More calls to update residential tenancy legislation

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Moves by regulatory bodies to better recognise and legislate the use of electronic agreements and communication methods will benefit all parties involved in residential tenancy agreements according to those behind an electronic document preparation and distribution platform.

Designed specifically for the real estate industry, iAgree allows landlords, property managers, real estate agents and tenants to electronically prepare, distribute and sign customisable documents such as leases and management agreements.

Liana Slipetsky, iAgree co-founder, said the platform was developed to simplify the process involved with leasing and managing rental properties.

“We started with leases, but it went a bit beyond that. So at the moment it’s any document that requires a signature, so that could be things like tenancy agreements or management authorities. It’s a much more quick and easy way of doing things,” Slipetsky said.

“Say for a lease, the real estate agent prepares it and sends it out to the tenant, they would then sign it with the electronic signature generated within the program and it gets sent back to the agent. So there’s none of that sending out a hard copy of a PDF,” she said.

“It can really expedite the process, which is good if you’ve got a tough rental market. If you’ve got two or three people that need to come in and sign a lease, that can take a day or two, whereas iAgree allows you to send it out and have it back within the hour.”

The iAgree platform stores agreements online, eliminating the need for large amounts of physical paperwork and it also means individual agreements can be customised easily, while a two-step verification process adds a level of security to agreements. 

“There’s the flexibility in the documents to enter non-standard clauses, such as the property is furnished or has a swimming pool or garden that the tenant needs to agree to take care of,” Slipetsky said.

“But there’s also the ability to enter one-off clauses. You might have something like a fish-pond which the tenant has agreed to look after. That’s not something that’s going to apply to every tenancy agreement, but those types of things can be easily included in the lease.”

But while Slipetsky believes iAgree will be a positive for all involved in residential agreements, current legislation does throw up some hurdles for the widespread adoption of such programs

“Unfortunately legislation in Australia isn’t keeping up with technology. We’re finding a lot of the residential tenancy acts around Australia are lagging behind. They’re not specific; they’re silent on the matter (of electronic signatures).

“But having said that, that doesn’t mean that they invalidate contracts or documents that are signed electronically. We fall back on the Electronic Transaction act for that and we’re just in that transitional period with the legislation trying to keep up.

"There are just a lot of grey areas at the moment around electronic agreements and signatures. I know some states are reviewing their legislation and real estate institutes are calling for greater clarity and I applaud them on that. If we can clarify it all, we’re going to get a situation that is better for everybody.”

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