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Occupation of Land

There are several different ways in which land can be occupied for agriculture.

Different legal rights and obligations apply to the various arrangements which can exist, and nobody should take any steps which might affect their rights without taking legal advice. Here are some of the categories our Agricultural and Rural Business team come across, and advise upon, frequently:

Tenancies under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986, created before 1 September 1995 or in succession to such a tenancy. Confers lifetime security of tenure on the tenant subject to a limited right for the landlord to recover possession. May carry succession rights for the close relatives of a deceased or retiring tenant if granted before 1984.

Tenancies under the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995, otherwise known as ‘Farm Business Tenancies’. Granted after 1 September 1995, for either a fixed length of time or subject to the service of notice by either landlord or tenant.

Grazing or cropping licences. Grant limited rights to the farmer to use or remove the produce of the land, but leaving the landowner in legal possession of it. Often, but not necessarily, for a limited part of a year e.g. the summer grazing season.

‘Gentleman’s Agreements’. Often unwritten arrangements the terms of which are uncertain and likely therefore to lead to disputes. Not necessarily entered into only by gentlemen!

Gratuitous or non-business licences. Conferring little or no legal rights if intended to cover occupation without payment, or by domestic pets, such as horses. Often a source of disputes between the parties.

Dilapidations and compensation for improvements. Where the relationship between the parties is truly that of landlord and tenant either act of Parliament or the contractual arrangement between them may give rise to dilapidations (claims at the end of the tenancy for a tenant’s failure to comply with his obligations, often to repair) or claims for compensation for improvements which the landlord may have to pay to the tenant (generally if the improvements have been agreed in advance and in writing). If claims cannot be agreed they are decided by arbitration, generally by a valuer.

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