What is a Mortgage Deed and how do I have it Signed and Witnessed?

2 people signing documents

What is a Mortgage Deed?

A mortgage deed is any legal instrument, in writing which passes, affirms or confirms an interest, right or property. It must be signed, attested, delivered and in some jurisdictions (but no longer England and Wales), sealed. It is commonly associated with transferring title to property usually known as conveyancing.

How should the deed be signed and witnessed?

The Land Registry have recently issued updated guidance as to how deeds should be executed (or signed and witnessed).

Each individual must sign “in the presence of a witness who attests the signature” (s1(3) LP (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989).

The witnesses’ signature must be clear and they must also print their name and address beneath their signature. Once again this should be printed clearly.

Who can witness a mortgage deed?

The same witness may witness each individual signature, but each signature must be separately, attested (in other words the witness must sign and print their details as for the first names signatory to the deed).

A party to the deed cannot witness the signature of another party to the deed.

The relevant legislation does not prevent a signatory’s spouse, civil partner, or cohabitee from acting as a witness (if they are not a party to a deed), but according to the Land Registry (and indeed our advice) this is best avoided.

How old should the witness be?

It is also advisable that the witness be no younger than 18 years old or, at least, of sufficient maturity for their evidence to be relied on should it later prove necessary to verify the circumstances under which the execution took place.


For further information about signing deeds, conveyancing or property law in general why not contact one of Alexander JLO’s expert property team and see what we can do for you?

6 thoughts on “What is a Mortgage Deed and how do I have it Signed and Witnessed?

    • Peter Johnson says:

      Thank you for your interest in our blog.

      It is up to whoever requires a document to be signed to dictate how it is to be signed, whether with one or two or no witnesses at all.

      Peter Johnson
      Senior Partner

  1. Dan says:

    Hi,
    Can you please clarify who needs to sign the mortgage deed? Is it the mortgagor only or both the mortgagor and mortgagee?
    Thank you

    • Matt Johnson says:

      Thank you for your interest in our blog.

      Most “High Street” lenders do no sign mortgage deeds in person as HM Land Registry have arrangements in place with them to accept unsigned documents.

      The position is different for private mortgages where it would be usual for both the lender and borrower to sign.

      Matt Johnson
      Property Partner.

  2. Sandra King says:

    Mortgage Deed

    What would happen to someone who sign has a witness on a mortgage deed, if the borrower doesn’t pay.

    • Matt Johnson says:

      Thank you for your interest in our blog.

      The simple answer to your question is that a witness is not usually liable to the lender simply by signing and witnessing the deed. Obviously the situation is different if the witness is also a party to the loan agreement as a borrower or guarantor (but in that case it is arguable that they should not be witnessing the deed as they are technically not independent).

      Matt Johnson
      Property Partner

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