How does a Company Landlord sign an AST?

by Readers Question

9:16 AM, 2nd June 2016
About 3 years ago

How does a Company Landlord sign an AST?

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How does a Company Landlord sign an AST?

Twice now I have had a judge question how I have signed an AST on behalf of my company.signature

What is the correct way please?

Many thanks

Steve



Comments

Neil Patterson

9:18 AM, 2nd June 2016
About 3 years ago

Good question Steve as I didn't realise this was an issue.

How have you done it before when questioned by a judge?

Romain Garcin

9:55 AM, 2nd June 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Steve,

My understanding is that as a director you can sign _on behalf_ of the company.
If a document requires to be signed _by_ the company then a director and a witness may sign.

In your case, perhaps it was not clear to the judge who signed the AST agreement. After all, he will not know that e.g. you are a director unless it is made explicit.

Steve Masters

9:57 AM, 2nd June 2016
About 3 years ago

I have used the NLA online forms generator, I input my name as I will be signing and also the company name as it owns the property. This generates a signature line "My Name, Company Name" at the bottom ready for me to sign on behalf of the company but puts me as the landlord with the Company also mentioned in the details at the top.

eg at the top
LANDLORD(S): my name
COMPANY: my company
TENANT(S): my tenant

and at the bottom
THE LANDLORD: my name, my company
LANDLORD'S SIGNATURE: my signature

The judge quite rightly points out that I am not entitled to be the landlord as the company owns the property.

Graham Bowcock

13:37 PM, 2nd June 2016
About 3 years ago

Dear Steve

A limited company can sign as follows:

Two directors
One director and the company secretary
One director with a signature witnessed by an independent adult witness

If you signed as landlord, as with any regular agreement, then technically you have not signed correctly, even is you are a director.

On a separate point about limited companies we had a case where the Landlord's name in the tenancy agreement did not match the ownership at Land Registry (a change had been made between linked parties - both limited companies); the judge would not hear the case even though the tenant had not raised the issue at all. It is therefore vital that the agreement matches the ownership.

Graham

Charles King - Barrister-At-Law

15:16 PM, 2nd June 2016
About 3 years ago

Oh dear, jobsworth judges. As a tenancy agreement can be oral I don't really see what concern it is of the judge's whose signature is on the agreement unless the tenant is asserting that the company has no legal right to possession, or that the company is not the real landlord. Which I daresay the tenant was not saying in your case. Those judge's just love to get involved, even if its something not altogether relevant. Even if the company were found not to be the 'real' landlord (an absurdly technical approach) you would have every right to apply to the court to have your name substituted as Claimant there and then, and for that to have absolutely no bearing on the making of a possession order. You would have good grounds for appeal if the judge refused to hear the case or refused to make a possession order on that basis - but Graham is right, you want to avoid that, as the costs and delay of an appeal would likely not be worth it. There is a difference here between 'ostensible authority' (the right to sign on behalf of a company so as to bind the company legally) and the evidence you need to show that a Claimant is entitled to the order sought. Besides, a director, secretary or You can always sign the tenancy with the manuscript addition 'on behalf of the landlord/company' next to your signature. If you have any future cases where this might be an issue you should put in a short statement to the court explaining that you are a director/secretary of the company. As a point of fact you do not have to own (or even have any legal relationship) to a property in order to be able to grant a tenancy of it so as to have a binding tenancy visa vis you and the tenant. This is called a 'tenancy by estoppel' and generally means that a tenant can't prevent a possession order by saying 'a-ha, it turns out that you didn't have the right to grant me a tenancy after all'. Obviously there are exceptions to that, but it's the law. I assume you got your possession orders in the end in both of these cases. Also if there has been a change of ownership you should certainly explain in the Particulars of Claim or in a supporting statement who the original tenancy was between, and when the change of ownership took place. It's very common!

Steve Masters

15:22 PM, 2nd June 2016
About 3 years ago

I think this is correct
at the top on the details page
LANDLORD(S): my company ltd
TENANT(S): my tenant

but is this correct?
at the bottom on the signature page
THE LANDLORD: my name, director of my company ltd
LANDLORD’S SIGNATURE: my signature
WITNESSED BY: wife's name, director of my company ltd
WITNESS'S SIGNATURE: wife's signature

Steve Masters

16:34 PM, 2nd June 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Charles King - Barrister-At-Law" at "02/06/2016 - 15:16":

Yes Charles, the judges where certainly being picky as the defendant made no mention it.

I issued the S21 notice with the landlord the same as on the AST eg "my name, my company ltd". It may have been the S21 he took exception to. In the first case I named the claimant the same as the S21 eg "my name, my company ltd". In the recent case I named the claimant as "my company ltd". All a bit of a mix up really.

Luckily I did get my Possession Orders but I don't want to run the risk in future.

For all new AST's I will name the Landlord (and if I have to go to court, the claimant) as "my company ltd" and sign everything as "my name, director of my company ltd" .

Not sure what I will do if I ever have to issue notices on the old AST's!

Steve Masters

16:40 PM, 2nd June 2016
About 3 years ago

Would a section 48 notice help, explaining the landlord is in fact "my company ltd" and not "my name, my company ltd"?

Charles King - Barrister-At-Law

17:09 PM, 2nd June 2016
About 3 years ago

I think you've just been unlucky with the judges, but I'm sure any method you propose above would do. The judge will be worried about being appealed, after making a possession order in favour of someone who might not actually be the landlord (a big mistake). So long as there is something from you (e.g., a witness statement) explaining why there might be a discrepancy between the landlord named on the tenancy agreement and any other document (notice, Claim form, etc) that should really satisfy them. But then, there is no satisfying some people. A section 48 notice would certainly help if you were claiming arrears, or possession under an arrears ground. In fact it might be fatal to an arrears claim if you haven't got a s.48 notice with the name and address of the landlord as named on the tenancy agreement (OR the subsequent landlord where there has been a transfer of ownership). I hope this helps, but it does sound like you know what you're doing!

Paul Franklin

10:36 AM, 6th June 2016
About 3 years ago

My understanding is that s.44 Companies Act 2006 provides that:

(2) A document is validly executed by a company if it is signed on behalf of the company–
(a) by two authorised signatories, or

(b) by a director of the company in the presence of a witness who attests the signature

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