Mobile app oversimplifies real estate rental contracts

Rent it Right

Learn the New Luxury Playbook at Luxury Connect | October 18-19 at the Beverly Hills Hotel

Q: I visited an apartment today and liked what I saw. The landlord asked me to sign up on the spot; he created a lease on his phone, walked me back to the office, and printed it. I'm all for creative online apps, but I'm wondering: Can this be legal? --Tom B. A: There's nothing illegal about creating a lease using an online app. The question is, will the document stand up to scrutiny? Without seeing the precise document that your landlord made, I couldn't say. But I was curious, so I went online to the you-know-what store, and found such an app. Then I gave it a try. I'll say this -- it sure is easy. But because the app is not designed for any particular state, gives no information that would enable a user to make the lease state-law compliant, and doesn't even warn the user to check his state laws before use, it's downright dangerous. For example, the user is asked to specify the security deposit. Just type it in! Many states limit the amount of deposit a landlord may col...