Notarization No Longer Required for Commercial Leases in Washington

Legal Alert

Effective June 6, 2024, commercial leases in Washington for a fixed term of more than one year no longer need to be notarized. Substitute Senate Bill 5840 states that “Leases do not require acknowledgment, witness, or seals...” This is welcome news for parties who have long complained of the burden of notarizing leases in Washington, especially for out of state signatories. Substitute Senate Bill 5480 will make it easier for signatories to sign electronically, streamlining commercial lease executions.

Prior to this change in law, Washington leases for a fixed term over one year had to be in the form of a deed, which required the landlord’s signature to be notarized. In practice, most parties collected notarized signatures from both parties to assure the tenant’s acceptance of the leasehold covenants. Failure to comply with the acknowledgment requirements sometimes led to significant consequences, such as a refusal by courts to enforce the stated term of the lease.  

The new legislation does not eliminate the need for notarized signatures of both parties on a recorded lease or memorandum of lease.  

Also, the new legislation does not change the provision of the Residential Landlord Tenant Act that requires notarized signatures on leases of more than a year.

Washington’s laws regarding commercial leases are complex. If you have questions about whether a current or future lease is valid and binding under Washington law, please contact a Stoel Rives real estate attorney.

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