Putting the No in Notary

As of June 6, 2024, Washington state has declared that commercial leases no longer need to be notarized.   Prior to June 6, 2024, commercial leases in Washington state that lasted longer than one year had to be notarized in order to be effective.  Enter Substitute Senate Bill 5840, which amended the Washington state statutes to remove the notary requirement for all leases, regardless of the length of the term.

Substitute Senate Bill 5840 provides, in part, “every conveyance of real estate, or any interest therein, and every contract creating or evidencing any encumbrance upon real estate, shall be by deed: PROVIDED, that (1) Leases do not require acknowledgment, witness, or seals, but to be recorded, a lease and a memorandum of lease must have the lessee’s and lessor’s signatures acknowledged…”.

While leases no longer need to be notarized in Washington state to be effective, if a party to a commercial lease wishes to record the lease or a memorandum of lease (for example, to better protect exclusive rights or other use restrictions), the lease or memorandum of lease must still be notarized in order to be recorded, as is common in most states.  With Washington’s new change in law, the state joins the majority of other states in the U.S. that do not require notarization of leases and brings us one step closer to a full embrace of electronic signatures in commercial leases.

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