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An update on agricultural tenancy reform

22 October 2015

Dispute resolution

With effect from 27 May this year the Deregulation Act 2015 now provides for disputes within the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 to be heard by third party experts rather than by an arbitrator, other than those relating to a ‘notice to quit’.

Using an independent expert should be quicker and more cost-effective. During an arbitration experts present evidence to the arbitrator who may know very little about the subject matter. By contrast an independent expert’s own knowledge and experience can be utilised to produce a conclusive answer. An independent expert can now be used for rent reviews and compensation claims.

Compensation claims

From this October, regulations governing some aspects of end of tenancy compensation are to be abolished. The current regulations provide ‘values for fertility’ based on calculations from the 1970s and 1980s.

These rules will go back to the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 which allows for calculation on the basis of value to an incoming tenant. It is hoped that this will encourage best farming practice on the holding up to the final year of the tenancy.

2015 model clauses

The Agriculture (Maintenance, Repair and Insurance of Fixed Equipment) Regulations 2015 in force from March revoke and replace the Agriculture (Maintenance, Repair and Insurance of Fixed Equipment) Regulations 1973 in England.

The new model clauses dealing with these aspects will be deemed to be incorporated in every Agricultural Holdings Act tenancy except where the agreement is in writing.

The 2015 model clauses add new provisions for fixed equipment as follows:

clarification of the landlord’s general repair and replacement obligations.

clarification of the tenant’s general repair obligations, including fixed equipment generating heat or power, and the maintenance of slurry, silage and effluent systems.

extension to the list of items where the landlord may recover one-half of the cost from the tenant.

new circumstances where the tenant is able to carry out repairs or replacements which are the landlord’s liability.

an increased limit on the tenant’s liability for replacement of roof tiles or slates from £100 to £%

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Adam Hale BA (Hons), TEP, FALA
Senior associate, solicitor
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