Although tenancy agreements serve as a contract between two (sometimes more) individuals, whether or not it needs to be signed by both parties and also a witness will vary depending on certain circumstances. The aim of this blog post is to discuss whether or not a tenancy agreement needs to be signed by a witness. In addition to this, we will also explore the essential requirements of a tenancy agreement and review how to add or remove someone to and from an existing tenancy agreement.

Does A Tenancy Agreement Need To Be Witnessed?

Under Section 52 of the Law of Property Act 1925, a tenancy agreement only needs to be witnessed and signed by the witnesses if the tenure of the tenancy is going to last for more than three years. In such a case, the tenancy agreement is said to be a deed, which needs the signatures of both parties involved as well as a witness.

In the case of a tenancy agreement that is meant to last less than three years, it is termed a contract. This means that there is no need for a witness. In fact, in such cases, the parties coming into a contract can also just e-sign the document (or not at all in some cases) versus an inked signature.

On the other hand, there are certain legal experts who believe that it is always best to have the parties involved in a contract sign the document in ink, in the presence of a witness. This witness is also asked to sign the document to authenticate its contents and implications. Usually, family members are asked to witness on behalf of the tenant and the agent on behalf of the landlord.

What Should Be Included In A Tenancy Agreement?

A tenancy agreement should include the following basic contents:

  • Full names of all the parties that are involved
  • Address of the property
  • Start and end dates of the tenancy agreement
  • Terms of the rental payments
  • Amount of rent and the frequency of payments
  • Details of the mode of rental payments
  • Information regarding the review of the rental amount
  • Details about the security of the tenancy deposit
  • Details about the conditions of the deposit being withheld
  • Obligations/responsibilities of the tenant and landlord

In addition to this, should the landlord or tenant wish to add any particular conditions as well, they can do so.

Can I Add Someone To My Tenancy Agreement?

Yes, you can add someone to your tenancy as long as you have permission from your landlord. However, it is not essential for someone to be listed as a joint tenant on your tenancy agreement as they can continue living with you as an occupant.

There are two classifications of residents on a tenancy agreement; tenant and occupier. While the tenant; or in the case of multiple tenants is responsible to maintain the house that they live in, not causing damage to property and paying their rent on time, occupiers are merely listed as individuals who continue living in the house with the tenant(s) without having to share any responsibility towards the property. 

Can I Remove Ex-Partner From Tenancy Agreement?

Yes, you can remove your ex-partner from your tenancy agreement; however, the way that you may need to go about depends on your circumstances and relationship status.

If you are both listed as joint tenants, you will need an agreement from your ex-partner and landlord for removal from the tenancy agreement. In this case, if your ex-partner fails to comply, they must be informed that being listed as a joint tenant keeps them responsible for a contribution towards the house rent. If your landlord or ex-partner does not agree to a tenancy transfer or your tenancy agreement prohibits it, you can file an application in court.

However, if you are listed as the tenant and they are listed as an occupant, you can simply inform your landlord of the change and ask them to draw up a fresh tenancy agreement. If your partner is listed as the tenant and you as the occupant, you have the status changed through mutual agreement of your landlord and ex-partner by having a fresh tenancy agreement drawn up.

Conclusion:

The discussion in this blog post makes it clear that unless a tenancy agreement is intended to last for a tenure of more than three years, there is no requirement for a witness to be present during the proceeds or to sign it. However, if it is meant to exceed in its application for more than three years, the nature of the agreement becomes that of a deed, requiring the signature of a reliable witness.

FAQs: Does A Tenancy Agreement Need To Be Witnessed?

Who can witness a tenancy agreement in the UK?

The landlord and tenant(s) cannot be a witness to a tenancy agreement in the UK; however, family members or agents can witness a tenancy agreement.

Can a tenancy agreement be signed electronically in the UK?

While tenancy agreements that apply for less than three years can be signed electronically; however, those in excess of this time period must be signed in person, in the presence of a witness.

What makes a tenancy agreement invalid?

The fact that a tenancy agreement contains terms that make it against the law or illegal, will automatically become invalid.

What happens if one person leaves a joint tenancy?

A joint tenancy does not end with one of the joint tenants moving out of the premises. They need to inform the landlord of this change in occupancy status so that the tenant who continues to live in the house assumes sole tenancy as well as the complete responsibility for rental payments. 

How do you break a joint tenancy agreement?

If a joint tenant gives valid notice at the end of a tenancy contract (in some cases a fixed term), the joint tenancy will come to an end, even if there is a lack of consent from other joint tenants.

References:

A guide for landlords (England and Wales): What you should include in a tenancy agreement – GOV.UK

Does a tenancy agreement HAVE to be witnessed and signed as a deed? – The Landlord Law Blog

Electronic signing and tenancy agreements :: JMW Solicitors LLP

Joint tenancy and relationship breakdown

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