The Governor of Florida signed House Bill 469 into law effective July 1, 2020, modifying the execution requirements for a landlord and tenant to enter into an enforceable lease. Generally, Section 689.01 of the Florida Statutes requires that any instrument transferring an interest in real property for a term of more than 1 year be “by instrument in writing, signed in the presence of two subscribing witnesses” by the transferring party. Effective July 1, 2020, Section 689.01 has been modified by adding the following:
“provided, however, that no subscribing witnesses shall be required for a lease of real property or any such instrument pertaining to a lease of real property.”
This is a significant change, as courts have previously held that a lease for a term greater than 1 year could be void if it did not have two witnesses (e.g., S & I Investments v. Payless Flea Mkt., Inc., 36 So. 3d 909, 914 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010), Skylake Ins. Agency, Inc. v. NMB Plaza, LLC, 23 So. 3d 175 (Fla. 3d DCA 2009)).
All other formality requirements remain in place, and the requirements for deeds and other instruments not pertaining to a lease of real property have not changed. As a best practice, whether required or not, having the execution of a document witnessed or notarized may be beneficial should its execution later need to be proved.
If you have any questions about the requirements for an enforceable lease or if you need assistance with reviewing or drafting a lease, please consult one of our trusted real estate attorneys.