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Key Change to Florida Statute on Transferring Land & Real Estate (Part I): Lease Witness Requirement Waived

July 17, 2020

By: Joaquin “Quino” Martinez and Emmett Egger

Effective July 1, 2020, witnesses’ signatures are no longer needed for residential and commercial leases. The amended Section 689.01, Florida Statutes, removed the requirement that a landlord’s signature on a lease must be witnessed by two subscribing witnesses when the term of a lease is longer than one year.

Many may be delighted by this change in the law as landlords no longer have to secure two witnesses to execute a lease (which since COVID-19 may include coordinating a video conference where the landlord and the witnesses electronically sign). This will save landlords valuable time and possibly money.

Although many landlords may welcome this change in the law, the witness requirement was in place to protect landlords. Specifically, the requirement helped defend landlords from persons falsely claiming that they had a leasehold interest and/or from tenants seeking to nullify a lease by claiming that their signature had been forged. As such, if a landlord makes a practice of signing leases without subscribing witnesses, as is now permitted, the landlord may want to put in place a procedure that has an effect similar to that of a subscribing witness.

Please contact an attorney for guidance and recommendations specific to your circumstances.

Stay tuned for Part II for a look at another change to Florida Statute 689 concerning Scrivener’s Error.

This article is informational only. You should consult an attorney before acting or failing to act. The law may change rapidly and no warranty is given. LOWNDES DISCLAIMS ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES AND WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY WARRANTY OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. ALL ARTICLES ARE PROVIDED AS IS AND WITH ALL FAULTS. Consult a Lowndes attorney if you wish to establish an attorney/client relationship.

Quino Martinez focuses his practice on commercial leasing and real estate investment, development and financing. He represents public and private real estate investors, developers, property management companies, brokerage firms and national lenders, as well as non-profits. 

Being the third generation in his family to be named Joaquin, his parents distinguished him from his father and grandfather by calling him Quino (pronounced “key-no”). Having his name constantly mispronounced doesn’t bother Quino. His clients get it right, and even more significantly, they respect that he gets their business right. No trite statements here; just the facts: Quino cares deeply about his clients, their businesses and their families.

His clients include public and private real estate investors, developers, property management companies, brokerage firms, and, from time to time, non-profits. Quino has represented these entities in the acquisition, financing, development and disposition of multifamily developments, industrial properties, office buildings, shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, golf courses and other resort related developments, retirement communities and vacant land. He has also represented national lending institutions in connection with commercial loan transactions, workouts and loan restructuring.

Whether focusing on commercial leasing, real estate investment and development or financing, Quino takes “ownership” of his clients’ transactions. Described by his clients as a deal-maker, Quino and his team work hard to ensure that their deals close in a timely manner and that their clients’ objectives are met. Qualities honed by his Jesuit education – integrity, initiative in service of others, patience, persistence and excellent communication – have endeared him to clients and colleagues alike. Those same traits afforded him leadership roles with the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Georgia, the City of Orlando Board of Zoning Adjustment and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando. He also initiated a community partnership and sustained mentoring program between Lowndes and the FAMU College of Law.

Licensed to practice law in Florida, Georgia and Texas, Quino is proud to be connected to each of those states (but particularly the Lone Star State), and routinely assists clients in matters in each locale. Mostly, he is proud of his deep relationships with his clients and colleagues – who have no trouble pronouncing his name.


Emmett Egger focuses his practice on assisting clients with acquiring, developing, financing and leasing commercial real estate assets, including multifamily, office buildings, condominiums, shopping centers, hospitality and leisure assets, and senior living facilities. He has experience with a wide range of complex commercial real estate transactions, including real estate portfolio deals and sale-leaseback transactions. He has also represented property owners and management companies in commercial landlord-tenant disputes.

A tennis player from a very young age, Emmett served as captain of the men’s tennis team at the University of Washington and qualified to play in all four junior majors (Australian, French, Wimbledon, and U.S. Open). Utilizing the discipline, focus and determination that he cultivated as a competitive athlete, he provides timely and high-quality legal solutions for clients faced with a variety of complex real estate acquisition, development, finance and commercial leasing issues.

Emmett serves as chair of the Orange County Bar Association’s Real Property Committee. He is also a member of the Orange County Teen Court Advisory Board and the Victim Service Center of Central Florida Young Professional Board.

Still an avid tennis player, Emmett also enjoys sports, hiking, fishing and the great outdoors.

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