Mobile app oversimplifies real estate rental contracts

Rent it Right

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.