Does AST need to be in writing and witnessed?

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  • Does AST need to be in writing and witnessed?

    Hi there guys,

    I've applied for a loan and as proof of income they asked for my AST agreement on the flat I let out.

    Apparently the loan hinges on this extra income being validated and having spoken with them they are saying that they cannot accept my AST as it is not countersigned/on headed paper from a solicitor and there are not witnessed signatures from my tenants "this could just be a few pieces of paper that you printed out". They're also a bit cagey about the flat not being let out through an agent - despite me telling them all they do is charge extra money which would make the loan less affordable!

    A bit annoying really because as I understand it, witnesses are not required for ASTs <3 years and also the standard AST I have used is a legally binding document regardless of whether a solicitor was used or not. My tenants are professionals, fully referenced and have paid their rent on time for the last 6 months.

    I want to write back to them to back up that 1) the AST does not need to be witnessed 2) that my standard AST is a legally binding contract regardless of there not being a solicitor used.

    Does anyone know of any good sources to quote?

    Any help very greatly appreciated!!!

  • #2
    An AST need not even be in writing. Only a letting for > 3yrs. has to be. So it clearly is capable of validity even if unwitnessed.
    See the Law of Property Act 1925: esp. sections 52(2)(d), 53(1)(a), 54(2), and 55(c and d).
    Here's the Act: http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/legResu...=1&SortAlpha=0
    JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
    1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
    2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
    3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
    4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

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    • #3
      Originally posted by packeted View Post
      Hi there guys,

      I've applied for a loan and as proof of income they asked for my AST agreement on the flat I let out.

      Apparently the loan hinges on this extra income being validated and having spoken with them they are saying that they cannot accept my AST as it is not countersigned/on headed paper from a solicitor and there are not witnessed signatures from my tenants "this could just be a few pieces of paper that you printed out". They're also a bit cagey about the flat not being let out through an agent - despite me telling them all they do is charge extra money which would make the loan less affordable!

      A bit annoying really because as I understand it, witnesses are not required for ASTs <3 years and also the standard AST I have used is a legally binding document regardless of whether a solicitor was used or not. My tenants are professionals, fully referenced and have paid their rent on time for the last 6 months.

      I want to write back to them to back up that 1) the AST does not need to be witnessed 2) that my standard AST is a legally binding contract regardless of there not being a solicitor used.

      Does anyone know of any good sources to quote?

      Any help very greatly appreciated!!!
      Could you not get something signed from your bank to verify that your tenants have paid their rent into your account for x months on y day of the month?
      'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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      • #4
        There is a technical legal word that describes what the lender is saying: Tosh.

        If it were the case that almost every tenancy agreement were on solicitor's headed paper and/or witnessed there might be some justification for the view. You could produce an agreement that satisfies their requirements sewn up with pink tape and witnessed by the attorney general, but that would be no guarantee that the tenancy still existed.

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        • #5
          This reminds me of the thread involving an overseas student applying for housing subsidy in his/her home country, Morocco. Moroccan authorities wouldn't accept the AST tenancy agreement as proof, as it wasn't covered in lots of stamps and red wax seals and ribbons.

          The trouble is the loan company may fail to be convinced by any legal argument that the contract is valid, needs no witnesses, etc, and you can't compel them to be convinced. Try to find out what else might satisfy the computer, perhaps a letter from a solicitor confirming that the document is a valid document?

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          • #6
            Thanks for your replies...

            It's infuriating stuff! Any solicitors on here who would be willing to certify my AST? (It's a standard document from Netlawman)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by westminster View Post
              The trouble is the loan company may fail to be convinced by any legal argument that the contract is valid, needs no witnesses, etc, and you can't compel them to be convinced.
              Yes; however unreasonable it may appear to you now, thinking about it from the lender's point of view, what proof is there that the tenancy does exist?
              Try to find out what else might satisfy the computer, perhaps a letter from a solicitor confirming that the document is a valid document?
              How about providing: X months'-worth of bank statements showing regular credits in the name of the tenant; plus a copy of some form of proof of ownership of the relevant property (mortgage statement? Land Registry entry?); council tax statement borrowed from the tenant proving they are living there? Hard to see how that little lot could be anything other than a 'real' tenancy.

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              • #8
                Thanks again for the replies. I have got my tenant references, a statement of payments from the bank which I will send to them. They are however asking that a solicitor "certifies" my AST is a binding contract.

                Does anyone have any suggestions on who I could go to for this? Obviously it has to be relatively cost effective to make it worth while...

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by packeted View Post
                  Thanks again for the replies. I have got my tenant references, a statement of payments from the bank which I will send to them. They are however asking that a solicitor "certifies" my AST is a binding contract.

                  Does anyone have any suggestions on who I could go to for this? Obviously it has to be relatively cost effective to make it worth while...
                  I would guess your local 'high street' solicitor would put a rubber stamp and signature on it for £10 - £20. The fee for doing the same to a DPS "single claim" is a fiver.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Snorkerz View Post
                    I would guess your local 'high street' solicitor would put a rubber stamp and signature on it for £10 - £20. The fee for doing the same to a DPS "single claim" is a fiver.
                    Not quite the same thing... the 'Single Claim' thing just requires a statutory fee chargeable by a Commissioner for Oaths, and all they are doing is witnessing you signing a document and probably swearing an oath; there's no legal expertise required as such.

                    If you're asking them to study a legal document and confirm it's OK, then that's a whole different ball game.

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                    • #11
                      Can someone please help me??

                      I have an assured shorthold tenancy until May 2010.

                      I have signed and scanned the tenancy to the L I do not have a copy with his signature on.

                      Is it a leagal agreement?

                      He wants to sell the house, in tenancy it says i have to give 2 months notice to leave.

                      Is this right?

                      I want to leave as i have 2 children and need time to find a new place but dont want to turn down a suitable place because i have to give 2 months notice.

                      Do i have to pay rent up until the end of my tenancy?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by zeebeez_6 View Post
                        I have an assured shorthold tenancy until May 2010.

                        I have signed and scanned the tenancy to the L I do not have a copy with his signature on.

                        Is it a leagal agreement?
                        Yes.

                        He wants to sell the house, in tenancy it says i have to give 2 months notice to leave.

                        Is this right?
                        Is there a break clause? I.e. does it say you can give notice to end the tenancy before the end of the fixed term in May?


                        Do i have to pay rent up until the end of my tenancy?
                        Yes, unless there is a break clause saying you can end the tenancy before May, as above, in which case you would have to pay rent up to the end of your notice.

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                        • #13
                          I read somewhere that the agreement had to be signed in ink, mine is but the one the L has will be printed from the computer and isnt in handwritten ink, grasping at straws but does this still make it legal?

                          Sorry, just upset as i have 2 children and am frightened we end up homeless as a result of him selling.

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                          • #14
                            Also if he sells the property before our tenancy is up do we have to move?

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                            • #15
                              You do not have to give two months' notice (unless there is a break clause and it is you who wants to end the tenancy early). In the absence of a break clause, you could stay until the last day of the tenancy if you wish, even if he does sell it.

                              He must give YOU two months' notice that he wants you to leave, however. As westminster says, if there is a break clause he may invoke this before May, but you would still get two months' notice.

                              If there is no break clause and you find a new home before May, it may be in your interests to talk to your LL about negotiating an early surrender of the tenancy so he can sell with vacant possession. He might even make it worth your while to do that.

                              You have an assured shorthold tenancy which does not even have to be written/printed, let alone signed in ink. Such an agreement can even be oral, so the one you have is legally binding (on you and on your LL).
                              'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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