REINSW is often alerted to new products on the market that appear to make an agent’s job easier. However, many of these products often achieve the opposite.
There are apps in the market today that allow agents to send residential tenancy agreements to be signed by the tenant and witness electronically.
However, Clause 5 of the Electronic Transactions Regulation 2017 (NSW) excludes electronic signatures for documents that require a signature to be witnessed.
“It is important that agents are aware of efficiencies and additional services they can deliver to their clients,” says Tim McKibbin, REINSW CEO.
“However, technology is moving faster than legislation, which means by using these apps, agents are in breach of legislation – often without even realising it.
“Importantly, Government has recently announced legislative reforms are on the way to enable witnessing of documents electronically. This is a giant step forward for the industry.”
Many agents have also raised concerns that these apps reduce the opportunity for client connection.
“While I can see the upside to software that makes the leasing process simpler, I think it’s important for the tenant to come in to the office to sign the lease,” says Sandy Hodgkins, general manager of NNW Property.
“It starts the relationship between the property manager and tenant. It gives the property manager the opportunity to explain the terms of the lease and answer any questions. It is also important to confirm the leaseholder is the person signing the document.”
For as long as residential tenancy agreements require witnessing – or until the Act is amended to allow signatures to be witnessed electronically – these apps present issues for the real estate industry.
While many technological advances are beneficial to the industry (think e-conveyancing and social media), agents must know their responsibilities and always act in accordance with existing legislation.
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