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Changes to the laws on Agricultural Holdings

May 27th 2021

Changes to the laws on Agricultural Holdings come into force on 21 June 2021, allowing tenants to demand changes to their tenancy or consent from their landlord, where the landlord will not agree.

Jonathan Carroll Director and Head of Agriculture provides an update.

The snappily titled “Agricultural Holdings (Requests for Landlord’s Consent or Variation of Terms and the Suitability Test) (England) Regulations 2021” allow a tenant of an agricultural holding governed by the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 to request that a third party determines the issue where:

  1. The landlord’s consent is required or the tenancy agreement needs altered
  2. That is to enable the tenant to apply for grant funding or to comply with statutory duties; and
  3. The landlord has not agreed.

The tenant must first put the request in writing to the landlord and pay their rent due, and the tenancy must not be subject to an existing valid notice to quit.  The tenant has to give the landlord certain specified information, basically to show what the change is and why it is needed.

If the landlord still will not agree, the matter can be referred to arbitration for a decision.  The general rule in arbitration is that the losing party pays the legal costs, so it is not to be started lightly, but the landlord faces the same dilemma in saying no to a change.  If the landlord insists on unacceptable conditions, the tenant can refer that issue to arbitration too, again with the loser expecting to pay the legal costs.

Where the parties agree, the dispute can go to an expert land agent to decide instead, which will often be quicker and cheaper.

The legislation also makes substantial changes to the ‘suitability test’ applicable to applicants for succession tenancies, but those changes will not come into force for another 3 ½ years.

If you would like more information about the issues raised in this article please contact Jonathan on 01228 514077 or click here to send him an email.

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