Minor Change in the Law Could Save Florida Landlords Hundreds of Hours Per Year

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To all landlords with interest in Florida real estate, a small but very welcome change in real estate conveyances becomes law on July 1, 2020. After June 30, 2020, it is no longer required to have witnesses join in a real property lease – whether commercial or residential – for it to be valid.

Florida House Bill 469 (HB 469), filed on Oct. 28, 2019, and co-sponsored by Reps. Juan Alfonso Fernandez-Barquin and Wyman Duggan, received unanimous support in both the House and the Senate, with a 117-0 vote in the House and 40-0 vote in the Senate.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 469 on June 27, 2020. A change welcomed by Florida landlords, it removes the requirement under Section 689.01 of the Florida Statutes that a landlord must have two witnesses when signing a lease for a term of more than one year. HB 469 provides that no subscribing witnesses are required for a lease of real property, eliminating the requirement that two subscribing witnesses be present when the lessor signs a lease with a term of more than one year.

It has long been a question of landlords to their lawyers over the years if witnesses are really necessary when a lease is executed. Because Florida now allows electronic signatures on leases, the burden of having a lease witnessed had become even a larger problem, adding many hours of delay in securing a lease commencement date to make sure the required number of witnesses are available at the same time as both the landlord and tenant to execute the lease. The new law will save landlords a considerable amount of time because now a lease needs just two parties signing it instead of up to six (the landlord, tenant and two witnesses for each side).

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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