It’s no secret that many daily routines and work hours have been disrupted as a result of the shift to remote employment. Many industries, including real estate and property management, have embraced change and are finding better ways to connect with stakeholders and serve clients. One major change affecting affordable housing providers came via this 2020 notice released by HUD. In it, the federal government authorizes use of electronic signatures in place of “wet” (i.e., ink) signatures to execute documents for many of its housing subsidy programs. These esignatures simplify HUD compliance for renters and affordable property managers alike.
Examples of affected programs include:
- Project-based Section 8
- Rent Supplement
- Rental Assistance Demonstration Project-based Rental Assistance (RAD/PBRA)
- Section 202 Project Rental Assistance Contract (PRAC)
- Section 202 Senior Preservation Rental Assistance Contracts (SPRAC)
- Section 202/162 Project Assistance Contract (PAC)
- Section 221(d)(3)/(d)(5) Below-Market Interest Rate (BMIR)
- Section 236 (including RAP)
- Section 811 PRAC and Project Rental Assistance (PRA)
Why are esignatures a game changer for subsidized housing?
Esignatures simplify HUD compliance as digital versions of traditional handwritten signatures. They let applicants sign documents from any computer, tablet or smartphone, making it easier for affordable property managers to collect signatures on documents related to federal housing programs.
Time and money saver
Eliminating the ink signature requirement saves affordable housing providers considerable time and effort. Rather than dealing with paperwork, these organizations can now set up digital workflows that reduce paper usage and storage costs. These streamlined workflows give back significant staff hours and create more time to serve residents.
Esignatures simplify HUD compliance because they are more convenient for applicants and residents. Applicants can sign documents when they have a free moment instead of taking time off to visit an office.
Audits are fast, easy and secure with the use of esignatures. Because workflows are paperless, auditors can monitor files without having to come into an office. Instead, they can access files from a remote workstation to complete every step of the audit process.
What are HUD’s requirements?
As expected, there are rules and requirements associated with this change of procedure. For example, HUD requires that subsidized housing operators give the option for traditional wet signatures upon request.
HUD also requires that esignature procedures comply with existing electronic transaction laws such as the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-SIGN) and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA). These laws dictate that as long as esignatures meet specific standards, they are just as valid and enforceable as wet signatures.
To qualify as a valid esignature, the following five requirements must be met:
- Electronic form of signature
- Intent to sign
- Association of signature to the record
- Identification and authentication of the signer
- Integrity of the signed record
More information on those requirements and Yardi’s ability to meet them can be found in Yardi’s Features & Benefits of Electronic Signatures Guide.
RentCafe Affordable Housing
HUD’s approval of esignatures makes RentCafe even more beneficial. Now, even more industry partners and renters can take advantage of technology that facilitates paperless workflows. RentCafe Affordable Housing offer online portals for applicants and residents. Using those portals, users can apply for housing, provide documentation to qualify for a unit, pay rent, complete the annual certification of eligibility and more.
Want a demonstration of how it all works within Yardi Breeze Premier? Subsidized housing providers can call (800) 866-1144 to set up a demo of RentCafe Affordable Housing.
Summary: how esignatures simplify HUD compliance
Fast signature collection
Esignatures allow documents to be signed electronically, which means they can be completed and returned much faster than if they had to be physically signed and mailed back.
Esignatures can be completed from anywhere at any time. This is especially helpful for people who may not have easy access to a physical copy of the document or who are not in the same location as the organization requesting the signature.
Overall, esignatures simplify HUD compliance by streamlining the process of obtaining signatures. This is beneficial for both the person signing the document and the organization receiving it.