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Florida Makes Lease Closings Easier with New Signature Witness Laws

By: Stephanie M. Martin Posted on: Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

If you are a Florida tenant or landlord, executing a long-term lease is now much less complicated. Florida House Bill 469 (HB 469), which took effect on July 1, 2020, allows both commercial and residential long-term leases to be executed without witnesses, expediting the process for all involved.

 

Prior to the enactment of the new law, Section 689.01 of the Florida Statutes dictated that the execution of a lease for a term of more than one year required two witnesses per signatory. In effect, this meant that six people (the lessor, the lessee, two witnesses for the lessor, and two for the lessee) were needed to consummate a lease agreement. Landlords and tenants complained for years that the witness requirement was cumbersome; however, it became even more so when Florida started allowing electronic signatures on leases.

The motive behind allowing electronic signatures was to expedite the process of executing a lease agreement. Continuing to require witnesses, however, essentially defeats the purpose of allowing electronic signatures.

The new law has removed the time-consuming witness requirement for long-term leases in Florida. This allows the lessor and lessee to execute the lease agreement quickly and efficiently, potentially allowing for a significantly earlier start date for the lease.