Witnesses to tenancy agreements

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  • Witnesses to tenancy agreements

    Some of us posting here have stated previously that we prefer to have our tenancy agreements witnessed - largely to stress that they are a binding contract for the initial fixed term.

    Others have suggested that there is no need for witnesses if the Term is less than 3 years.

    According to the notes in latest tenancy AST from Lawpack the above simplistic "no witness" proviso is flawed.

    Here are the reasons:-

    The Agreement can be dated at any time after everyone has signed it. If the Agreement is signed and dated before the date on which the Term is to start, it is important that the signatures are properly witnessed
    There is no need for the signatures to be witnessed, so long as the Term is less than 3 years, the Tenant is paying full market rent (and no capital sum) and the Term starts immediately; if one or more of these does not apply, and/or the Landlord is a limited company, the signatures must be witnessed. If the Landlord is a limited company, then either two directors, or a director and the company secretary should sign on behalf of the company. If the Tenant is a limited company this Agreement is not appropriate.
    It seems to me Lawpack agreements and notes are extremely well considered and designed to help landlords avoid common pitfalls.

    IMHO they well deserve the endorsement they have been given by National Landlords Association.
    Vic - wicked landlord
    Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
    Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

  • #2
    Since a short letting (<3 yrs) can be oral with nothing in writing (except statement of terms, if T so demands), it follows that a written but unwitnessed Agreement is nonetheless valid- even if at less than market rent, or if L is limited co. Obviously, one would strongly recommend written/witnessed Agreement in top copy (signed by L, witnessed, handed over to T) and counterpart (signed by T, witnessed, handed over to L).
    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


    • #3
      Jeffrey just to clarify. Are you suggesting that if a written tenancy agreement is held to be invalid because it was unwitnessed then a tenancy would still exist but it would be restricted to protecting the basic rights of the tenant. If so we are in full agreement.

      Do we both agree that if a landlord wishes to have an effective written tenancy agreement then it is necessary to ensure the criteria, suggested by Lawpack, are properly met.
      Vic - wicked landlord
      Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
      Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Worldlife View Post
        Jeffrey just to clarify. Are you suggesting that if a written tenancy agreement is held to be invalid because it was unwitnessed then a tenancy would still exist but it would be restricted to protecting the basic rights of the tenant. If so we are in full agreement.

        Do we both agree that if a landlord wishes to have an effective written tenancy agreement then it is necessary to ensure the criteria, suggested by Lawpack, are properly met.
        Being unwitnessed could NOT (at least in my view) make written Agreement invalid.
        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


        • #5
          Presumably Lawpack and their solicitors and maybe barrister go through their documentation thoroughly. I'll stick with their recommendations to be on the safe side.
          Vic - wicked landlord
          Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
          Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Worldlife View Post
            Presumably Lawpack and their solicitors and maybe barrister go through their documentation thoroughly. I'll stick with their recommendations to be on the safe side.
            I agree. Lawpack wording seems OK and witnessed signatures are better than unwitnessed ones.
            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


            • #7
              Originally posted by jeffrey View Post
              Being unwitnessed could NOT (at least in my view) make written Agreement invalid.
              Originally posted by jeffrey
              I agree. Lawpack wording seems OK and witnessed signatures are better than unwitnessed ones.

              I've been following this thread with interest but am now am really confused! You're saying that an unwitnessed signature cannot invalidate a written (bog standard) tenancy agreement; yet you're saying witnessed signatures are better than unwitnessed... under what circumstances?

              I have given up the practice of getting my own signature witnessed (although I do have my tenants' witnessed, as I mentioned earlier) simply because it's a pain in the neck having to hassle friends or neighbours - how could I be shooting myself in the foot by doing this? I assume it would have to be somebody somewhere challenging the veracity of my signature and hence the agreement? I can't quite see it, but I'd certainly be grateful to know whether I should be revisiting my usual procedure.

              Comment


              • #8
                Again:
                1. AST can be oral and unwritten.
                2. Better: AST in writing, signed.
                3. Best: AST in writing, signed and witnessed. This minimises risk of T arguing that signature is that of someone else- witness is credible testimony in Court, so should be unrelated to (and unconnected with) parties to Agreement.
                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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