Do you review lease with prospective tenants prior to signing?

5 Replies

Is it necessary to meet (whether in-person or virtually) to review the lease with the future tenant, and then sign during that time, or should I simply send them the virtual lease to sign?  The units I manage are primarily rented to college students given the close proximity to campus, so I just wanted to provide that information in case it impacts the answer.  Historically I've met with the soon to be tenants and taken 30 or so minutes to walk through and sign the lease, but I'm starting to wonder if that's even necessary. Thanks.

I used to go through almost every clause with them. I did this for hundreds of renters every year, for almost ten years. What did I learn? The vast majority of them could care less. They plan to pay rent and take care of the place, they will report maintenance issues, and they expect me to treat them fairly and honestly. 

A small percentage reads every clause and asks tons of questions. This is usually because they've felt cheated in the past and they want to test me to see if I'm going to treat them fairly.

The remainder don't care, don't listen, will try to claim we told them rent wasn't due until the 5th (that's the day we charge late fees, but we always say rent is due on the 1st), and argue with us about everything no matter how many times we covered it and how well it's written.

I now send them the lease electronically for review and signature. I include a disclaimer clause on the cover page that basically says they are responsible for reading and ensuring they understand it. If they have questions, they are free to consult an attorney.

I've been doing that for almost two years and almost zero complaints. It's saved my staff 15 minutes or more per lease, which adds up when you sign 400 leases or renewals every year.

One suggestion: make a video that covers the most important aspects of the lease and renting from you. Post that online and share it with each new tenant. It accomplishes the same thing as an in-person review but without taking up all your time. Texas has a really good example, though it's too long and formal: 

I mirror Nathan's post. The lease is sent electronically for review and signature. It includes a disclaimer clause on the cover page and in the body of the email from our realtor that says they are responsible for reading and ensuring they understand it.  Also, I want everything in writing for peace of mind, so if they have questions they can always send a condensed email back and we can address them one by one and I can show proof that their concerns were addressed in a timely manner and set expectations.

Thanks for all of the advice - I think that all makes sense.  I'll go ahead and adopt a more hands-off approach then, however I'll likely still touch base with them beforehand to cover some of the major points since some of these college students are renting for the first time and may need some "coaching".