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Florida Allows Digital Signatures for Leases

by William C. Coleman III, Orlando, August 2020

 

A new Florida law will help streamline the process of executing a property lease, whether commercial or residential. It removes requirements that landlords must have two witnesses present when signing a lease for more than one year.

 

“The removal of the witnesses requirement allows for the use of digital signatures – resulting in an increase in authenticity for the landlord and the tenant, as well as an increase in the speed of business during these COVID times,” NAIOP Central Florida Past President Brendon Dedekind said in a news release.

 

House Bill 469

 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 469 into law after it received unanimous support in both the House and Senate.

 

The Florida chapter of NAIOP worked in partnership with Florida Realtors, the Florida Apartment Association and the Florida Bar’s Real Property Probate and Trust Law Section to push for the new law, which went into effect July 1, 2020.

 

Time Saver

 

State law already allowed for electronic signing of contracts, but until the passage of HB 469, the witness requirement for leases remained. Florida was one of seven states that had this requirement.

 

The new law will save landlords a considerable about of time because now a lease requires just two parties to sign, rather than up to six (the landlord, tenant, and two witnesses for each side).

 

“The witnesses requirement was a cumbersome and unnecessary holdover from the pre-digital era,” said NAIOP Florida President Darcie Lunsford. “This is particularly crucial in the post-COVID environment, where we are looking for ways to limit interpersonal contact while still trying to conduct business, keep our economy going, and our buildings full.”