Define: Letter Of Attornment

Letter Of Attornment
Letter Of Attornment
Quick Summary of Letter Of Attornment

A letter of attornment is a document sent by a landlord to their tenant, notifying them that the property they are renting has been sold to a new owner. The purpose of the letter is to instruct the tenant to start paying rent to the new owner instead of the previous landlord. Attornment refers to the tenant’s agreement to recognise the new owner as their landlord and continue paying rent to them. This agreement is necessary because the tenant’s lease agreement was with the previous owner, and the new owner has no legal relationship with the tenant until they agree to attorn. For instance, if a tenant is renting a house from John and John sells the house to Jane, John would send a letter of attornment to the tenant, informing them that Jane is the new owner and that they should begin paying rent to her. The tenant would then need to sign an agreement to attorn to Jane, acknowledging her as their new landlord. Another example of attornment is when a bailee, such as a warehouse owner, acknowledges that they will hold goods on behalf of someone other than the original owner. This type of attornment is a form of constructive delivery, where the intermediary possessor of an item delivers it by arranging for the immediate possessor to agree with the transferee to hold it for the future on their behalf.

What is the dictionary definition of Letter Of Attornment?
Dictionary Definition of Letter Of Attornment

The purpose of a letter of attornment is to inform a tenant that the property they are renting has been sold to a new owner. The letter instructs the tenant to begin paying rent to the new owner. Attornment refers to the tenant’s agreement to become the tenant of the new landlord. This process is crucial as it allows the new owner to assume control of the property and commence rent collection.

Full Definition Of Letter Of Attornment

A Letter of Attornment is a legal document commonly used in property and real estate transactions, particularly in the context of leasing agreements. This document essentially signifies a tenant’s acknowledgment of a new landlord, typically arising from the sale or transfer of the property where the lease is in effect. The letter serves as a formal agreement that the tenant will recognise and pay rent to the new owner of the property, ensuring continuity and stability in rental relationships despite changes in property ownership. This overview will explore the concept of a Letter of Attornment in detail, including its purposes, legal implications, typical contents, and the processes involved in its execution.

Purpose and Importance of a Letter of Attornment

The primary purpose of a Letter of Attornment is to confirm the tenant’s obligation to the new landlord, ensuring that the lease terms continue to be honoured. This is crucial for several reasons:

  • Legal Continuity: It helps maintain the continuity of the lease agreement, preventing any disputes or confusion about the rightful recipient of rent payments.
  • Security for the New Landlord: For the new property owner, it provides assurance that the tenant acknowledges their new status and is committed to upholding the lease terms.
  • Tenant Assurance: It reassures the tenant that their lease agreement remains valid and that their tenancy rights are protected despite the change in property ownership.
  • Financial Stability: It ensures that rent payments are not disrupted, which is beneficial for both the tenant and the new landlord.

Legal Implications of a Letter of Attornment

A Letter of Attornment carries significant legal implications for all parties involved. Understanding these implications is crucial for both tenants and landlords:

  • Acknowledgement of New Landlord: By signing the Letter of Attornment, the tenant formally acknowledges the new landlord as their legitimate landlord, thereby transferring all previous obligations and rights to the new owner.
  • Binding Agreement: It creates a binding agreement between the tenant and the new landlord, reinforcing the terms of the existing lease agreement.
  • Enforceability: In the event of any disputes regarding rent payments or lease terms, the Letter of Attornment can be used as a legal document to enforce compliance.
  • No Changes to Lease Terms: Importantly, the Letter of Attornment does not alter the original lease terms. It merely confirms the transfer of rights and obligations to the new landlord.

Typical Contents of a Letter of Attornment

A well-drafted Letter of Attornment typically includes the following elements:

  • Introduction: A brief introduction stating the purpose of the letter.
  • Parties Involved: Clear identification of all parties involved, including the tenant, the original landlord (if applicable), and the new landlord.
  • Property Details: Detailed description of the property subject to the lease, including the address and any relevant identifiers.
  • Acknowledgement: A statement where the tenant acknowledges the new landlord and agrees to pay rent and fulfil other lease obligations to them.
  • Lease Continuity: Confirmation that the terms of the existing lease agreement remain unchanged and in full effect.
  • Signatures: Signatures of the tenant and the new landlord, along with the date of signing.
  • Witnesses: In some jurisdictions, the signatures may need to be witnessed to enhance the document’s legal validity.

Process of Executing a Letter of Attornment

The process of executing a Letter of Attornment generally involves several steps:

  • Drafting the Letter: The new landlord or their legal representative typically drafts the Letter of Attornment. It is crucial that the letter accurately reflect the terms of the existing lease agreement and the new landlord’s details.
  • Review by Tenant: The drafted letter is then presented to the tenant for review. The tenant may seek legal advice to ensure that their rights are protected and that the document does not alter the original lease terms.
  • Amendments (if necessary): If the tenant or their legal advisor identifies any issues or requires clarifications, amendments can be made to the letter before signing.
  • Signing the Letter: Once both parties agree on the content, the letter is signed by the tenant and the new landlord. Depending on the jurisdiction, witnessing requirements may apply.
  • Distribution of Copies: Copies of the signed Letter of Attornment are distributed to all relevant parties, including the tenant, the new landlord, and the original landlord (if applicable).
  • Record-keeping: It is essential for all parties to retain a copy of the signed Letter of Attornment for their records. This document serves as proof of the tenant’s acknowledgment of the new landlord and can be referenced in case of any future disputes.

Case Studies and Examples

To better understand the practical application and significance of a Letter of Attornment, let’s consider a few case studies and examples:

Case Study 1: Commercial Property Transfer:

A large commercial property, leased to several businesses, is sold to a new owner. Each tenant receives a Letter of Attornment, acknowledging the new owner as their landlord. This ensures that all tenants continue to operate under the same lease terms, providing stability for both the businesses and the new property owner.

Case Study 2: Residential Property Sale:

A residential rental property is sold to a new landlord. The existing tenants receive a Letter of Attornment, confirming the new landlord’s identity and the continuation of their lease agreements. This process helps to avoid any disruptions in rent payments and reassures tenants about their tenancy rights.

Case Study 3: Dispute Resolution:

In a scenario where a tenant disputes the payment of rent to a new landlord, the signed Letter of Attornment can be used as evidence in court to demonstrate the tenant’s prior acknowledgment of the new landlord, thereby resolving the dispute in favour of the landlord.


A Letter of Attornment plays a crucial role in maintaining the stability and continuity of lease agreements during property ownership transfers. By formalising the tenant’s acknowledgment of the new landlord, it ensures that lease terms remain in effect and rent payments continue without interruption. For both tenants and landlords, understanding the purpose, legal implications, and proper execution of a Letter of Attornment is essential to navigating property transactions smoothly and effectively.

This document serves not only as a practical tool for managing property transitions but also as a legal safeguard, protecting the interests of both parties involved. Whether in commercial or residential settings, a well-drafted Letter of Attornment is a vital component of a seamless property ownership transfer, providing clarity, assurance, and legal enforceability.

Letter Of Attornment FAQ'S

A Letter of Attornment is a legal document that acknowledges a change in ownership or tenancy of a property. It is typically used in real estate transactions when a property is sold or leased to a new owner or tenant.

A Letter of Attornment is important because it establishes a formal relationship between the new owner or tenant and any existing parties involved in the property, such as lenders or tenants. It ensures that all parties are aware of the change and can communicate and transact with the new owner or tenant.

A Letter of Attornment is usually issued by the landlord or property owner to the tenant or any other interested parties, such as lenders or contractors.

A Letter of Attornment should include the names and contact information of the parties involved, the effective date of the change in ownership or tenancy, a description of the property, and any specific terms or conditions related to the change.

Yes, a Letter of Attornment is a legally binding document. It establishes the rights and obligations of the parties involved and can be enforced in a court of law if necessary.

While a tenant may have concerns or reservations about signing a Letter of Attornment, it is generally in their best interest to do so. Refusing to sign may lead to complications in their tenancy, such as difficulties in communicating with the new owner or potential eviction.

In some cases, a lender may refuse to accept a Letter of Attornment if they have specific requirements or concerns. However, it is generally in their best interest to acknowledge the change in ownership or tenancy to ensure proper communication and payment arrangements.

A Letter of Attornment can be revoked or amended if all parties involved agree to the changes. However, it is important to consult with legal professionals to ensure that any modifications are done properly and in accordance with the law.

Failing to issue a Letter of Attornment when required may lead to legal disputes or complications in the future. It is important to comply with the legal requirements and obligations associated with property ownership or tenancy.

No, a Letter of Attornment can be used for both residential and commercial properties. It is a versatile legal document that can be adapted to various types of property transactions.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 11th June 2024.

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