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Can alarm co get ownership of equipment on take-over by using a lease form / electronic contract execution
August 1, 2018
Can alarm co get ownership of equipment on take-over by using a lease form
    We came across a very interesting situation and I would like your advice. A new client, a Hotel, had a fire alarm system installed years ago by an unknown installer. The hotel changed ownership about 10 years ago and assumed all assets within the building. The system was designed and approved by the Nassau County Fire Marshal and the client is not having any issue with the system.
    A few years ago the decide to change monitoring and services companies to another alarm company at which time they were presented with a standard lease agreement for monitoring, inspections and service. The new company did not install any equipment, they just reprogrammed the existing central station transmitter.
    My question to you is, they signed a Lease which states as all leases do the security equipment is the property of the lessor and now the new company is claiming that the fire alarm is their property as per the Lease. The client cannot now change companies without a huge expense. Can the new company get away with this or is there a way to put them on notice that their claim of ownership is invalid. The client has no specific records showing his ownership of the fire alarm.
          Under the facts presented the new alarm company did not install any new equipment, it only programmed the existing system to a new central station. The agreement presented to the customer on the take-over was a lease, and that lease provided that the equipment was leased and remained the property of the alarm company.
          What was the intention of the parties, the customer and alarm company, when the lease was signed?  The lease could easily have read that the equipment was already installed and owned by the customer, but that the customer was transferring ownership to the alarm company in exchange of the alarm company assuming responsibility for the operation of the equipment and system.  The agreement did not likely read like that; it probably was silent on this issue and merely stated that the equipment “remained” the property of the alarm company.
          The weakness of that argument is that the equipment was never the property of the alarm company. It therefore could not “remain” its property.  
          As far as proving ownership, certainly the new alarm company will not be able to prove it installed the equipment.  A court would likely determine that the only equipment owned and leased by the new alarm company was the new equipment it installed at time of the take-over and thereafter.  
electronic contract execution

    We purchased a group of contracts last spring and have been using them since. I’d like to switch to an electronic version. I’m aware I need to purchase the Disclosure and Consent form and have it signed by clients.
    Do I use the same file that I have or are there EC versions of the contracts? For example, would I email client John Doe a copy of my Residential All in One contract for his signature? I’m not sure how the personal info and signature (his and ours) would be handled.

Dick C
          When you get the Standard Form Agreements we send them to you by email in Word and PDF.  You can use them right off your computer if you like and send them to your customers via email.  If you are not using one of the electronic signature companies you do have to be careful how you get the contract “signed” electronically.  
          A customer could print, sign, scan and email the contract back to you.
          A customer could acknowledge consent on an email that has a copy of the contract on the email.
          A customer could reference the contract in an email, though later there may be a dispute what the contract looked like at the time it was approved.
          I believe there are programs that will permit the subscriber to “sign” the contract and send it back.  
          The key to enforcement is establishing that the customer actually agreed to the contract by signature on the document or some other conclusive proof that the customer agreed to the terms of that contract.  You actually have the same issues in paper form contracts.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301
516 747 6700