Is short-term rental agreement accepted on-line a valid agreement?

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Is short-term rental agreement accepted on-line a valid agreement?

I live in one state but I have a couple of rental properties in another. I rent them out to vacationers. Currently, I e-mail the short term rental agreement to my customers and ask they sign and fax the agreement back. But I have had quite a few cases where my customers have no access to a fax machine. What if I make a web site and ask my customers to basically check a check-box to accept the rental agreement and submit the agreement form on my website? Must like the “I agree to Terms and Conditions” below. Will such an agreement have the same legal effect and legal protection as fax?

Asked on October 2, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Although I think that it may be a great idea, I also think that this arrangement will be fraught with problems for you.  How are you going to verify that the person checking the box and using the computer is the person that is renting the place?  When most websites have yo check for verification they either have information in their system to verify it is their customer (like a bank and sophisticated software) or they use a verification service.  And contracts have to be executed "by the party to be charged" - the renter - in order to be valid.  Executed generally means signed in the case of a tenancy.  How are yo going to verify that?  Listen, there are Staples and other office places that have faxes and scanners that can help the potential tenants.  Or take a deposit and use the mail.  Good luck.


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