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Agricultural land questions regarding assignment by a tenant

(6 Posts)
ATouchOfStuffing Thu 31-Jan-13 14:55:39

My dad owns some land and rents fields out to two tenants. The main problem is that this has been the case since my great grandparents pulled up apple trees and made gentlemans agreements with their neighbours; it seems there isn't much legal documentation to this. There was a bit of a legal battle between the three parties in the 80's from what I gather, I think because one of the tenants had built a house without asking permission of my grandparents, and my father says that 'because it was so costly with the legal paperwork everyone just agreed to drop it and we got no where'. Very frustrating now as nothing has been resolved and my dad is none the wiser to his rights.

Anyway, now we have a situation where the same tenant who built the house and is no longer using the land for agriculture other than a few sheep, has assigned the land to his son, in 2011 The first my dad heard of this was last month when his managing agent found it out.

I have urged my dad to seek legal advice but he is convinced his agent knows best - I hate to feel he is being strung along by someone who may not know the law well enough to help him.

The ideal would be to evict this tenant as the reason the agent was looking into it was because he hasn't been upkeeping the land; trimming hedges, owing etc and we have had complaints. Also the other tenant is apparently allowing horses across the fields (they say they have her permission from the tenant to ride and my dad has to go out and challenge them). He is getting a pittance from both tenants - under £500 per annum for over 40 acres, some of which is equine land.

I really hope that someone can help or advise us of a good solicitor or specialists in this type of problem?

Elansofar Thu 31-Jan-13 18:12:39

Hi. This situation is clearly far too complicated to set out in a forum. If the agent is worth his salt he will have no problem in your father obtaining a second opinion and helping accordingly. There seems to be planning issues and lease issues mixed up here, further complicated by lack of paperwork. Firstly I'd encourage your father to write down things as they happened on a time line and set out any agreements made along the way. Then approach another, separate agent for advice. Chose one who is RICS qualified in rural practise surveying. Ask them to provide a ring fenced quote for a report to set out the current rights and obligations of the person in occupation of the land and property and provide an option analysis of actions open to your father to regain control of the land, or to enforce any agreement against the original tenant. Going straight to a solicitor for advice is an option, but you will find that an experienced land agent will give great practical advice, and if a solicitor is needed he or she will not hesitate in telling you so and guiding you along the way. Hope this helps.

ATouchOfStuffing Thu 31-Jan-13 18:59:08

Thank you so much. I have passed your comment on to my dad, very helpful!

Ladyflip Fri 01-Feb-13 18:07:12

Hi, Elansofar is basically right in that, without much more information it is not really possible to advise you.

However, I thought I ought to make the point that it would potentially be possible for the father to have assigned the lease to the son as his tenancy would be pre Farm Business Tenancies and therefore probably covered by the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986. One of the cannier things tenants did under this act was assign their holding to a limited company which, of course, don't die and therefore don't come to an end.

However, it is possible to evict a tenant under certain grounds set out in the act, one if which includes bad husbandry.

If your Dad is a member of the CLA then the membership includes legal advice and he should contact the legal advice line. If not, if you could let me know where you are in the country by PM I'll try and recomment someone close to you.

ATouchOfStuffing Sun 03-Feb-13 13:01:28

Hi Lady, thank you for adding that! I haven't been on here for a few days and was really pleased to see there is some hope! I couldn't understand how he can get away with doing as he pleases to such and extent and thought there must be a clause about him maintaining the land, thank you!

My dad is in Kent, near Sevenoaks if you can recommend someone? His land agent is RICS and he hasn't mentioned anything so I am trying to convince him the legal route is the best way forward.

freerangelady Sun 03-Feb-13 13:10:32

We tend to use land agents rather than solicitors as they do have an in depth knowledge (farmers by the way). I don't know any in Kent but you could always just ring a random farmer and ask who the local one is. I'd definitely go by word of mouth.

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