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Eifion Bibby:-

Agriculture Bill brings tenancy reform

Significant changes to agricultural tenancies are included in the government’s 2020 Agriculture Bill announced mid-January which should help improve productivity and assist succession.

Following the tenancy reform consultation last year Schedule 3 of the Agriculture Bill proposes several amendments to the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986.

An important improvement is a provision to vary or even over ride some restrictive clauses within Agricultural tenancies which are problematic, especially with the anticipated changes revolving around environmentally-based income.

“Some restrictive clauses currently could prevent farmers improving, for example, water storage systems to comply with water quality regulations or putting up new facilities for a diversification enterprise,” said Eifion Bibby of Davis Meade Property Consultants.

“The new Bill proposes allowing tenants the right to apply through arbitration or third-party determination to resolve such a dispute.”

“Another change in the bill will see arbitrators in the future being appointed not just from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) as now but also from the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV).

“This gives CAAV (and also the Agricultural Law Association) statutory authority to act on a unilateral request arising from a rent review, end of tenancy issue or other matter at issue between the parties that are statutorily referable to arbitration.”

With regard to succession, the new bill gives authority to develop an improved Suitability Test relating to the applicant’s capacity to farm the holding commercially to a high production standard and care for the environment. Other criteria might be the applicant’s experience, training or skills in agriculture and business management, health, financial standing and character, as well as criteria relating to the character and condition of the holding and the terms of the tenancy.

The Bill proposes amending the minimum age (currently 65) at which applications to the tribunal for succession on retirement can be made, so that such applications can be made at any age. The age which local authorities can issue tenants a retirement notice to quit (currently age 65) will be replaced with State Pension Age.

“Rent reviews will see demands for arbitration in the rent review process replaced by a notice of determination, which may be followed by arbitration or third-party determination,” Eifion said.

“Also, with the aim of encouraging Landlord investment in Agricultural Holdings, it the tenant has agreed in writing to make payments for improvements that are wholly or partly financed by the landowner, such payments are to be disregarded from considerations of changes to the rent ;and any benefit to the tenant from the improvement should also be disregarded whilst the tenant is still making payment for the same.”

For more information contact Eifion Bibby at the Colwyn Bay office of Davis Meade Property Consultants on 01492 510360, email eifionbibby@dmpcuk.com.

 

Philip Meade:-

Arbitration expert leads national seminar

A Shropshire chartered surveyor has been invited to take a leading role in a live conference on rural arbitration being organised by a national seminar provider.

Philip Meade of Davis Meade Property Consultants at Oswestry will be addressing surveyors, lawyers and other professionals who are involved in property disputes and arbitration.

As an experienced arbitrator himself Philip will be outlining the procedures, the statutes covering rural arbitrations, the duties and powers of the arbitrator and the obligations of the parties.

The session, Rural Arbitration – Learn live with MBL (seminars) Limited, will also give advice on how to deal with interlocutory matters leading up to the hearing, how to prepare for the hearing and what to do after an award is made.

“Arbitration is an important tool in the dispute resolution process and differs in that the arbitrator is there to determine evidence in front of him/her, not to bring his/her own,” said Philip who is a rural arbitrator on the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Presidents Panel.

“The arbitrator is not an independent expert or mediator and is in a judicial role not inquisitorial so each of the disputing parties must therefore make their own case.

“As with most things, preparation is key and those facing an arbitration hearing should know their rights and ensure that their experts are well briefed and prepared to present sound and useful evidence to the arbitrator.”

The seminar will also cover the administration procedure and likely costs of arbitration and will include details of the new simplified arbitration scheme aimed at the rural sector, particularly for rental disputes.

Designed to be more cost effective, this scheme limits arbitrator’s costs to £3,000 with each party paying half, regardless of outcome and own costs.

“If rural arbitration is to become more readily seen as an appropriate way to deal with disputes, it is crucial to ensure that it is easily accessible to the average surveyor and not just the domain of lawyers and barristers.

“We hope that seminars like these will encourage younger surveyors to participate,” Philip added.

Philip Meade is based at the Oswestry office of DMPC telephone
01691 676144 email philipmeade@dmpcuk.com

 

Philip Meade:-

Rail company ordered to clean up its ditches

Network Rail has been ordered to clean up its ditches after the Agricultural Land Tribunal ruled in favour of a farmer whose land adjoining railway land was compromised by poorly maintained ditches.

The farmer has been in dispute with Network Rail over their ditches for over six years and the Agricultural Land Tribunal decided that an Order should be made for NR to clean all their ditches adjoining the farmer’s land as had been initially requested several years ago.

The farmer is a client of Shropshire chartered surveyor Philip Meade who said: “It is a good, common sense approach that re-balances the power between Network Rail and farmers who adjoin railway land who are entitled to have the ditches, which drain their land but to which they cannot get access to, maintained.

“It is an important decision because it hopefully means that Network Rail will be more pragmatic in their dealings with other farmers similarly affected in future

“This is a serious issue because flooded land is more than just about damage to the crops and soils within the field because it can cause a breach of cross compliance and jeopardise future support payments.”

Philip said that in this particular case part of the downfall for National Rail was that it had promised three years previously to do the work on the ditches but in fact had failed to do so.

The railway company had largely ignored the problem because the tracks themselves were not affected, but under the Land Drainage Act, any land owner is entitled to apply for such an order if their neighbour (whoever that may be) is not maintaining their ditches properly.

Although a tribunal rarely awards costs, in this case it did and agreement has since been reached over a contribution to the farmer’s costs.

Philip is advising farmers with similar problems to contact him or seek advice from their land agent.

“Network Rail will have to be more wary in future about maintaining their ditches and farmers with land alongside the rail network may need to remind them of their obligations,” he added.

For more information or advice contact Philip Meade at the Oswestry office of DMPC on 01691 676144 email Philipmeade@dmpcuk.com

 

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Oswestry Office, 103 Beatrice Street, Oswestry, Shropshire. SY11 1HL
01691 659658

Colwyn Bay Office, Plas Eirias Business Centre, Abergele Road, Colwyn Bay, Conwy. LL29 8BF
01492 510360

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