Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies are a valued asset of any farming business which holds one. They are particularly favourable to tenants, far more so than Farm Business Tenancies and it is therefore important to know the timescales involved with these types of tenancies so as no to fall foul of them. Landlords should also be aware of the timescales so that when the relevant timeframes occur, appropriate measures can be taken to bring the tenancy to an end.
Rent Reviews: Not more than every three years, it should be noted that removing/surrendering land from the tenancy can be classed as a rent review and a tenant should be particularly cautious and seek legal advice when considering whether to agree to any surrender or addition of land from or to the holding as this can constitute a surrender of the AHA tenancy and grant of a new tenancy which would then be an FBT rather than an AHA.
Death of Tenant:
Tenant Succession: Application must be made to the Agricultural land Tribunal within 3 months starting on the date of the death of the tenant.
Landlord: Must serve Case G notice to quit within 3 months of being served with notice of the tenants death or of receiving notice of an application to the Agricultural land Tribunal
Retirement: In the case of a single retiring tenant, he must have attained the age of 65 at the date which the retirement notice takes effect or he must be permanently or physically incapacitated at that date, all joint tenants must fulfil that criterion. The retirement notice will take effect on the first annual term date at least 12 months from the date of the notice and it must contain the nomination of one person, eligible within the meaning of the Act, to be a successor to the tenancy.
Notices to Quit:
- Forfeiture: available if the tenancy agreement reserves the right to forfeit. Sufficient notice must be given so that the tenant is not deprived of the right to bring his claims on termination of the tenancy
- General Notices to Quit: 12 months notice must be given expiring on the term date, except where
- The tenant has become insolvent
- The tenancy agreement validly contains a clause for resumption of the whole or part of the holding for non-agricultural purpose
- Notice to a subtenant
- Tribunal specifies a date at the end of the tenancy upon issuing a certificate for bad husbandry or upon the tenant failing to comply with a notice to do work
- A tenant can serve a short notice (at least 6 months) after a rent increase award
If a tenant receives a general notice to quit, he has 1 month in which to serve a counter notice. The notice to quit will then be suspended and the Landlord then has 1 month from the counter notice to apply to the First Tier Tribunal for consent and will be successful of he prove one or more of the statutory grounds for possession.
- Incontestable Case Notices:
Landlord: Must provide 12 months notice using one of the incontestable case notices
Tenant: No right to serve a counter notice but a tenant can challenge the validity of the notice in relation to Case B, D or E by referring the matter to arbitration within 1 month of service of the notice. An arbitrator must then be appointed within 3 months or the right to arbitration will be lost.
Case D –
Notice to Pay – payment must be made within 2 months of service of the notice – this must be complied with even if you think you have paid or if you think you are entitled to some form of set off against the rent. The arguments can be made later but the payment must be made to ensure you comply and to ensure that the notice to quit cannot be served.
Notice to do Work – the validity of the notice can be challenged via arbitration and to do so a counter notice must be served within 1 month of receipt of the notice to do work
Given the short time frames available, it is imperative that on receipt of a notice you contact your legal advisor for assistance immediately. Napthens have a dedicated team that can assist you with this so please do not hesitate to contact us.