November 20, 2020

How Flatfox and VERIT are digitalising tenancy agreements with Skribble

Kira Leuthold
Kira Leuthold

Flatfox and VERIT are speeding up the leasing process for residential properties with the seamless digital handling of tenancy agreements. Find out here how the two real estate companies reached this goal together with Skribble, which features were most helpful, and the solution they use to verify signers’ identities.

Flatfox’s mission couldn’t be any clearer: the IT firm, which specialises in the Swiss real estate market, wants to speed up the process for first-time leases and lease renewals to make life easier for real estate professionals.

“Every day that a property remains vacant ends up costing money,” says Silvan Spross, Co-Founder of Flatfox. Finding tenants faster and reducing unoccupancy are therefore the most fundamental principles in real estate management.

Digital processes enhance the efficiency of the leasing process (source: Flatfox)

Flatfox is putting the pedal to the metal throughout the leasing process. “To speed up the process from the initial enquiry to the application and final signing of the lease,” is how Silvan Spross describes the approach.

The range of solutions include property listings on the company’s own free real estate marketplace, a walk-through planner and even an automated reference checking function.

The missing piece of the puzzle: e-signatures

There was just one big hurdle: Printed tenancy agreements. To collect legally valid signatures, they still had to take the usual circuitous route from the printer through the postal service. This was expensive, slowed down the final agreement process and created inefficiencies for all downstream processes such as archiving.

"The e-signature solution was the missing piece of the puzzle in our mission to offer a seamless digital leasing process – from posting the initial listing through to the signed agreement."

Silvan Spross, Co-Founder of Flatfox

Silvan Spross added, “We knew from the start that we would have to reach this milestone sooner or later.”

Skribble's e-signature solution has allowed Flatfox to manage first-time leases and renewal agreements completely digitally (source: Flatfox)

And it couldn’t be just any e-signature solution. Many providers made compromises either in the area of user-friendliness or security – sacrifices Flatfox was unwilling to make.

"We felt there was only one solution that could offer the highest standard of data protection and outstanding user-friendliness at the same time. In other words: Skribble."

Silvan Spross, Co-Founder of Flatfox

The features that won over Flatfox:

  • E-mail invite to sign
  • External parties do not need a Skribble account to sign
  • Simple API-based integration into existing systems

Skribble impressed Flatfox. Flatfox impressed its clients.

Silvan Spross, Co-Founder of Flatfox (source: Flatfox)

Just eight months after launching the project, the new e-signature feature was put to use for the first time: real estate manager and Flatfox client VERIT signed the first electronic lease with an applicant.

"What used to take days is now completed in a matter of minutes – even when three, four or more parties are signing."

Martin Frei, Chief Digital Officer, VERIT Immobilien AG

After signing electronically, tenants and landlords each receive their own digitally signed original copy of the document.

The features that won over VERIT:

  • Signing can be done from anywhere, with a desktop PC or smartphone
  • Tenant identification with a phone number from any Swiss mobile provider
  • Security and data protection practices that meet the highest hosting standards also used in Switzerland’s banking sector

Communication with prospective tenants is handled by Flatfox, including starting the e-tenancy agreement process. The handling of the process steps between systems as well as integration into the e-mail system, digital archive and ERP system all take place within VERIT’s infrastructure.

Skribble can be seamlessly integrated into existing processes and systems (source: Skribble)

In addition to signing tenancy agreements, in the future VERIT will also be using Skribble’s e-signature solution to handle other processes that require signatures. The development is already in full swing.

E-signature standard and identification:

  • Applicants: AES, identification with Swiss mobile phone number
  • VERIT staff: AES, identification with Skribble’s AES for Business service

Both the applicants and VERIT complete the signing process with the second highest e-signature standard: advanced electronic signature (AES).

"From a purely legal standpoint, the simple electronic signature (SES) standard would have also been an option. Tenancy agreements are not subject to formal requirements. Flatfox picked AES because it offers greater legal weight." 

Silvan Spross, Co-Founder of Flatfox

The AES process required to verify signers’ identities is handled for applicants automatically using the Swiss mobile phone numbers that the applicants provide during the signature process.

The managers and authorised signatories at VERIT identify themselves using a company e-mail address. This is made possible by Skribble’s AES for Business identification service. Companies can complete the verification process in just a few days and then allow all of their staff to e-sign with AES.

Martin Frei, Chief Digital Officer, VERIT (source: VERIT Immobilien AG)

About Flatfox

Flatfox is an IT firm specialised in the Swiss real estate market. In addition to its own real estate marketplace for listing parties and potential tenants, Flatfox also offers self-developed services and digital products for real estate managers and administrators. The company’s clients include VERIT, Helvetia Real Estate, PRIVERA AG and BVK.

About VERIT Immobilien AG, Zurich

“Passionate about real estate. Competent, independent and agile”
VERIT is a real estate firm whose employees possess extensive expertise and are passionate about the properties they manage. VERIT is a one-stop shop offering everything from management and leases to sales and renovation – and has been doing so for 60 years. Number of employees: 170 (as of 2020)

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