Agricultural Tenancy Law changes: if you want your say, act now!

24 July 2019

July 2 sees the end of public consultation on planned changes which, if implemented, will signal a reform of the present agricultural tenancy law.

It would be our advice to those who may be affected, to review the consultation. It contains some radical suggestions from a landlord and tenant perspective, not all of which demonstrate a full understanding of the wider interaction between landlords and tenants or their respective freehold or tenancy assets.

Launching the consultation in April, DEFRA stated its intention to ‘remove barriers to productivity improvements and facilitate structural change in the tenant farming sector’. It wants to drive productivity and ease the way for new blood into the sector – all done under an overarching concern for environmental impacts.

One key issue referred to is a concern that old AHA tenancies governed by the 1986 Agricultural Holdings Act are being held by ageing farmers. However, the issue is not as simple as enabling these to be passed onto younger individuals, whether in the family or not.

That is firstly because older tenants may not be unproductive – they have experience and knowledge. Suddenly excluding these individuals is different from encouraging them to put succession plans in place. Secondly, even where tenants have reached an age where they may have become unproductive, they still wish for housing and stability. Thirdly, it is not government’s place to unexpectedly interfere with the long-term underlying value in landlord’s interests and asset planning - to attempt to do so will inevitably lead to inadvertent consequences as landlords take action to protect such capital.

It has to be borne in mind that legislation is usually merely a backstop to discussions we see amongst families and between landlords and tenants about such matters. We constantly help such resolutions in favour of all parties, and it is a balanced outcome which ultimately needs to be struck. That cannot be done without the background knowledge of the industry as to the realities of relationships and concerns on the ground. It is that information this consultation needs to ensure any reforms in fact work

A link to the full document with details of how to add your views, is below:

https://consult.defra.gov.uk/ahdb-sponsorship-and-agricultural-tenancies/agricultural-tenancy-consultation/supporting_documents/agriculturaltenancyconsultdoc.pdf

For advice on agricultural matters, please contact James Lloyd on 01482 398396, email james.lloyd@wilkinchapman.co.uk or visit wilkinchapman.co.uk


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