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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10944
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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In October 2015 we entered into a 12 month AST. The landlord

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In October 2015 we entered into a 12 month AST. The landlord required both our signatures and a witness. As we were living in Spain at the time we sent the signed copies via email with a promise to have the document witnessed in the UK on our return.
After we had moved back to the UK and into the property and as we prepared to take the document to be witnessed at a local solicitors office, we realised it was very badly drafted, several clauses were illegal and several just not necessary or so badly worded as to be worrying.
We requested that the landlord (there is no agent) tidied up the contract and amended/deleted superfluous terms which he agreed to. However when the revised contract was eventually returned to us in February 2016 signed by him, it was still not correct so we sent it back. It never returned. Now the landlord is saying that the original is in being. What are your views as to the validity of the original that we challenged ? We have the copy of the partially amended replacement contract signed by the landlord but not by us.
1. Dear *****, since the enactment of the Electronic Communications Act, 2000, which implemented and EU Directive, a document or signature in electronic form is as valid as if it were in written or printed form. Accordingly, this original AST which you signed in October, 2015, is valid in accordance with law and is good to regulate the AST between your self and your landlord. Essentially, what the Act does is confer legitimacy on all electronic forms of documents. Similarly, the Act also legitimises electronic signatures to agreements, such as an AST. So, this Act would validate your electronic communication in October, 2015. Additionally, because it implements an EU directive, a similar provision would operate in Spain. So, whether you apply Spanish law or UK law, the electronic document and signature would be valid.
2. I know this is not the answer your wanted. However, this is the state of the law. You would have to argue in some way that some other agreement superseded the original agreement through negotiation and subsequent agreement. However, from the facts you narrate, it does not appear as if there was a concluded offer and acceptance in relation to any of the amendations. So, in such a case, the original October 2015 agreement (AST) would be binding.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
so the fact the the landlord submitted an amended contract which he signed counts for nothing? and what do we do about all the illegal clauses?
4. In order for the amended contract which the landlord signed to be valid, you would also have to sign it. from what you state, you haven't signed it??? You can sign it and call it binding, but then you are left with its defects. The choice is yours. Secondly, you need the agreement of the landlord if you want to amend the terms of the lease. The point being that what you signed at the outset is binding.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We did formally write to the landlord at the time to advise him that we rejected the original contract due to the unfair terms are we not covered somewhere?
5. I regret to say that by simply writing to the landlord telling him you reject certain clauses, this does not get your out of what you previously signed. Once you signed the AST, you were bound by it, even though it was only an email. I would suggest you negotiate further with the landlord and see if something can be done today. But the bot***** *****ne is that once you signed the AST, you were bound by it. The law does not let parties get out of an agreement they have signed, just because they decide they don't like part of it, subsequently.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Your answer was all well and good however a bit simplistic. I mentioned Spain and email only because that was the only contract we signed, the landlord did not sign it either! We do not have a contract signed by both parties and I need to know what constitutes a signed contract. Once we got back to the UK the landlord agreed to make changes but seemingly lost interest and although we paid him £120 for him to prepare a contract it never really happened. Is the contract we signed valid and enforceable even though the landlord did not sign it and return it to us either amended or otherwise?
6. Dear *****, I appreciate that from an academic point of view my answer might seem simplistic. However, once you signed the lease and returned it to the landlord (by email), you were bound by it. The landlord can then sign it at his leisure. There is no obligation on a landlord to return a copy to you. Nor is there any need for the landlord to subsequently amend it. Here the landlord might appear to you, as if he lost interest. However, he declined to sign the amendments. So you are bound by the original. The contract you signed is valid and enforceable even though the landlord may not have returned it to you, whether amended or otherwise.