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FL: digital electronic lease question

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Latest post Tue, Jul 5 2016 8:28 AM by ca19lawyer2. 7 replies.
  • Sun, Jul 3 2016 7:21 AM

    FL: digital electronic lease question

    State: FL

    I am a favorable tenant because I have excellent credit & rental history & adequate inc to cover the rent

    Facts:

    1. I applied to rent a 1BR apt w/ a large property management company this month (next week to start).

    2. They have my app & admin fee of $200 (non-refundable).

    Issue:

    1. Upon approval of my application to rent, I rec'd an email outlining some disclaimers that were not discussed nor addressed when I inquired about what I needed to know prior to applying.

    a) There is a concessions addendum later in the lease which states the discount you receive each month.

    * * I don't know what that means. If they rented the apt to me at a "discount" and that means the rent is actually much higher, why didn't they tell me. Why the need for a "concessions addendum" and what does that mean legally for me?

    b) There is a buyout Addendum in case I have to cancel the contract. All parties must agree on the same option, initial and sign. This is a time-sensitive document so please read and sign within 72 hours.

    * * * This is if I need to break the lease and pay a lease break penalty. But what is that?

    * * * If you give 60-days move out notice, what do I pay?

    * * * If I give less than 60-days notice (which I wouldn't) then what liability does that impose on me?

    c) Sign the lease electronically, but you have to agree first to conduct this transaction electronically with us. 

    * * *  I looked at their Blue Moon proprietary vendor e-file front page. It will not allow me to look at each item of the lease prior to agreeing to conduct all matters w/ the property management company electronically.

    d) I live 1200 miles away & will relo for a new job. I need a papercopy because I now have questions about the disclaimers above that were not discussed with me. (ex. The transfer clause for breaking the lease).

    e) I want the paper copy & they will not over night it to me to read ahead of time (I can pay the cost) or email it to me so I can overnight it back to them with my signatures and cashiers check.

    f) Their Blue Moon proprietary system states, "If you desire a paper copy in lieu of electronic, please notify the property manager in writing." 

    * I did this and they ignored my request.

    g) I have to supply cashiers checks which I need to have prepared by my Credit Union which is not located in FL, but is in my current state of residency. I told the leasing staff I'm coming from out of State. They knew this b/c they had to verify my rental history with my current landlord.

    h)  I want to read the lease & understand the terms before I get the cashiers checks.

    j) Lease was to start 7/8, I start a new job in Mid-July, and this is a holiday week and Tues 7/5 is the only day to get this done since I will be on the road Wed 7/6.

    I feel like I want to say, "Please give me my $200 back b/c the disclaimers were never disclosed to me until after my application was approved and you won't provide me with a paper copy of the lease for me to read in advance and ask questions for clarification. Due to the lack of transparency this won't work for me."

    A lease is a legal document. If I sign, i am agreeing to ALL the terms which I don't know because I can't read the paper copy.

    I wanted to have an attorney look it over with me and I told them that. But they refuse to give me a paper copy.

    Question:

    Can I call my credit card company and put a hold on the $200 for the administrative fee since the property refuses to let me read the lease in paper format and present my qusetions to them BEFORE signing it. They also imposed provisions about the terms of the lease without informing me up front.

    They never told me about the 72 hour rule and forced electronic only means when the proprietary system discloses that I can ask the prop mgt co. to furnish me with one.

    Can I get the $200 fee back and resubmit it based on negotiating the lease on paper?

    It is very important to READ before you SIGN.

    Thank you for any tips and suggestions you may have regarding this

     

     

     

     

  • Sun, Jul 3 2016 9:21 AM In reply to

    Re: FL: digital electronic lease question

    Sorry, you are asking for specific legal advice which no one on here can give.  Print out what they have sent you and seek the assistance of local counsel.

  • Sun, Jul 3 2016 9:45 AM In reply to

    Re: FL: digital electronic lease question

    Your post is a bit confusing.  I'll try to address the electronic communication issue first:

    Did I understand correctly that you have not yet agreed to "conduct all matters w/ the property management company electronically"?  Is your reluctance to agree to that based solely on your desire to view the entire lease before signing it, or are there other reasons?

    Agreeing to that is not the same as signing the lease - all you are agreeing to is how you and the property manager will communicate.  If you agree to it and then they fail to show you the entire lease before you have to sign it, or there is a dealbreaking lease provision, you can still refuse to sign the lease (though I suspect it's too late now to get your application fee back without violating the terms of the application you signed).

    That said, whether it is safe for you to agree to electronic-only communication depends on the details.  There should be safeguards against miscommunication (where one party says they notified the other party of something, but the other party claims not to have received that notice).  As part of that you should, of course, have reliable ongoing access to the internet and to whatever specific platform the property manager will use to communicate with you.

    When the Blue Moon site asked you to agree to the electronic communication, did it show you a link to the fine print governing that (such as a "Terms & Conditions" document)?  If so, I recommend you click on that and read it, and save a copy to your device as well.  If not, you'd have to get in touch with Blue Moon to find out how to access that.

  • Sun, Jul 3 2016 10:36 AM In reply to

    Re: FL: digital electronic lease question

    About the other questions:

    I_Love_Fitness:
    a) There is a concessions addendum later in the lease which states the discount you receive each month.

    A lot of apartment complexes advertise special concessions at various times, including things like "sign now and get your first month free," or "sign now and get 10% off your first six months' rent."  Any concessions amendment to their standard lease would normally be intended to carry out those promises to the tenants who meet the requirements.  If you are not already aware of any such concession being available to you, you'll just have to read the actual amendment to find out whether it's acceptable or not.

    I_Love_Fitness:
    b) There is a buyout Addendum in case I have to cancel the contract. All parties must agree on the same option, initial and sign. This is a time-sensitive document so please read and sign within 72 hours.

    Can I assume the first sentence is yours and the second and third sentences are verbatim quotes from the email they sent you?  Did the email show what the options are?  Did it show whether this property manager had already picked an option?  If the answer to both questions is no, then again, you'll have to be on the lookout for this whenever you do see the actual proposed lease terms.

    Here is a link to Florida Statute section 83.595.  Pay attention to option (3).  That's how bad it can be in Florida if the lease doesn't say anything about early termination by the tenant, so it's good if this landlord is giving you better choices on your lease.  You may have no intention whatsoever of breaking your lease, but please believe me, life sometimes does throw monkey wrenches into all your plans.  What would you do if, one month after you move in on a one-year lease, you lost your job?  What if you got a great job offer somewhere else?

    I_Love_Fitness:
    They have my app & admin fee of $200 (non-refundable).

    A lot of states limit how much landlords can charge in application fees, but according to this, Florida isn't one of them.  I guess you just have to be glad you found one that "only" charged $200.  Grrr.

  • Sun, Jul 3 2016 1:54 PM In reply to

    Re: FL: digital electronic lease question

    karen2222:
    If you are not already aware of any such concession being available to you, you'll just have to read the actual amendment to find out whether it's acceptable or not.
    .

    Correct. I am unaware of any consession as this was not mentioned to me.

    karen2222:
    Can I assume the first sentence is yours and the second and third sentences are verbatim quotes from the email they sent you?  Did the email show what the options are?  Did it show whether this property manager had already picked an option?  If the answer to both questions is no, then again, you'll have to be on the lookout for this whenever you do see the actual proposed lease terms.
    .

    The 1st sentane was mine and the 2nd & 3rd sentances are verbatim quotes from the email they sent me. They said the options are: (and they don't make sense to me)

    1) in the event you need to terminate your lease prior to the expiry date without being able to give a 60 days notice, you agree to pay one and a half months rent as a penalty

    * * I interpret this to mean, without giving 60-days advanced notice, I agree to pay 1.5 months rent as penalty

    2) in the event you need to terminate your lease prior to the expiry date workout being able to give a 60 days notice, you agree to pay the rent until we are able to re-lease your apartment home.

    * * I interpret this to mean, If I DO give 60-days notice, I still have to pay all the rent until they're able to re-lease the apartment.   * * This sentance is confusing.

    These are the conflicting issues I have. And I am adamant on wanting a paper copy of the lease to read, highlight and present my questions. The online system won't permit me to read the lease unless I agree to the terms of e-signing. And I don't. It also states that if "you want the paper copy sent to you FedEx, to contact the property manager."

    I'm out of State, 1200 miles away. They should've explained this to me. I'll be on the road Wed morning driving for 3-days to arrive there. I wanted to review the lease before I arrived at the office with my Cashier's checks.

    Those checks have to be certified cashiers checks that I have to get at my LOCAL credit union.

    Thank you for providing the FL statute. I kept that link. That is SO helpful.

    I'm having reservations due to their lack of communication with me over the phone. Some people are of the mindset to have the customer "sign quick on the line." I'm not one of those. In my work life, I strive to give the best customer service in all aspects of any job that I do. And I expect the same. Especially with this large corporate residential apartment community.

    Again, thank you for being so kind in reading my post and for sharing some helpful insights.

    I will contact them on Tues first thing in the morning and post back the outcome.

     

  • Sun, Jul 3 2016 2:33 PM In reply to

    Re: FL: digital electronic lease question

    karen2222:
    Did I understand correctly that you have not yet agreed to "conduct all matters w/ the property management company electronically"?  Is your reluctance to agree to that based solely on your desire to view the entire lease before signing it, or are there other reasons?

    Agreeing to that is not the same as signing the lease - all you are agreeing to is how you and the property manager will communicate.  If you agree to it and then they fail to show you the entire lease before you have to sign it, or there is a dealbreaking lease provision, you can still refuse to sign the lease (though I suspect it's too late now to get your application fee back without violating the terms of the application you signed).

    That said, whether it is safe for you to agree to electronic-only communication depends on the details.  There should be safeguards against miscommunication (where one party says they notified the other party of something, but the other party claims not to have received that notice).  As part of that you should, of course, have reliable ongoing access to the internet and to whatever specific platform the property manager will use to communicate with you.

    When the Blue Moon site asked you to agree to the electronic communication, did it show you a link to the fine print governing that (such as a "Terms & Conditions" document)?  If so, I recommend you click on that and read it, and save a copy to your device as well.  If not, you'd have to get in touch with Blue Moon to find out how to access that.

    You are amazing, that is exactly the issue !!!!

    My reluctance to agree to e-signing is due to my desire to review the entire lease AND be able to ASK questions to get clarification. Digital is a cost savings and environmentally green; however the Mortgage Industries, some Insurance Co's and now property management places in FL are going in this direction.

    This increases the liklihood of miscommunications because no one is signing anything in front of the other.

    And there is NO chance in pointing to a paragraph and asking to clarify it.

    The leasing agent stated in her email, After one party completes the process, the next signing party will be notified to review and sign electronically until all electronic signatures have been collected. Once all electronic signatures are collected, you will receive notification containing a copy of the executed Lease Contract Documents.

    Here are the terms and conditions:

    Consumer Disclosure Regarding Conducting Business Electronically, Signing Documents Electronically and Receiving Electronic Notices and Disclosures

    By proceeding to use the NAA E-Signature System to sign this document you are agreeing that you have:
    •Read and understood the consumer disclosure information in this notice and consented to transact business using electronic communications;
    •Agreed to receive notices and disclosures electronically, such as the federal EPA Lead Hazard Addendum; and
    •Agreed to use electronic signatures and documents instead of ink signatures and paper documents.


    Your Choice: Paper or Electronic
    You are not required to sign documents or receive notices and disclosures electronically. If you prefer to use paper, do not proceed with the E-Signature process, but rather close your web browser and contact the property owner or owner's representative to request paper copies.

    Consent to Do Business and Receive Notices and Disclosures Electronically

    By proceeding with the E-Signature process, you consent to conduct business electronically, sign documents electronically, and receive notices and disclosures electronically. Your consent applies to all documents, disclosures, and notices relating to this transaction occurring over the course of your continued relationship with the Property Owner or Owner's Representative. But your consent to so conduct business or sign or receive documents, notices or disclosures is only effective to the extent permitted or provided by law and the NAA Lease Contracts, and you may withdraw your consent at any time by following the procedures described below in the section entitled "Withdrawal of Consent."

    There is no charge to receive one (1) set of paper documents delivered at the property or by US Mail to US addresses, however the property owner or their representative may at their discretion charge for the shipping costs for FEDEX or similar deliver services or delivery to foreign addresses

    I presented in written form a request to have the lease sent to me via FEDEX and I would pay for it.

    But they didn't give me time to do that. They approved my lease 7/1 via email and I immediately put my request back to them 7/2 early morning.

    Due to my having worked in compliance oriented industries, I have seen many problems with consumers who were mislead or uninformed by a seller (loan officer) or other agent due to the commissioned sales world.

    Consumers always need to be on the lookout by asking questions and reading all aspects of contracts.

    I just wanted that chance so that I could be responsible and know what I'm getting into. FL has high turnover and people are moving in and out daily. I want to preserve my credit, to maintain fiscal responsibility and have the freedom of a "transfer clause" in the event of an unforseen event (job loss, job transfer, illness, loss of income).

    I've already been there and experienced that. But I've always lived within my means.

    If they can't comply with sending me the lease by email (PDF) format, I will not sign it and have to look for a week to week Intown Extended Stay. I've researched that cost and it is actually less than the apartment. And all utilites incl WiFi are included. One $50 refundable deposit is paid at check in.

    Thank you so much Karen for sharing your helpful insight to my post. I've been stressed over this due to the prior job loss - having to look for a new job which took months - and then having to up and relocate 1200 miles away.

    I will post back after I contact the office on Tues morning. I will ask for a PDF copy of the lease so I can print it out, read it thoroughly and then FEDEX it back to them so they're get it by the time I arrive on Fri.

    That's my plan, but I'll post back. Thank you!

     

     

  • Mon, Jul 4 2016 11:02 AM In reply to

    Re: FL: digital electronic lease question

    I_Love_Fitness:
    you may withdraw your consent at any time by following the procedures described below in the section entitled "Withdrawal of Consent."

    That suggests an idea:  if the procedures in that "Withdrawal of Consent" section seem OK, you could consider agreeing to the electronic communication now, so that you can (hopefully) view your documents on the Blue Moon site.  You could then either decide they're fine and e-sign them (saving pdfs to your own device as you do so, using "CutePDF" or other similar printing freeware that you have downloaded onto your device), or be ready with your questions and change requests so they can start dealing with them Tuesday morning.

    Then, after the dust has settled and you are moved in, you can follow the procedures to withdraw your consent for future communications if you don't feel adequately protected from miscommunication.  Assuming your lease doesn't require you to consent to electronic communication - something to look for.

    One thing you could have done (too late now) was to ask to preview their lease terms before you signed the application.  Given that you had $200 at risk, it wouldn't have been an unreasonable request, and you are in your strongest bargaining position when you are about to do something that will make them money - in this case, submitting your application and the (overinflated) fee.  You are still in a much stronger bargaining position now compared to after you sign the lease, of course, though HOW strong is a function of how heavy the demand is for these apartments.

  • Tue, Jul 5 2016 8:28 AM In reply to

    Re: FL: digital electronic lease question

    Your post is unnecessarily long and detailed, so I skipped a lot of it.

     

    I_Love_Fitness:
    Can I call my credit card company and put a hold on the $200 for the administrative fee since the property refuses to let me read the lease in paper format and present my qusetions to them BEFORE signing it.

    CAN you?  Of course you CAN.  Did you think there might be some reason you lacked that ability?  If you're asking us to predict how your credit card company respond, we have no conceivable way of knowing.

     

    I_Love_Fitness:
    Can I get the $200 fee back and resubmit it based on negotiating the lease on paper?

    I'm not sure I understand this question, but you can't force this prospective landlord to provide you with a paper copy.  Why can't you simply print the lease yourself?

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