tenants to sign everything before I sign.  If that works for a real estate closing, I assume it is good enough for a lease. 

Certainly there may be some legal element that I'm lot aware of, but I often email them a copy, have them sign it and mail it back. I do agree @Richard Henry , best to let them sign it first. Then when you get it back you can confirm that there have been no alterations before signing it yourself. 

@Kevin McDonald When I have an out-of-town tenant wanting to sign a lease, I have them do electronic signatures on a pdf lease I send via email (and the I sign it electronically afterward and email them the completed agreement). I've always felt pretty comfortable with that. The notary idea would be the most rigorous method, but I don't think it's necessary, and it will take at least a week round-trip via snail mail. But ultimately it is what will give you the most peace of mind as the landlord. 

Hi Kevin,

There are websites you can use to collect electronic signatures- my realtor uses Docusign and there are a few more- I think I am going to try HelloSign next time I run into this issue.

Or just e mail them a pdf and have them print, sign, scan and e mail back.  You then print, sign, scan, and e mail to them so you both have a copy.  The above posters are right- they need to sign first.  When I renew leases, I typically just leave a copy for the tenant to sign, and one time I signed first then was all stressed when they didn't sign right away.  If they didn't sign, then I found  a new tenant and signed a lease with them while the other signed lease was still out there it could have been a problem...


@Kevin McDonald We use Dotloop, which has a free option for you to use. It's a digital signature program, that allows tracking and open notifications.

You can easily add initials, signatures, and additional text onto the lease, and then send to your tenants.

We use it for all of our out of state signatures, and also many in state as well, since it's much more convenient then meeting in person.

Some of those e-signature sites, like docusign, offer free use if you are only doing a document or two. They start charging a subscription if you are using them as a regular part of your business. It's an easy way and convenient way to get remote signatures done. 

That said, easy/convenient isn't always better; signing a tenant you've not met can sometimes be a bit dodgy. So making them go through the hoops of signing physically in front of a notary and returning a paper document along with funds might not be a bad idea, as it would indicate a real commitment to following through.