Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Focus on New Tenancy Law

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Focus on New Tenancy Law

Article excerpt

Byline: By Christopher Hewitt

On October 18, after a number of years of discussion between interested bodies, Parliament passed the Regulatory Reform (Agricultural Tenancies) (England and Wales) Order 2006.

Tenancy reform has been the subject of debate for some time and this legislation goes a long way to remedying difficulties in the system and modernising it. Many of the changes are administrative. However, there are some that have immediate and practical effect.

There are changes to the rules of succession to the Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies (AHA), where an applicant for a succession tenancy must show that he has obtained the majority of his livelihood from his agricultural work on the farm for five out of the last seven years. There is now provision to allow reference to other non-agricultural work on the holding, which has been approved by the landlord. This will allow income from non-agricultural diversification schemes to be taken into account in assessing the majority of the livelihood test.

The reform does not go as far as some would have liked. Only non-agricultural income from sources agreed by the landlord is permitted. This may well lessen the practical effect.

Another area where tenants were often wary that they might inadvertently lose the protection of the AHA tenancy has been altered. If there were changes to the tenancy it could, by accident, be converted into a Farm Business Tenancy (FBT). For instance, if a field was added to the tenancy it could be treated in law as if the whole tenancy had ended and a new one granted as an FBT. The new regulations do permit more extensive changes to the agreement without the consequent loss of security of tenure.

The final major change on AHA tenancies is to the regulations allowing successions by agreement between the parties to be carried out more easily and without the need to apply to the Agricultural Land Tribunal. …

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