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What Is an Assignment of Contract?

Assignment of Contract Explained

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Assignment of contract allows one person to assign, or transfer, their rights, obligations, or property to another. An assignment of contract clause is often included in contracts to give either party the opportunity to transfer their part of the contract to someone else in the future. Many assignment clauses require that both parties agree to the assignment.

Learn more about assignment of contract and how it works.

What Is Assignment of Contract?

Assignment of contract means the contract and the property, rights, or obligations within it can be assigned to another party. An assignment of contract clause can typically be found in a business contract. This type of clause is common in contracts with suppliers or vendors and in intellectual property (patent, trademark , and copyright) agreements.

How Does Assignment of Contract Work?

An assignment may be made to anyone, but it is typically made to a subsidiary or a successor. A subsidiary is a business owned by another business, while a successor is the business that follows a sale, acquisition, or merger.

Let’s suppose Ken owns a lawn mowing service and he has a contract with a real estate firm to mow at each of their offices every week in the summer. The contract includes an assignment clause, so when Ken goes out of business, he assigns the contract to his sister-in-law Karrie, who also owns a lawn mowing service.

Before you try to assign something in a contract, check the contract to make sure it's allowed, and notify the other party in the contract.

Assignment usually is included in a specific clause in a contract. It typically includes transfer of both accountability and responsibility to another party, but liability usually remains with the assignor (the person doing the assigning) unless there is language to the contrary.

What Does Assignment of Contract Cover?

Generally, just about anything of value in a contract can be assigned, unless there is a specific law or public policy disallowing the assignment.

Rights and obligations of specific people can’t be assigned because special skills and abilities can’t be transferred. This is called specific performance.   For example, Billy Joel wouldn't be able to transfer or assign a contract to perform at Madison Square Garden to someone else—they wouldn't have his special abilities.

Assignments won’t stand up in court if the assignment significantly changes the terms of the contract. For example, if Karrie’s business is tree trimming, not lawn mowing, the contract can’t be assigned to her.

Assigning Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (such as copyrights, patents, and trademarks) has value, and these assets are often assigned. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) says patents are personal property and that patent rights can be assigned. Trademarks, too, can be assigned. The assignment must be registered with the USPTO's Electronic Trademark Assignment System (ETAS) .  

The U.S. Copyright Office doesn't keep a database of copyright assignments, but they will record the document if you follow their procedure.

Alternatives to Assignment of Contract

There are other types of transfers that may be functional alternatives to assignment.

Licensing is an agreement whereby one party leases the rights to use a piece of property (for example, intellectual property) from another. For instance, a business that owns a patent may license another company to make products using that patent.  

Delegation permits someone else to act on your behalf. For example, Ken’s lawn service might delegate Karrie to do mowing for him without assigning the entire contract to her. Ken would still receive the payment and control the work.

Do I Need an Assignment of Contract?

Assignment of contract can be a useful clause to include in a business agreement. The most common cases of assignment of contract in a business situation are:

  • Assignment of a trademark, copyright, or patent
  • Assignments to a successor company in the case of the sale of the business
  • Assignment in a contract with a supplier or customer
  • Assignment in an employment contract or work for hire agreement

Before you sign a contract, look to see if there is an assignment clause, and get the advice of an attorney if you want to assign something in a contract.

Key Takeaways

  • Assignment of contract is the ability to transfer rights, property, or obligations to another.
  • Assignment of contract is a clause often found in business contracts.
  • A party may assign a contract to another party if the contract permits it and no law forbids it.

Legal Information Institute. " Assignment ." Accessed Jan. 2, 2021.

Legal Information Institute. " Specific Performance ." Accessed Jan. 2, 2021.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. " 301 Ownership/Assignability of Patents and Applications [R-10.2019] ." Accessed Jan. 2, 2021.

Licensing International. " What is Licensing ." Accessed Jan. 2, 2021.

what does an assignment of contract mean

Understanding an assignment and assumption agreement

Need to assign your rights and duties under a contract? Learn more about the basics of an assignment and assumption agreement.

Find more Legal Forms and Templates

what does an assignment of contract mean

by   Belle Wong, J.D.

Belle Wong, is a freelance writer specializing in small business, personal finance, banking, and tech/SAAS. She ...

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Updated on: January 22, 2024 · 3min read

The assignment and assumption agreement

The basics of assignment and assumption, filling in the assignment and assumption agreement.

While every business should try its best to meet its contractual obligations, changes in circumstance can happen that could necessitate transferring your rights and duties under a contract to another party who would be better able to meet those obligations.

Person presenting documents to another person who is signing them

If you find yourself in such a situation, and your contract provides for the possibility of assignment, an assignment and assumption agreement can be a good option for preserving your relationship with the party you initially contracted with, while at the same time enabling you to pass on your contractual rights and duties to a third party.

An assignment and assumption agreement is used after a contract is signed, in order to transfer one of the contracting party's rights and obligations to a third party who was not originally a party to the contract. The party making the assignment is called the assignor, while the third party accepting the assignment is known as the assignee.

In order for an assignment and assumption agreement to be valid, the following criteria need to be met:

  • The initial contract must provide for the possibility of assignment by one of the initial contracting parties.
  • The assignor must agree to assign their rights and duties under the contract to the assignee.
  • The assignee must agree to accept, or "assume," those contractual rights and duties.
  • The other party to the initial contract must consent to the transfer of rights and obligations to the assignee.

A standard assignment and assumption contract is often a good starting point if you need to enter into an assignment and assumption agreement. However, for more complex situations, such as an assignment and amendment agreement in which several of the initial contract terms will be modified, or where only some, but not all, rights and duties will be assigned, it's a good idea to retain the services of an attorney who can help you draft an agreement that will meet all your needs.

When you're ready to enter into an assignment and assumption agreement, it's a good idea to have a firm grasp of the basics of assignment:

  • First, carefully read and understand the assignment and assumption provision in the initial contract. Contracts vary widely in their language on this topic, and each contract will have specific criteria that must be met in order for a valid assignment of rights to take place.
  • All parties to the agreement should carefully review the document to make sure they each know what they're agreeing to, and to help ensure that all important terms and conditions have been addressed in the agreement.
  • Until the agreement is signed by all the parties involved, the assignor will still be obligated for all responsibilities stated in the initial contract. If you are the assignor, you need to ensure that you continue with business as usual until the assignment and assumption agreement has been properly executed.

Unless you're dealing with a complex assignment situation, working with a template often is a good way to begin drafting an assignment and assumption agreement that will meet your needs. Generally speaking, your agreement should include the following information:

  • Identification of the existing agreement, including details such as the date it was signed and the parties involved, and the parties' rights to assign under this initial agreement
  • The effective date of the assignment and assumption agreement
  • Identification of the party making the assignment (the assignor), and a statement of their desire to assign their rights under the initial contract
  • Identification of the third party accepting the assignment (the assignee), and a statement of their acceptance of the assignment
  • Identification of the other initial party to the contract, and a statement of their consent to the assignment and assumption agreement
  • A section stating that the initial contract is continued; meaning, that, other than the change to the parties involved, all terms and conditions in the original contract stay the same

In addition to these sections that are specific to an assignment and assumption agreement, your contract should also include standard contract language, such as clauses about indemnification, future amendments, and governing law.

Sometimes circumstances change, and as a business owner you may find yourself needing to assign your rights and duties under a contract to another party. A properly drafted assignment and assumption agreement can help you make the transfer smoothly while, at the same time, preserving the cordiality of your initial business relationship under the original contract.

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Assignment of Contract (What It Is And How It Works: Best Overview)

what does an assignment of contract mean

Looking for Assignment of Contract ?

What is the assignment of a contract in simple terms?

How does it work?

In this article, I will break down the meaning of contract assignment so you know all there is to know about it!

Keep reading as I have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let me explain to you what assignment of contract means and why it matters!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

What Is Assignment of Contract

The assignment of contract refers to instances where one party to a contract transfers its rights and obligations to another party.

In other words, one contracting party exits the contract and another party steps in the exiting party’s shoes.

For instance, Mary and Joe are parties to a contract.

Joe assigns his rights and obligations under the contract to Tim.

The original contract now continues between Mary and Tim where Joe has stepped out.

The party assigning the contract is called the “assignor” and the third party stepping in to the assignor’s shoes is the “assignee”.

Be sure to keep reading as I will explain to you how the assignment works and it’s important that you know more about the assignor’s liability when assigning the contract.

Assignment Under Contract Law

Under contract law , the assignment of a contract is considered to include the assignment of rights and the delegation of the party’s duties to another.

This means that the assignor’s rights are passed on to the assignee.

In addition to that, the assignor’s duties under the contract are also assigned to the assignee.

Assignment Under Property Law

In property law, the assignment of contract generally takes place between landlords and tenants.

Typically, a person (the tenant) will sign a lease with another party (the landlord) to rent an apartment or premises.

If the tenant wishes to leave the premise without breaching the terms of the contract, an assignment may be an option.

In that case, the tenant will assign its rights and duties under the lease agreement to another party (a new tenant).

How Assignment of Contract Works

To better understand the assignment of contract, let’s look more closely at how it works.

Contract Assignment Clause

One of the first things you should consider when contemplating an assignment of a contract is to find the contract assignment clause in your contract.

In most commercial contracts, the parties will include an assignment clause governing the possible assignment by the parties.

Some contracts will authorize the assignment, others will limit assignment to specific situations, while some contracts entirely prohibit assignments.

Be sure to read the contract assignment to see how your contract regulates assignments.

Consent To Assignment of Contract

In most cases, a contracting party looking to assign the contract to another party will need to get the consent of the other contracting party.

If the staying party consents to the assignment, the assignor can proceed with the assignment of the agreement to a third party (or assignee).

However, if the staying party does not consent to the assignment, then the other party must remain in the contract and observe its contractual obligations.

Assignor’s Liability

Assigning a contract does not necessarily mean that the assignor will be released of all liability under the contract.

Depending on the assignment clause language, the assignor may have the right to assign the contract but continue to remain liable under the contract.

In the event the assignor may continue to remain liable under the contract, it’s important that an assignment agreement be signed where the staying party releases and discharges the assignor of future contract liability .

Assignment Enforceability

Under the assignment law, when a contract is assigned as per the terms of the contract, the assignment will be legally enforceable.

However, assignment contracts are not enforceable if the contract prohibits the assignment, the assignment agreement is not materially consistent with the obligations under the original contract, or the assignment violates public policy or the law in some way.

In addition, a contract cannot be assigned if the assignor is not formally in a contract.

There are also instances where the contract requires that a party with special skills or unique characteristics render the services or perform the obligations, and an assignment would not work.

Keep reading as I will now give you an example of contract assignment so you can see how it works in practice.

Contract Assignment Process

The actual contract assignment process is fairly straightforward for most contracts.

Contract Assignment Steps

Here are the steps you’ll need to take to assign a contract:

  • See if the contract has an assignment clause
  • Make sure that the assignment clause authorizes assignments 
  • If the assignment is authorized, follow the assignment logistic provided in the contract 
  • If the assignment is prohibited, you may want to speak to the other contracting party to see if you could get consent to assign the contract

In some cases, all you may need to do is to give notice of assignment to provide the details of the assignment if the contract allows for an assignment this way.

In other cases, you may want to have an assignment agreement signed by the staying party, the exiting party, and the third party detailing the terms and conditions of the assignment.

Assignment Agreement Content

When a contract assignment agreement is needed, you should make sure that you include all the right information for the assignment to be valid and enforceable.

In most cases, the assignment of the contract is simple where you may find an assignment of contract form online to complete.

For simple assignment contracts, here is the content that you should expect:

  • Identification of the parties (original contract parties and assignee)
  • Contract assignment effective date
  • Original contracting party’s consent to the assignment
  • Assignee’s acceptance of the assignment 
  • Assignor’s release and discharge of obligations going forward 
  • Governing law 
  • Signature block for the three parties 

Alternatives To Assignment Contracts

What are the alternatives to a contract assignment?

Here are the main alternatives to a contract assignment:

  • Novation 

Licensing refers to situations when a party authorizes another party to use a property or asset (whether tangible or intangible).

Delegation is when someone authorizes another to act on its behalf under a contract.

Novation is when a new party takes on a contracting party’s rights and obligations where the existing party’s rights are relinquished and all liability under the original contract wiped out.

Assignment of Contract vs Delegation of Contract

What is the difference between the assignment of a contract and the delegation of a contract?

The “assignment” of contract refers to a situation where one contracting party “transfers” the contract to a third party.

Once the assignment is completed, the assignor will no longer be in a contract with the other contracting party and the assignee will take the assignor’s place.

For example, Party A and Party B are part of a service contract.

Party B assigns the contract to Party C.

Going forward, the contract will be between Party A and Party C.

On the other hand, a delegation is when a party to a contract subcontracts parts of a contract to another party.

The party delegating the contract to another remains a contracting party and will remain responsible for the contract even though the obligations were delegated to another.

For example, a general contractor may delegate the plumbing work in a project to a plumber.

Although the general contractor has delegated part of the project to a subcontractor, it remains a contracting party and will remain responsible for the overall project.

Assignment of Contract Example

Let’s look at a few examples of when a contract may be assigned to another.

Assignment of Contract In Bankruptcy

You have entered into a contract with a company providing you with phone services.

The company goes bankrupt.

In the context of the bankruptcy, another phone company buys out a portion of the bankrupt’s book of business and your contract is in the pool of assets purchased.

The bankruptcy trustee assigns your contract from the bankrupt phone company to the new phone company.

Assignment of Contract In Real Estate

In real estate, some investors engage in assignment transactions where they do not actually buy the property but enter into a purchase contract that it then assigns to another.

In essence, the real estate investor enters into a real estate purchase agreement defining the terms and conditions relating to the purchase of a property.

Following the executing of the real estate purchase agreement and prior to the “closing” of the transaction, it assigns the contract to another party in an attempt to make a profit without ever actually owning the property.

Assignment of Contract In Corporate Restructuring

In the corporate world, companies tend to restructure their operations to ensure they are legally and operationally optimized.

In the context of a corporate restructuring transaction, a company may assign a contract to another entity within its group, a subsidiary, or an affiliate.

Assignment of Agreement Takeaways 

So there you have it folks!

What Does Assignment of Contract Mean

“Assignment of contract” is a legal term used to refer to situations where a party to an existing contract transfers its contractual obligations to another party.

Following the assignment , the assignee becomes responsible to execute the contractual obligations in favor of the party staying in the original contract.

If you are looking to assign a contract, you may want to consult with a qualified contract attorney who can assess your rights and obligations.

Keep in mind that a simple assignment of a contract does not necessarily mean that the assignor is released from liability under the original contract.

Now that you know what is an assignment of contract, how it works, and what it entails, good luck with your transaction!

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If you enjoyed this article on what is an assignment contract, I recommend you look into the following terms and concepts. Enjoy!

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Assignments: The Basic Law

The assignment of a right or obligation is a common contractual event under the law and the right to assign (or prohibition against assignments) is found in the majority of agreements, leases and business structural documents created in the United States.

As with many terms commonly used, people are familiar with the term but often are not aware or fully aware of what the terms entail. The concept of assignment of rights and obligations is one of those simple concepts with wide ranging ramifications in the contractual and business context and the law imposes severe restrictions on the validity and effect of assignment in many instances. Clear contractual provisions concerning assignments and rights should be in every document and structure created and this article will outline why such drafting is essential for the creation of appropriate and effective contracts and structures.

The reader should first read the article on Limited Liability Entities in the United States and Contracts since the information in those articles will be assumed in this article.

Basic Definitions and Concepts:

An assignment is the transfer of rights held by one party called the “assignor” to another party called the “assignee.” The legal nature of the assignment and the contractual terms of the agreement between the parties determines some additional rights and liabilities that accompany the assignment. The assignment of rights under a contract usually completely transfers the rights to the assignee to receive the benefits accruing under the contract. Ordinarily, the term assignment is limited to the transfer of rights that are intangible, like contractual rights and rights connected with property. Merchants Service Co. v. Small Claims Court , 35 Cal. 2d 109, 113-114 (Cal. 1950).

An assignment will generally be permitted under the law unless there is an express prohibition against assignment in the underlying contract or lease. Where assignments are permitted, the assignor need not consult the other party to the contract but may merely assign the rights at that time. However, an assignment cannot have any adverse effect on the duties of the other party to the contract, nor can it diminish the chance of the other party receiving complete performance. The assignor normally remains liable unless there is an agreement to the contrary by the other party to the contract.

The effect of a valid assignment is to remove privity between the assignor and the obligor and create privity between the obligor and the assignee. Privity is usually defined as a direct and immediate contractual relationship. See Merchants case above.

Further, for the assignment to be effective in most jurisdictions, it must occur in the present. One does not normally assign a future right; the assignment vests immediate rights and obligations.

No specific language is required to create an assignment so long as the assignor makes clear his/her intent to assign identified contractual rights to the assignee. Since expensive litigation can erupt from ambiguous or vague language, obtaining the correct verbiage is vital. An agreement must manifest the intent to transfer rights and can either be oral or in writing and the rights assigned must be certain.

Note that an assignment of an interest is the transfer of some identifiable property, claim, or right from the assignor to the assignee. The assignment operates to transfer to the assignee all of the rights, title, or interest of the assignor in the thing assigned. A transfer of all rights, title, and interests conveys everything that the assignor owned in the thing assigned and the assignee stands in the shoes of the assignor. Knott v. McDonald’s Corp ., 985 F. Supp. 1222 (N.D. Cal. 1997)

The parties must intend to effectuate an assignment at the time of the transfer, although no particular language or procedure is necessary. As long ago as the case of National Reserve Co. v. Metropolitan Trust Co ., 17 Cal. 2d 827 (Cal. 1941), the court held that in determining what rights or interests pass under an assignment, the intention of the parties as manifested in the instrument is controlling.

The intent of the parties to an assignment is a question of fact to be derived not only from the instrument executed by the parties but also from the surrounding circumstances. When there is no writing to evidence the intention to transfer some identifiable property, claim, or right, it is necessary to scrutinize the surrounding circumstances and parties’ acts to ascertain their intentions. Strosberg v. Brauvin Realty Servs., 295 Ill. App. 3d 17 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. 1998)

The general rule applicable to assignments of choses in action is that an assignment, unless there is a contract to the contrary, carries with it all securities held by the assignor as collateral to the claim and all rights incidental thereto and vests in the assignee the equitable title to such collateral securities and incidental rights. An unqualified assignment of a contract or chose in action, however, with no indication of the intent of the parties, vests in the assignee the assigned contract or chose and all rights and remedies incidental thereto.

More examples: In Strosberg v. Brauvin Realty Servs ., 295 Ill. App. 3d 17 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. 1998), the court held that the assignee of a party to a subordination agreement is entitled to the benefits and is subject to the burdens of the agreement. In Florida E. C. R. Co. v. Eno , 99 Fla. 887 (Fla. 1930), the court held that the mere assignment of all sums due in and of itself creates no different or other liability of the owner to the assignee than that which existed from the owner to the assignor.

And note that even though an assignment vests in the assignee all rights, remedies, and contingent benefits which are incidental to the thing assigned, those which are personal to the assignor and for his sole benefit are not assigned. Rasp v. Hidden Valley Lake, Inc ., 519 N.E.2d 153, 158 (Ind. Ct. App. 1988). Thus, if the underlying agreement provides that a service can only be provided to X, X cannot assign that right to Y.

Novation Compared to Assignment:

Although the difference between a novation and an assignment may appear narrow, it is an essential one. “Novation is a act whereby one party transfers all its obligations and benefits under a contract to a third party.” In a novation, a third party successfully substitutes the original party as a party to the contract. “When a contract is novated, the other contracting party must be left in the same position he was in prior to the novation being made.”

A sublease is the transfer when a tenant retains some right of reentry onto the leased premises. However, if the tenant transfers the entire leasehold estate, retaining no right of reentry or other reversionary interest, then the transfer is an assignment. The assignor is normally also removed from liability to the landlord only if the landlord consents or allowed that right in the lease. In a sublease, the original tenant is not released from the obligations of the original lease.

Equitable Assignments:

An equitable assignment is one in which one has a future interest and is not valid at law but valid in a court of equity. In National Bank of Republic v. United Sec. Life Ins. & Trust Co. , 17 App. D.C. 112 (D.C. Cir. 1900), the court held that to constitute an equitable assignment of a chose in action, the following has to occur generally: anything said written or done, in pursuance of an agreement and for valuable consideration, or in consideration of an antecedent debt, to place a chose in action or fund out of the control of the owner, and appropriate it to or in favor of another person, amounts to an equitable assignment. Thus, an agreement, between a debtor and a creditor, that the debt shall be paid out of a specific fund going to the debtor may operate as an equitable assignment.

In Egyptian Navigation Co. v. Baker Invs. Corp. , 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30804 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 14, 2008), the court stated that an equitable assignment occurs under English law when an assignor, with an intent to transfer his/her right to a chose in action, informs the assignee about the right so transferred.

An executory agreement or a declaration of trust are also equitable assignments if unenforceable as assignments by a court of law but enforceable by a court of equity exercising sound discretion according to the circumstances of the case. Since California combines courts of equity and courts of law, the same court would hear arguments as to whether an equitable assignment had occurred. Quite often, such relief is granted to avoid fraud or unjust enrichment.

Note that obtaining an assignment through fraudulent means invalidates the assignment. Fraud destroys the validity of everything into which it enters. It vitiates the most solemn contracts, documents, and even judgments. Walker v. Rich , 79 Cal. App. 139 (Cal. App. 1926). If an assignment is made with the fraudulent intent to delay, hinder, and defraud creditors, then it is void as fraudulent in fact. See our article on Transfers to Defraud Creditors .

But note that the motives that prompted an assignor to make the transfer will be considered as immaterial and will constitute no defense to an action by the assignee, if an assignment is considered as valid in all other respects.

Enforceability of Assignments:

Whether a right under a contract is capable of being transferred is determined by the law of the place where the contract was entered into. The validity and effect of an assignment is determined by the law of the place of assignment. The validity of an assignment of a contractual right is governed by the law of the state with the most significant relationship to the assignment and the parties.

In some jurisdictions, the traditional conflict of laws rules governing assignments has been rejected and the law of the place having the most significant contacts with the assignment applies. In Downs v. American Mut. Liability Ins. Co ., 14 N.Y.2d 266 (N.Y. 1964), a wife and her husband separated and the wife obtained a judgment of separation from the husband in New York. The judgment required the husband to pay a certain yearly sum to the wife. The husband assigned 50 percent of his future salary, wages, and earnings to the wife. The agreement authorized the employer to make such payments to the wife.

After the husband moved from New York, the wife learned that he was employed by an employer in Massachusetts. She sent the proper notice and demanded payment under the agreement. The employer refused and the wife brought an action for enforcement. The court observed that Massachusetts did not prohibit assignment of the husband’s wages. Moreover, Massachusetts law was not controlling because New York had the most significant relationship with the assignment. Therefore, the court ruled in favor of the wife.

Therefore, the validity of an assignment is determined by looking to the law of the forum with the most significant relationship to the assignment itself. To determine the applicable law of assignments, the court must look to the law of the state which is most significantly related to the principal issue before it.

Assignment of Contractual Rights:

Generally, the law allows the assignment of a contractual right unless the substitution of rights would materially change the duty of the obligor, materially increase the burden or risk imposed on the obligor by the contract, materially impair the chance of obtaining return performance, or materially reduce the value of the performance to the obligor. Restat 2d of Contracts, § 317(2)(a). This presumes that the underlying agreement is silent on the right to assign.

If the contract specifically precludes assignment, the contractual right is not assignable. Whether a contract is assignable is a matter of contractual intent and one must look to the language used by the parties to discern that intent.

In the absence of an express provision to the contrary, the rights and duties under a bilateral executory contract that does not involve personal skill, trust, or confidence may be assigned without the consent of the other party. But note that an assignment is invalid if it would materially alter the other party’s duties and responsibilities. Once an assignment is effective, the assignee stands in the shoes of the assignor and assumes all of assignor’s rights. Hence, after a valid assignment, the assignor’s right to performance is extinguished, transferred to assignee, and the assignee possesses the same rights, benefits, and remedies assignor once possessed. Robert Lamb Hart Planners & Architects v. Evergreen, Ltd. , 787 F. Supp. 753 (S.D. Ohio 1992).

On the other hand, an assignee’s right against the obligor is subject to “all of the limitations of the assignor’s right, all defenses thereto, and all set-offs and counterclaims which would have been available against the assignor had there been no assignment, provided that these defenses and set-offs are based on facts existing at the time of the assignment.” See Robert Lamb , case, above.

The power of the contract to restrict assignment is broad. Usually, contractual provisions that restrict assignment of the contract without the consent of the obligor are valid and enforceable, even when there is statutory authorization for the assignment. The restriction of the power to assign is often ineffective unless the restriction is expressly and precisely stated. Anti-assignment clauses are effective only if they contain clear, unambiguous language of prohibition. Anti-assignment clauses protect only the obligor and do not affect the transaction between the assignee and assignor.

Usually, a prohibition against the assignment of a contract does not prevent an assignment of the right to receive payments due, unless circumstances indicate the contrary. Moreover, the contracting parties cannot, by a mere non-assignment provision, prevent the effectual alienation of the right to money which becomes due under the contract.

A contract provision prohibiting or restricting an assignment may be waived, or a party may so act as to be estopped from objecting to the assignment, such as by effectively ratifying the assignment. The power to void an assignment made in violation of an anti-assignment clause may be waived either before or after the assignment. See our article on Contracts.

Noncompete Clauses and Assignments:

Of critical import to most buyers of businesses is the ability to ensure that key employees of the business being purchased cannot start a competing company. Some states strictly limit such clauses, some do allow them. California does restrict noncompete clauses, only allowing them under certain circumstances. A common question in those states that do allow them is whether such rights can be assigned to a new party, such as the buyer of the buyer.

A covenant not to compete, also called a non-competitive clause, is a formal agreement prohibiting one party from performing similar work or business within a designated area for a specified amount of time. This type of clause is generally included in contracts between employer and employee and contracts between buyer and seller of a business.

Many workers sign a covenant not to compete as part of the paperwork required for employment. It may be a separate document similar to a non-disclosure agreement, or buried within a number of other clauses in a contract. A covenant not to compete is generally legal and enforceable, although there are some exceptions and restrictions.

Whenever a company recruits skilled employees, it invests a significant amount of time and training. For example, it often takes years before a research chemist or a design engineer develops a workable knowledge of a company’s product line, including trade secrets and highly sensitive information. Once an employee gains this knowledge and experience, however, all sorts of things can happen. The employee could work for the company until retirement, accept a better offer from a competing company or start up his or her own business.

A covenant not to compete may cover a number of potential issues between employers and former employees. Many companies spend years developing a local base of customers or clients. It is important that this customer base not fall into the hands of local competitors. When an employee signs a covenant not to compete, he or she usually agrees not to use insider knowledge of the company’s customer base to disadvantage the company. The covenant not to compete often defines a broad geographical area considered off-limits to former employees, possibly tens or hundreds of miles.

Another area of concern covered by a covenant not to compete is a potential ‘brain drain’. Some high-level former employees may seek to recruit others from the same company to create new competition. Retention of employees, especially those with unique skills or proprietary knowledge, is vital for most companies, so a covenant not to compete may spell out definite restrictions on the hiring or recruiting of employees.

A covenant not to compete may also define a specific amount of time before a former employee can seek employment in a similar field. Many companies offer a substantial severance package to make sure former employees are financially solvent until the terms of the covenant not to compete have been met.

Because the use of a covenant not to compete can be controversial, a handful of states, including California, have largely banned this type of contractual language. The legal enforcement of these agreements falls on individual states, and many have sided with the employee during arbitration or litigation. A covenant not to compete must be reasonable and specific, with defined time periods and coverage areas. If the agreement gives the company too much power over former employees or is ambiguous, state courts may declare it to be overbroad and therefore unenforceable. In such case, the employee would be free to pursue any employment opportunity, including working for a direct competitor or starting up a new company of his or her own.

It has been held that an employee’s covenant not to compete is assignable where one business is transferred to another, that a merger does not constitute an assignment of a covenant not to compete, and that a covenant not to compete is enforceable by a successor to the employer where the assignment does not create an added burden of employment or other disadvantage to the employee. However, in some states such as Hawaii, it has also been held that a covenant not to compete is not assignable and under various statutes for various reasons that such covenants are not enforceable against an employee by a successor to the employer. Hawaii v. Gannett Pac. Corp. , 99 F. Supp. 2d 1241 (D. Haw. 1999)

It is vital to obtain the relevant law of the applicable state before drafting or attempting to enforce assignment rights in this particular area.

Conclusion:

In the current business world of fast changing structures, agreements, employees and projects, the ability to assign rights and obligations is essential to allow flexibility and adjustment to new situations. Conversely, the ability to hold a contracting party into the deal may be essential for the future of a party. Thus, the law of assignments and the restriction on same is a critical aspect of every agreement and every structure. This basic provision is often glanced at by the contracting parties, or scribbled into the deal at the last minute but can easily become the most vital part of the transaction.

As an example, one client of ours came into the office outraged that his co venturer on a sizable exporting agreement, who had excellent connections in Brazil, had elected to pursue another venture instead and assigned the agreement to a party unknown to our client and without the business contacts our client considered vital. When we examined the handwritten agreement our client had drafted in a restaurant in Sao Paolo, we discovered there was no restriction on assignment whatsoever…our client had not even considered that right when drafting the agreement after a full day of work.

One choses who one does business with carefully…to ensure that one’s choice remains the party on the other side of the contract, one must master the ability to negotiate proper assignment provisions.

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Assignment is a legal term whereby an individual, the “assignor,” transfers rights, property, or other benefits to another known as the “ assignee .”   This concept is used in both contract and property law.  The term can refer to either the act of transfer or the rights /property/benefits being transferred.

Contract Law   

Under contract law, assignment of a contract is both: (1) an assignment of rights; and (2) a delegation of duties , in the absence of evidence otherwise.  For example, if A contracts with B to teach B guitar for $50, A can assign this contract to C.  That is, this assignment is both: (1) an assignment of A’s rights under the contract to the $50; and (2) a delegation of A’s duty to teach guitar to C.  In this example, A is both the “assignor” and the “delegee” who d elegates the duties to another (C), C is known as the “ obligor ” who must perform the obligations to the assignee , and B is the “ assignee ” who is owed duties and is liable to the “ obligor ”.

(1) Assignment of Rights/Duties Under Contract Law

There are a few notable rules regarding assignments under contract law.  First, if an individual has not yet secured the contract to perform duties to another, he/she cannot assign his/her future right to an assignee .  That is, if A has not yet contracted with B to teach B guitar, A cannot assign his/her rights to C.  Second, rights cannot be assigned when they materially change the obligor ’s duty and rights.  Third, the obligor can sue the assignee directly if the assignee does not pay him/her.  Following the previous example, this means that C ( obligor ) can sue B ( assignee ) if C teaches guitar to B, but B does not pay C $50 in return.

            (2) Delegation of Duties

If the promised performance requires a rare genius or skill, then the delegee cannot delegate it to the obligor.  It can only be delegated if the promised performance is more commonplace.  Further, an obligee can sue if the assignee does not perform.  However, the delegee is secondarily liable unless there has been an express release of the delegee.  That is, if B does want C to teach guitar but C refuses to, then B can sue C.  If C still refuses to perform, then B can compel A to fulfill the duties under secondary liability.

Lastly, a related concept is novation , which is when a new obligor substitutes and releases an old obligor.  If novation occurs, then the original obligor’s duties are wiped out. However, novation requires an original obligee’s consent .  

Property Law

Under property law, assignment typically arises in landlord-tenant situations.  For example, A might be renting from landlord B but wants to another party (C) to take over the property.   In this scenario, A might be able to choose between assigning and subleasing the property to C.  If assigning , A would be giving C the entire balance of the term, with no reversion to anyone whereas if subleasing , A would be giving C for a limited period of the remaining term.  Significantly, under assignment C would have privity of estate with the landlord while under a sublease, C would not. 

[Last updated in May of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team ]

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How To Navigate The Real Estate Assignment Contract

what does an assignment of contract mean

What is assignment of contract?

Assignment of contract vs double close

How to assign a contract

Assignment of contract pros and cons

Even the most left-brained, technical real estate practitioners may find themselves overwhelmed by the legal forms that have become synonymous with the investing industry. The assignment of contract strategy, in particular, has developed a confusing reputation for those unfamiliar with the concept of wholesaling. At the very least, there’s a good chance the “assignment of contract real estate” exit strategy sounds more like a foreign language to new investors than a viable means to an end.

A real estate assignment contract isn’t as complicated as many make it out to be, nor is it something to shy away from because of a lack of understanding. Instead, new investors need to learn how to assign a real estate contract as this particular exit strategy represents one of the best ways to break into the industry.

In this article, we will break down the elements of a real estate assignment contract, or a real estate wholesale contract, and provide strategies for how it can help investors further their careers. [ Thinking about investing in real estate? Register to attend a FREE online real estate class and learn how to get started investing in real estate. ]

What Is A Real Estate Assignment Contract?

A real estate assignment contract is a wholesale strategy used by real estate investors to facilitate the sale of a property between an owner and an end buyer. As its name suggests, contract assignment strategies will witness a subject property owner sign a contract with an investor that gives them the rights to buy the home. That’s an important distinction to make, as the contract only gives the investor the right to buy the home; they don’t actually follow through on a purchase. Once under contract, however, the investor retains the sole right to buy the home. That means they may then sell their rights to buy the house to another buyer. Therefore, when a wholesaler executes a contact assignment, they aren’t selling a house but rather their rights to buy a house. The end buyer will pay the wholesale a small assignment fee and buy the house from the original buyer.

The real estate assignment contract strategy is only as strong as the contracts used in the agreement. The language used in the respective contract is of the utmost importance and should clearly define what the investors and sellers expect out of the deal.

There are a couple of caveats to keep in mind when considering using sales contracts for real estate:

Contract prohibitions: Make sure the contract you have with the property seller does not have prohibitions for future assignments. This can create serious issues down the road. Make sure the contract is drafted by a lawyer that specializes in real estate assignment contract law.

Property-specific prohibitions: HUD homes (property obtained by the Department of Housing and Urban Development), real estate owned or REOs (foreclosed-upon property), and listed properties are not open to assignment contracts. REO properties, for example, have a 90-day period before being allowed to be resold.

assignment fee

What Is An Assignment Fee In Real Estate?

An assignment fee in real estate is the money a wholesaler can expect to receive from an end buyer when they sell them their rights to buy the subject property. In other words, the assignment fee serves as the monetary compensation awarded to the wholesaler for connecting the original seller with the end buyer.

Again, any contract used to disclose a wholesale deal should be completely transparent, and including the assignment fee is no exception. The terms of how an investor will be paid upon assigning a contract should, nonetheless, be spelled out in the contract itself.

The standard assignment fee is $5,000. However, every deal is different. Buyers differ on their needs and criteria for spending their money (e.g., rehabbing vs. buy-and-hold buyers). As with any negotiations , proper information is vital. Take the time to find out how much the property would realistically cost before and after repairs. Then, add your preferred assignment fee on top of it.

Traditionally, investors will receive a deposit when they sign the Assignment of Real Estate Purchase and Sale Agreement . The rest of the assignment fee will be paid out upon the deal closing.

Assignment Contract Vs Double Close

The real estate assignment contract strategy is just one of the two methods investors may use to wholesale a deal. In addition to assigning contracts, investors may also choose to double close. While both strategies are essentially variations of a wholesale deal, several differences must be noted.

A double closing, otherwise known as a back-to-back closing, will have investors actually purchase the home. However, instead of holding onto it, they will immediately sell the asset without rehabbing it. Double closings aren’t as traditional as fast as contract assignment, but they can be in the right situation. Double closings can also take as long as a few weeks. In the end, double closings aren’t all that different from a traditional buy and sell; they transpire over a meeter of weeks instead of months.

Assignment real estate strategies are usually the first option investors will want to consider, as they are slightly easier and less involved. That said, real estate assignment contract methods aren’t necessarily better; they are just different. The wholesale strategy an investor chooses is entirely dependent on their situation. For example, if a buyer cannot line up funding fast enough, they may need to initiate a double closing because they don’t have the capital to pay the acquisition costs and assignment fee. Meanwhile, select institutional lenders incorporate language against lending money in an assignment of contract scenario. Therefore, any subsequent wholesale will need to be an assignment of contract.

Double closings and contract assignments are simply two means of obtaining the same end. Neither is better than the other; they are meant to be used in different scenarios.

Flipping Real Estate Contracts

Those unfamiliar with the real estate contract assignment concept may know it as something else: flipping real estate contracts; if for nothing else, the two are one-in-the-same. Flipping real estate contracts is simply another way to refer to assigning a contract.

Is An Assignment Of Contract Legal?

Yes, an assignment of contract is legal when executed correctly. Wholesalers must follow local laws regulating the language of contracts, as some jurisdictions have more regulations than others. It is also becoming increasingly common to assign contracts to a legal entity or LLC rather than an individual, to prevent objections from the bank. Note that you will need written consent from all parties listed on the contract, and there cannot be any clauses present that violate the law. If you have any questions about the specific language to include in a contract, it’s always a good idea to consult a qualified real estate attorney.

When Will Assignments Not Be Enforced?

In certain cases, an assignment of contract will not be enforced. Most notably, if the contract violates the law or any local regulations it cannot be enforced. This is why it is always encouraged to understand real estate laws and policy as soon as you enter the industry. Further, working with a qualified attorney when crafting contracts can be beneficial.

It may seem obvious, but assignment contracts will not be enforced if the language is used incorrectly. If the language in a contract contradicts itself, or if the contract is not legally binding it cannot be enforced. Essentially if there is any anti-assignment language, this can void the contract. Finally, if the assignment violates what is included under the contract, for example by devaluing the item, the contract will likely not be enforced.

How To Assign A Real Estate Contract

A wholesaling investment strategy that utilizes assignment contracts has many advantages, one of them being a low barrier-to-entry for investors. However, despite its inherent profitability, there are a lot of investors that underestimate the process. While probably the easiest exit strategy in all of real estate investing, there are a number of steps that must be taken to ensure a timely and profitable contract assignment, not the least of which include:

Find the right property

Acquire a real estate contract template

Submit the contract

Assign the contract

Collect the fee

1. Find The Right Property

You need to prune your leads, whether from newspaper ads, online marketing, or direct mail marketing. Remember, you aren’t just looking for any seller: you need a motivated seller who will sell their property at a price that works with your investing strategy.

The difference between a regular seller and a motivated seller is the latter’s sense of urgency. A motivated seller wants their property sold now. Pick a seller who wants to be rid of their property in the quickest time possible. It could be because they’re moving out of state, or they want to buy another house in a different area ASAP. Or, they don’t want to live in that house anymore for personal reasons. The key is to know their motivation for selling and determine if that intent is enough to sell immediately.

With a better idea of who to buy from, wholesalers will have an easier time exercising one of several marketing strategies:

Direct Mail

Real Estate Meetings

Local Marketing

2. Acquire A Real Estate Contract Template

Real estate assignment contract templates are readily available online. Although it’s tempting to go the DIY route, it’s generally advisable to let a lawyer see it first. This way, you will have the comfort of knowing you are doing it right, and that you have counsel in case of any legal problems along the way.

One of the things proper wholesale real estate contracts add is the phrase “and/or assigns” next to your name. This clause will give you the authority to sell the property or assign the property to another buyer.

You do need to disclose this to the seller and explain the clause if needed. Assure them that they will still get the amount you both agreed upon, but it gives you deal flexibility down the road.

3. Submit The Contract

Depending on your state’s laws, you need to submit your real estate assignment contract to a title company, or a closing attorney, for a title search. These are independent parties that look into the history of a property, seeing that there are no liens attached to the title. They then sign off on the validity of the contract.

4. Assign The Contract

Finding your buyer, similar to finding a seller, requires proper segmentation. When searching for buyers, investors should exercise several avenues, including online marketing, listing websites, or networking groups. In the real estate industry, this process is called building a buyer’s list, and it is a crucial step to finding success in assigning contracts.

Once you have found a buyer (hopefully from your ever-growing buyer’s list), ensure your contract includes language that covers earnest money to be paid upfront. This grants you protection against a possible breach of contract. This also assures you that you will profit, whether the transaction closes or not, as earnest money is non-refundable. How much it is depends on you, as long as it is properly justified.

5. Collect The Fee

Your profit from a deal of this kind comes from both your assignment fee, as well as the difference between the agreed-upon value and how much you sell it to the buyer. If you and the seller decide you will buy the property for $75,000 and sell it for $80,000 to the buyer, you profit $5,000. The deal is closed once the buyer pays the full $80,000.

real estate assignment contract

Assignment of Contract Pros

For many investors, the most attractive benefit of an assignment of contract is the ability to profit without ever purchasing a property. This is often what attracts people to start wholesaling, as it allows many to learn the ropes of real estate with relatively low stakes. An assignment fee can either be determined as a percentage of the purchase price or as a set amount determined by the wholesaler. A standard fee is around $5,000 per contract.

The profit potential is not the only positive associated with an assignment of contract. Investors also benefit from not being added to the title chain, which can greatly reduce the costs and timeline associated with a deal. This benefit can even transfer to the seller and end buyer, as they get to avoid paying a real estate agent fee by opting for an assignment of contract. Compared to a double close (another popular wholesaling strategy), investors can avoid two sets of closing costs. All of these pros can positively impact an investor’s bottom line, making this a highly desirable exit strategy.

Assignment of Contract Cons

Although there are numerous perks to an assignment of contract, there are a few downsides to be aware of before searching for your first wholesale deal. Namely, working with buyers and sellers who may not be familiar with wholesaling can be challenging. Investors need to be prepared to familiarize newcomers with the process and be ready to answer any questions. Occasionally, sellers will purposely not accept an assignment of contract situation. Investors should occasionally expect this, as to not get discouraged.

Another obstacle wholesalers may face when working with an assignment of contract is in cases where the end buyer wants to back out. This can happen if the buyer is not comfortable paying the assignment fee, or if they don’t have owner’s rights until the contract is fully assigned. The best way to protect yourself from situations like this is to form a reliable buyer’s list and be upfront with all of the information. It is always recommended to develop a solid contract as well.

Know that not all properties can be wholesaled, for example HUD houses. In these cases, there are often anti-assigned clauses preventing wholesalers from getting involved. Make sure you know how to identify these properties so you don’t waste your time. Keep in mind that while there are cons to this real estate exit strategy, the right preparation can help investors avoid any big challenges.

Assignment of Contract Template

If you decide to pursue a career wholesaling real estate, then you’ll want the tools that will make your life as easy as possible. The good news is that there are plenty of real estate tools and templates at your disposal so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel! For instance, here is an assignment of contract template that you can use when you strike your first deal.

As with any part of the real estate investing trade, no single aspect will lead to success. However, understanding how a real estate assignment of contract works is vital for this business. When you comprehend the many layers of how contracts are assigned—and how wholesaling works from beginning to end—you’ll be a more informed, educated, and successful investor.

Click the banner below to take a 90-minute online training class and get started learning how to invest in today’s real estate market!

what does an assignment of contract mean

Wholetailing: A Guide For Real Estate Investors

What is chain of title in real estate investing, what is a real estate fund of funds (fof), reits vs real estate: which is the better investment, multi-family vs. single-family property investments: a comprehensive guide, what is reverse wholesaling: a guide for real estate investors.

Hall Ellis Solicitors

assignment of contract rights, novation and assignment clauses

Assignment of contract rights .

There is no such thing as an assignment of a contract.

It was held in Linden Gardens Trust Ltd v Lenesta Sludge Disposals Ltd  1993 UKHL 4 (22 July 1993):

It is trite law that it is, in any event, impossible to assign "the contract" as a whole, i.e. including both burden and benefit. The burden of a contract can never be assigned without the consent of the other party to the contract in which event such consent will give rise to a novation. Although it is true that the phrase "assign this contract" is not strictly accurate, lawyers frequently use those words inaccurately to describe an assignment of the benefit of a contract since every lawyer knows that the burden of a contract cannot be assigned.

In short, contracts are not assigned:

  • ownership of assets is assigned.
  • Contractual rights are transferred. They're novated.

So when it comes to “assigning” (ie transferring or novating) contracts, there are 3 possibilities:

  • Transfer all or part of the burden of the contract to another person. This is novation
  • Assign all or part of the benefit of the contract to another person
  • Transfer the whole of the benefit and the burden to another person. This is also novation.

The general law does not require any particular formality to novation.

Where a supplier notifies a contracting partner that they will be replaced by another supplier, and then starts to receive supply from the new supplier without objection or complaint, there's a good chance the contract has been novated.

That's acceptance of a new contract (and termination of the old contract) by conduct.

When businesses enter administration or liquidation, potential purchasers might express an interest in “acquiring the contracts” of the business. That requires novation of each contract, individually.

Novation is a fundamental principle of contract law, and is closely related to privity of contract . It's pretty difficult to understand one without the other.

What do "Assignment Clauses" in Contract do then?

Assignment clauses either:

  • confirm the general operation of the law - ie no transfers of contractual rights. It expressly prohibits or enables transfers of the burden or the benefit of the contract.
  • displace or override the general rule of law of novation, in favour of one party or both parties.

Do you need one or not?  That depends.

Context of Assignment Clauses

Contracts impose strict liability on the contracting parties to perform their legal obligations. 

It means this: if a seller does not perform what they are required to do under the contract to the standard fixed by the contract, they’re in breach of contract , and liable to make good on a legal remedy for breach.  Likewise, if a buyer does not do what they are legally required to do, they’re in breach of contract, and facing the same consequences .

For example, take a company supplying SaaS related services:

The SaaS supplier hosts its SaaS solution in the cloud for its customers.  The SaaS supplier doesn't own its own infrastructure for the hosting. It subcontracts the hosting to a dedicated hosting company, such as Rackspace. That subcontracting doesn't relieve the SaaS supplier from its obligations to perform the contract: in this example, host the SaaS solution in the cloud to its own customers. Using Rackspace to host the SaaS solution is just a delegation of the contractual duty of the SaaS supplier to provide services to the customer. If the hosting fails, the SaaS supplier is liable to its customers for the breach of contract. Not Rackspace.

Assignment clauses permit transfer of contractual obligations to perform the burden of the contract to third parties. So, where the obligation to perform is assigned to a third party and it's not performed, it will be the party that has taken over the burden of the contract (ie the assignee) that will be liable to the customer. Not the original contracting party (which would be the SaaS supplier in the example above).

The end result is that one of the original contracting parties is no longer a party to the contract: that’s novation. 

Example: Assignment Clause

A boilerplate provision to prevent assignment of the benefit and burden in a contract might be:

Neither party may without the prior written consent of the other party assign a benefit or obligation imposed in this Agreement.

The reference to “obligation” is usually redundant, because it can't be transferred without the consent of the other party in the first place.

Contract Assignments vs Subcontracting

Assignment clauses shouldn't be confused with subcontracting clauses .

The general law provides that a contracting party is entitled to subcontract works to a third person, unless there is a contractual restriction preventing it.

It would be quite a mistake to regard that as an "assignment" of the obligations under the contract.

It isn't a transfer of the contract, or any part of the burden of the contract.

It's a delegation .

Subcontracting performance of contractual obligations:

  • is permitted where personal performance is not required to produce the result intended by the contract
  • means performance by the subcontractor will discharge the principal contracting party's obligations.
  • The principal contracting party remains liable if the subcontractor does not complete performance on behalf of the principal contracting party. 
  • Boilerplate Clauses
  • Who are you actually contracting with? Separate Legal Entities
  • Increasing Liability for Breach of Contract: Indemnities 

Contract Law Solicitors

Contract law can be tricky. Sometimes it's matter of seeing what has happened before when parties have tried to transfer a contract to ascertain what is likely to happen in the case at hand.

Transferring contract rights and obligations can be a serious business. Getting it wrong can mean a party is in breach of contract,  leading to termination and damages claims. 

If you're in business and need legal advice on a contract, call +44 20 7036 9282 to speak for an initial chat with one of our contract law solicitors or email your enquiry to [email protected] .

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Consent to Assignment: Everything You Need to Know

Consent to assignment refers to allowing a party of a contract (the assignor) to assign a contract and move the obligations to another party (the assignee). 3 min read updated on February 01, 2023

Consent to assignment refers to allowing a party of a contract to assign a contract and move the obligations to another party. The party of the existing contract, known as the assignor, will pass on the contract to another party, known as the assignee. The goal is for the assignee to take over the rights and obligations of the contract. For a contract to be assigned, the other party must be aware of what is happening.

Contract Assignments

The assignment of a contract differs depending on the type of contract and the language in the original agreement. Some contracts contain a clause that doesn't allow assignment at all, while other contracts have clauses that require the other party to consent before assignment can be finalized.

Consider the following scenario. A business owner contracts with a computer company to have a processor delivered every time a new model is released. The computer company assigns the business owner's contract to another provider. As long as the business owner is aware of the changes and still receives the processors as scheduled, his contract is now with the new computer company.

However, assigning a contract doesn't always exempt the assignor from their duties and responsibilities. Some contracts include a clause that states that even if the agreement is assigned to another party, the original parties guarantee that the terms of the contract will be fulfilled.

Unenforceable Assignments

There are a number of situations where a contract assignment won't be enforced , including:

  • The contract has an anti-assignment clause that can stop or invalidate any assignments.
  • The assignment changes the nature of the contract. An assignment that changes what is expected or impacts the performance of the contract isn't allowed. This also applies if the assignment lowers the value one party will receive or adds risk to the deal that the other party didn't originally agree to.
  • The assignment is against the law. In some cases, laws or public policies don't allow assignment. Many states forbid employees to assign future wages. The federal government doesn't allow the assignment of particular claims against the government. Some assignments violate public policy. For example, a personal injury claim cannot be assigned because it could lead to litigation against a party who was not responsible for the injury.

Delegation vs. Assignment

It is common for a party to sign a contract and have someone else actually fulfill his duties and do the work required by the contract. However, some contracts can't be delegated, such as when a party agrees to service done by a particular person or company. If a company contracted with Oprah Winfrey to be a keynote speaker, Oprah wouldn't be permitted to delegate her performance duties to anyone else.

If both parties agree that the work can't be delegated, they should include specific language in the original contract. This can be as simple as a clause that states, “Neither party shall delegate or assign its rights.” Both parties should agree to this clause.

How to Assign a Contract

Assigning a contract is a three-step process. First, check to see if the contract has an anti-assignment clause or if there are limitations around assignments. Sometimes clauses are straightforward with language like, “This agreement may not be assigned,” and while other times, the language is less obvious and hidden in another clause. If there is language in the contract that states it can't be assigned, the other party must consent to an assignment before you can proceed.

Second, the parties must execute an assignment . Create an agreement that transfers the rights and obligations of one party to the assignee.

Third, notify the other party of the contract. Once the contract rights have been assigned to the new party, you should notify the other party of the original contract. Providing written notice removes you from being responsible for any part of the contract unless there is language in the contract that says differently or the assignment is illegal.

Anti-Assignment Clause

As you are negotiating and writing a contract, consider whether you want the contract to be able to be assigned. If you don't want assignment to be a legally viable option, that needs to be clearly stated in the contract.

If you need help with consent to assignment, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.

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Assignment: Definition in Finance, How It Works, and Examples

Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

what does an assignment of contract mean

Yarilet Perez is an experienced multimedia journalist and fact-checker with a Master of Science in Journalism. She has worked in multiple cities covering breaking news, politics, education, and more. Her expertise is in personal finance and investing, and real estate.

what does an assignment of contract mean

What Is an Assignment?

Assignment most often refers to one of two definitions in the financial world:

  • The transfer of an individual's rights or property to another person or business. This concept exists in a variety of business transactions and is often spelled out contractually.
  • In trading, assignment occurs when an option contract is exercised. The owner of the contract exercises the contract and assigns the option writer to an obligation to complete the requirements of the contract.

Key Takeaways

  • Assignment is a transfer of rights or property from one party to another.
  • Options assignments occur when option buyers exercise their rights to a position in a security.
  • Other examples of assignments can be found in wages, mortgages, and leases.

Uses For Assignments

Assignment refers to the transfer of some or all property rights and obligations associated with an asset, property, contract, or other asset of value. to another entity through a written agreement.

Assignment rights happen every day in many different situations. A payee, like a utility or a merchant, assigns the right to collect payment from a written check to a bank. A merchant can assign the funds from a line of credit to a manufacturing third party that makes a product that the merchant will eventually sell. A trademark owner can transfer, sell, or give another person interest in the trademark or logo. A homeowner who sells their house assigns the deed to the new buyer.

To be effective, an assignment must involve parties with legal capacity, consideration, consent, and legality of the object.

A wage assignment is a forced payment of an obligation by automatic withholding from an employee’s pay. Courts issue wage assignments for people late with child or spousal support, taxes, loans, or other obligations. Money is automatically subtracted from a worker's paycheck without consent if they have a history of nonpayment. For example, a person delinquent on $100 monthly loan payments has a wage assignment deducting the money from their paycheck and sent to the lender. Wage assignments are helpful in paying back long-term debts.

Another instance can be found in a mortgage assignment. This is where a mortgage deed gives a lender interest in a mortgaged property in return for payments received. Lenders often sell mortgages to third parties, such as other lenders. A mortgage assignment document clarifies the assignment of contract and instructs the borrower in making future mortgage payments, and potentially modifies the mortgage terms.

A final example involves a lease assignment. This benefits a relocating tenant wanting to end a lease early or a landlord looking for rent payments to pay creditors. Once the new tenant signs the lease, taking over responsibility for rent payments and other obligations, the previous tenant is released from those responsibilities. In a separate lease assignment, a landlord agrees to pay a creditor through an assignment of rent due under rental property leases. The agreement is used to pay a mortgage lender if the landlord defaults on the loan or files for bankruptcy . Any rental income would then be paid directly to the lender.

Options Assignment

Options can be assigned when a buyer decides to exercise their right to buy (or sell) stock at a particular strike price . The corresponding seller of the option is not determined when a buyer opens an option trade, but only at the time that an option holder decides to exercise their right to buy stock. So an option seller with open positions is matched with the exercising buyer via automated lottery. The randomly selected seller is then assigned to fulfill the buyer's rights. This is known as an option assignment.

Once assigned, the writer (seller) of the option will have the obligation to sell (if a call option ) or buy (if a put option ) the designated number of shares of stock at the agreed-upon price (the strike price). For instance, if the writer sold calls they would be obligated to sell the stock, and the process is often referred to as having the stock called away . For puts, the buyer of the option sells stock (puts stock shares) to the writer in the form of a short-sold position.

Suppose a trader owns 100 call options on company ABC's stock with a strike price of $10 per share. The stock is now trading at $30 and ABC is due to pay a dividend shortly. As a result, the trader exercises the options early and receives 10,000 shares of ABC paid at $10. At the same time, the other side of the long call (the short call) is assigned the contract and must deliver the shares to the long.

what does an assignment of contract mean

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Assignment of Lease

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What is an assignment of lease.

The assignment of lease is a title document that transfers all rights possessed by a lessee or tenant to a property to another party. The assignee takes the assignor’s place in the landlord-tenant relationship.

You can view an example of a lease assignment here .

How Lease Assignment Works

In cases where a tenant wants to or needs to get out of their lease before it expires, lease assignment provides a legal option to assign or transfer rights of the lease to someone else. For instance, if in a commercial lease a business leases a place for 12 months but the business moves or shuts down after 10 months, the person can transfer the lease to someone else through an assignment of the lease. In this case, they will not have to pay rent for the last two months as the new assigned tenant will be responsible for that.

However, before the original tenant can be released of any responsibilities associated with the lease, other requirements need to be satisfied. The landlord needs to consent to the lease transfer through a “License to Assign” document. It is crucial to complete this document before moving on to the assignment of lease as the landlord may refuse to approve the assignment.

Difference Between Assignment of Lease and Subletting

A transfer of the remaining interest in a lease, also known as assignment, is possible when implied rights to assign exist. Some leases do not allow assignment or sharing of possessions or property under a lease. An assignment ensures the complete transfer of the rights to the property from one tenant to another.

The assignor is no longer responsible for rent or utilities and other costs that they might have had under the lease. Here, the assignee becomes the tenant and takes over all responsibilities such as rent. However, unless the assignee is released of all liabilities by the landlord, they remain responsible if the new tenant defaults.

A sublease is a new lease agreement between the tenant (or the sublessor) and a third-party (or the sublessee) for a portion of the lease. The original lease agreement between the landlord and the sublessor (or original tenant) still remains in place. The original tenant still remains responsible for all duties set under the lease.

Here are some key differences between subletting and assigning a lease:

  • Under a sublease, the original lease agreement still remains in place.
  • The original tenant retains all responsibilities under a sublease agreement.
  • A sublease can be for less than all of the property, such as for a room, general area, portion of the leased premises, etc.
  • Subleasing can be for a portion of the lease term. For instance, a tenant can sublease the property for a month and then retain it after the third-party completes their month-long sublet.
  • Since the sublease agreement is between the tenant and the third-party, rent is often negotiable, based on the term of the sublease and other circumstances.
  • The third-party in a sublease agreement does not have a direct relationship with the landlord.
  • The subtenant will need to seek consent of both the tenant and the landlord to make any repairs or changes to the property during their sublease.

Here is more on an assignment of lease here .

what does an assignment of contract mean

Benjamin W.

what does an assignment of contract mean

Parties Involved in Lease Assignment

There are three parties involved in a lease assignment – the landlord or owner of the property, the assignor and the assignee. The original lease agreement is between the landlord and the tenant, or the assignor. The lease agreement outlines the duties and responsibilities of both parties when it comes to renting the property. Now, when the tenant decides to assign the lease to a third-party, the third-party is known as the assignee. The assignee takes on the responsibilities laid under the original lease agreement between the assignor and the landlord. The landlord must consent to the assignment of the lease prior to the assignment.

For example, Jake is renting a commercial property for his business from Paul for two years beginning January 2013 up until January 2015. In January 2014, Jake suffers a financial crisis and has to close down his business to move to a different city. Jake doesn’t want to continue paying rent on the property as he will not be using it for a year left of the lease. Jake’s friend, John would soon be turning his digital business into a brick-and-mortar store. John has been looking for a space to kick start his venture. Jake can assign his space for the rest of the lease term to John through an assignment of lease. Jake will need to seek the approval of his landlord and then begin the assignment process. Here, Jake will be the assignor who transfers all his lease related duties and responsibilities to John, who will be the assignee.

You can read more on lease agreements here .

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Assignment of Lease From Seller to Buyer

In case of a residential property, a landlord can assign his leases to the new buyer of the building. The landlord will assign the right to collect rent to the buyer. This will allow the buyer to collect any and all rent from existing tenants in that property. This assignment can also include the assignment of security deposits, if the parties agree to it. This type of assignment provides protection to the buyer so they can collect rent on the property.

The assignment of a lease from the seller to a buyer also requires that all tenants are made aware of the sale of the property. The buyer-seller should give proper notice to the tenants along with a notice of assignment of lease signed by both the buyer and the seller. Tenants should also be informed about the contact information of the new landlord and the payment methods to be used to pay rent to the new landlord.

You can read more on buyer-seller lease assignments here .

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Steven Stark has more than 35 years of experience in business and commercial law representing start-ups as well as large and small companies spanning a wide variety of industries. Steven has provided winning strategies, valuable advice, and highly effective counsel on legal issues in the areas of Business Entity Formation and Organization, Drafting Key Business Contracts, Trademark and Copyright Registration, Independent Contractor Relationships, and Website Compliance, including Terms and Privacy Policies. Steven has also served as General Counsel for companies providing software development, financial services, digital marketing, and eCommerce platforms. Steven’s tactical business and client focused approach to drafting contracts, polices and corporate documents results in favorable outcomes at a fraction of the typical legal cost to his clients. Steven received his Juris Doctor degree at New York Law School and his Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Hofstra University.

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Rhea de Aenlle is a business-savvy attorney with extensive experience in Privacy & Data Security (CIPP/US, CIPP/E), GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, FERPA, Intellectual Property, and Commercial Contracts. She has over 25 years of legal experience as an in-house counsel, AM Law 100 firm associate, and a solo practice attorney. Rhea works with start-up and midsize technology companies.

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I’m planning on leasing land from a church. Putting a gym on the property. And leasing it back to the school.

what does an assignment of contract mean

Ok; first step is that you will need a leasing contract with the church. Ask them to prepare one for you so you would just need an attorney to review the agreement and that should cost less than if you had to be the party to pay a lawyer to draft it from scratch. You need to ensure that the purpose of the lease is clearly stated - that you plan to put a gym on the land so that there are no issues if the church leadership changes. Step 2 - you will need a lease agreement with the school that your leasing it do (hopefully one that is similar to the original one your received from the church). Again, please ensure that all the terms that you discuss and agree to are in the document; including length of time, price and how to resolve disputes if you have one. I hope this is helpful. If you would like me to assist you further, you can contact me on Contracts Counsel and we can discuss a fee for my services. Regards, Donya Ramsay (Gordon)

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IMAGES

  1. FREE 6+ Sample Assignment of Contract Templates in PDF

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  2. Sample Printable ASSIGNMENT OF CONTRACT Forms Template 2023

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  3. assignment contract Doc Template

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  4. Free Assignment Of Contract Form

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  5. What Is An Assignment Of Contract In Real Estate?

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  6. Free Purchase Contract Assignment Form

    what does an assignment of contract mean

COMMENTS

  1. Assignment of Contract: What Is It? How It Works

    An assignment of contract is a legal term that describes the process that occurs when the original party (assignor) transfers their rights and obligations under their contract to a third party (assignee).

  2. What Is an Assignment of Contract?

    An assignment of contract occurs when one party to an existing contract (the "assignor") hands off the contract's obligations and benefits to another party (the "assignee"). Ideally, the assignor wants the assignee to step into his shoes and assume all of his contractual obligations and rights.

  3. What Is an Assignment of Contract?

    Assignment of contract allows one person to assign, or transfer, their rights, obligations, or property to another. An assignment of contract clause is often included in contracts to give either party the opportunity to transfer their part of the contract to someone else in the future.

  4. Understanding an assignment and assumption agreement

    An assignment and assumption agreement is used after a contract is signed, in order to transfer one of the contracting party's rights and obligations to a third party who was not originally a party to the contract. The party making the assignment is called the assignor, while the third party accepting the assignment is known as the assignee.

  5. Assignment of Contract (What It Is And How It Works: Best Overview)

    The assignment of contract refers to instances where one party to a contract transfers its rights and obligations to another party. In other words, one contracting party exits the contract and another party steps in the exiting party's shoes. For instance, Mary and Joe are parties to a contract.

  6. Assignability Of Contracts: Everything You Need to Know

    The assignability of contracts is when one side of a contract agreement transfers the contract to another entity, so that the new entity fulfills the terms of the contract. Being able to assign contracts depends on a variety of factors, mainly the language contained in the contract. How Contract Assignments Work

  7. Assignment of Contract Rights: Everything You Need to Know

    The assignment of contract rights happens when one party assigns the obligations and rights of their part of a legal agreement to a different party. What Is an Assignment of Contract?

  8. The Process of Assigning a Contract

    When you assign a contract, you transfer your rights and obligations to a third party. Learn how assignment works, including the rules on when it is and isn't allowed. Updated by Brian Farkas, Attorney (Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law) | Updated by Glen Secor, Attorney Updated: Aug 23rd, 2022

  9. Assignment Of Contracts

    Assignment of contracts is the legal transfer of the obligations and benefits of a contract from one party, called the assignor, to another, called the assignee. The assignor must properly notify the assignee so that he or she can take over the contractual rights and obligations.

  10. How Is a Contract Assigned?

    If you are not prohibited from assigning the contract, prepare and enter into an assignment of contract: an agreement that transfers the parties' rights and obligations. Step 3: Provide notice to the obligor.

  11. What Is An Assignment Of Contract In Real Estate?

    The assignment of contract is a straightforward method where an investor transfers their rights in a property contract to a buyer, profiting from the difference between their purchase price and the selling price. Essentially, this process involves securing a property under contract and then assigning that contract to an end buyer.

  12. Assignments: The Basic Law

    An assignment is the transfer of rights held by one party called the "assignor" to another party called the "assignee." The legal nature of the assignment and the contractual terms of the agreement between the parties determines some additional rights and liabilities that accompany the assignment.

  13. assignment

    Property Law Under property law, assignment typically arises in landlord-tenant situations. For example, A might be renting from landlord B but wants to another party (C) to take over the property. In this scenario, A might be able to choose between assigning and subleasing the property to C.

  14. Assignment Clause: Meaning & Samples (2022)

    Assignment clauses are legally binding provisions in contracts that give a party the chance to engage in a transfer of ownership or assign their contractual obligations and rights to a different contracting party. In other words, an assignment clause can reassign contracts to another party.

  15. Assigning a contract

    An assignment ends one party's involvement in the contract and transfers all of their contractual rights, benefits and interests to a new party . How does the assignment take place?

  16. What is assignment in contract law?

    In business contracts, assignment refers to transferring an agreement's rights, obligations, and property to another party. For example, most commercial tenancy agreements include a clause allowing the tenant to assign their lease to a third party, and that third party becomes the new tenant.

  17. A Guide to Assignment of Contract in Real Estate

    Assignment of contract involves one party transferring the rights of a real estate purchase agreement to another party. This real estate investing strategy can involve time and financial pressure, but the assignor can potentially make a quick buck.

  18. Assignment of Contract In Real Estate Made Simple

    The terms of how an investor will be paid upon assigning a contract should, nonetheless, be spelled out in the contract itself. The standard assignment fee is $5,000. However, every deal is different. Buyers differ on their needs and criteria for spending their money (e.g., rehabbing vs. buy-and-hold buyers).

  19. assignment of contract rights, novation and assignment clauses

    Context of Assignment Clauses. Contracts impose strict liability on the contracting parties to perform their legal obligations. It means this: if a seller does not perform what they are required to do under the contract to the standard fixed by the contract, they're in breach of contract, and liable to make good on a legal remedy for breach.

  20. Consent to Assignment: Everything You Need to Know

    The assignment changes the nature of the contract. An assignment that changes what is expected or impacts the performance of the contract isn't allowed. This also applies if the assignment lowers the value one party will receive or adds risk to the deal that the other party didn't originally agree to. The assignment is against the law.

  21. Assignment (law)

    Assignment [1] is a legal term used in the context of the laws of contract and of property. In both instances, assignment is the process whereby a person, the assignor, transfers rights or benefits to another, the assignee. [2] An assignment may not transfer a duty, burden or detriment without the express agreement of the assignee.

  22. Assignment: Definition in Finance, How It Works, and Examples

    Assignment: An assignment is the transfer of an individual's rights or property to another person or business. For example, when an option contract is assigned, an option writer has an obligation ...

  23. Assignment of Lease: Definition & How They Work (2023)

    The assignment of lease is a title document that transfers all rights possessed by a lessee or tenant to a property to another party. The assignee takes the assignor's place in the landlord-tenant relationship. You can view an example of a lease assignment here .