Must AST Agreement signatures be witnessed?

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    Must AST Agreement signatures be witnessed?

    Can somebody tell me about the signing of the AST agreement. Does the witness to signatures have to be present when LL and T are signing, does the witness have to be a different one for LL signature and T signature. My plan is to meet Ts at property to sign AST and inventory etc and handover keys but not sure about the witness. Can I send copy of AST to tenants beforehand and we both turn up with signed and witnessed ASTs of our own.
    Want to do it legally but not sure whats what, Thanks to anyone who can advise

    #2
    An AST need not even be written (although you know what they say about oral agreements!)
    So non-witnessing or non-signature is not 'fatal' to the Agreement's validity- as long as there's evidence that L and T implemented it.
    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
      You have the official legal opinion above this, however many landlords get tenancy agreements witnessed as it makes the agreement more "formal" and gives the right impression. Technically, I believe, different witnesses can be used for each signature as they nerely have to attest that they witnessed the person concerned signing the document the contents of which they need not be aware of.

      P.P.
      Any information given in this post is based on my personal experience as a landlord, what I have learned from this and other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person.

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        #4
        The witnessing of a signature makes no difference for an AST that is not created by Deed so I don't feel it makes it any more 'formal'. It's something that is really unnecessary.
        The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Paul_f View Post
          The witnessing of a signature makes no difference for an AST that is not created by Deed so I don't feel it makes it any more 'formal'. It's something that is really unnecessary.
          I think PPs meaning is that it 'seems' more formal to the tenant - ie instills a sense of importance in the document so far as the tenant is concerned.

          Comment


            #6
            Where a document does not require witnessing I suppose it has to follow that there cannot be any rules, or at least if there are rules it cannot matter if they are not followed. However, a document can hardly be said to be witnessed if the witness is not present when the document is signed, unless perhaps the signatory acknowledges his signature in the presence of the witness.

            In the case of a deed the signatory must sign in the presence of the witness:

            An instrument is validly executed as a deed by an individual if, and only if—
            (a) it is signed—
            (i) by him in the presence of a witness who attests the signature


            [Section 2 (3) of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989]

            Although not strictly required, the generally accepted practice in the witnessing of deeds and which should be applied to the witnessing of all documents is as follows:

            The witness should be competent, i.e. of full age and mentally sound. He should also be independent; that excludes as witnesses spouses, relatives and anyone with an interest in the transaction. Landlords should not witness the signature of a tenant and vice versa. Ideally, agents and their employees should not witness a tenant's signature; when it comes to tenancy agreements for terms of three years or less this is not really a practical problem as they do not need to be witnessed, but, for reasons unconnected with strict formal validity, guarantees really do need to be witnessed by someone who has no connection with the transaction.

            As to the number of copies to be signed and who signs which, practice depends on the transaction. In the case of a document agreeing or creating a tenancy the practice adopted by lawyers is that each party signs a copy and the copies are exchanged.

            (For the record, special rules apply to the witnessing of wills.)

            Comment


              #7
              Your Highland correspondent writes...

              Just done a SAT (Short Assured Tenancy) in Scotland: The practice is for signatures of LL & T's to be witnessed, and all the pro-formas I've seen have witness boxes. Not sure if it's a legal requirement ...my knowledge of Scots law is even less than my limited knowledge of English Law.... Will ask when I get my mandatory training to maintain Scottish LL accreditation..

              Just read the lawcruncher's post..

              The witness should be competent, i.e. of full age and mentally sound.
              As he is an elderly Ex-Indian Army Cavalry officer, "eccentric", Highland Stock, with shrapnel still in his head I'm now wondering about competency. Lovely man, amazing stories....

              Agree with snorkerz...
              - ie instills a sense of importance in the document so far as the tenant is concerned.

              Re
              [Section 2 (3) of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989]
              Surely S1(3)??
              http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1989...0034_en_1#l1g1

              Rgds: Back doon sooth September...
              I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post
                Surely S1(3)??
                Indeed it is.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                  Although not strictly required, the generally accepted practice in the witnessing of deeds and which should be applied to the witnessing of all documents is as follows:
                  I've been a witness for numerous documents over the years, and have asked numerous people to serve as witness for documents of my own. Once in a while, people have asked me along the lines of 'um - what am I committing myself to by witnessing this' and to be honest I'm not sure how to answer it!

                  Are there circumstances where a witness might be called upon to attend court to attest to having witnessed a signing, or something?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post



                    As he is an elderly Ex-Indian Army Cavalry officer, "eccentric", Highland Stock, with shrapnel still in his head I'm now wondering about competency. Lovely man, amazing stories....
                    He sounds perfect. I always try to get hold of an Ex-Indian Army Calvry officer with shrapnel still in his head when I want a witness for anything. Doesn't everyone?
                    '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

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Ericthelobster View Post
                      Are there circumstances where a witness might be called upon to attend court to attest to having witnessed a signing, or something?
                      I have never heard of a case that did not involve wills. It could be the case that a witness would be called if the person alleged to have signed says it was not him who signed.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                        I have never heard of a case that did not involve wills. It could be the case that a witness would be called if the person alleged to have signed says it was not him who signed.
                        OK. But in the case of a will, wouldn't said person normally have shuffled off this mortal coil by the time that became an issue?!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Ericthelobster View Post
                          OK. But in the case of a will, wouldn't said person normally have shuffled off this mortal coil by the time that became an issue?!
                          Yes, but then he is not around to ask if he did sign the will.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                            Yes, but then he is not around to ask if he did sign the will.
                            That's precisely why a Will must be witnessed- not just by one person but by two, who are therefore competent and compellable witnesses.
                            And the same is, I feel, true of anyone who formally witnesses any documentation.
                            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).

                            Comment

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