Who can sign documents on behalf of a Landlord? 

The recent decision in Northwood (Solihull) Ltd v Fearns & Ors was handed down on 26th January 2022 and provides reassurance to Landlords and their Agents, as to who may sign particular documents for and on behalf of a residential Landlord. 

In short, the Judgment confirmed that an authorised signatory of a Landlord or Agent can sign: 

  1. A Deposit Protection Certificate; and 
  1. A s8 Notice Seeking Possession 

The issue arose as the Landlord was a Company, and s44 Companies Act 2006 states that: 

“44Execution of documents 

(1) Under the law of England and Wales or Northern Ireland a document is executed by a company— 

(a)by the affixing of its common seal, or 

(b)by signature in accordance with the following provisions. 

(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. 

(3) The following are “authorised signatories” for the purposes of subsection (2)— 

(a)every director of the company, and 

(b)in the case of a private company with a secretary or a public company, the secretary (or any joint secretary) of the company.” 

As the Deposit Protection Certificate and s8 Notice were not signed in accordance with s44 Companies Act 2006, the Tenant argued that they were invalid and therefore that the possession claim should be struck out. 

A further issue was raised in that the identity of the person signing was not correctly marked after the signature, e.g., Landlord, Agent and so on. The Court of Appeal said this did not matter as it was an obvious error which did not affect the validity of the notice. 

It should be noted therefore that the same application can be applied to a s21 Notice Seeking Possession in my opinion. 

There are already a number of technical defences to be raised in possession proceedings, so this Judgment provides some welcomed reassurance to Landlords. 

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For any further information please contact Phillip Coburn via phillipcoburn@msbsolicitors.co.uk.