1 Jul 2019

A recent case in the High Court, The Earl of Plymouth v Rees [2019], has provided some timely guidance on the extent to which reservations in an agricultural tenancy agreement allow the landlord to carry out work on the tenant’s holding in advance of a proposed development.

The recovery of land subject to an agricultural tenancy, particularly when that land is let under an Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 (AHA 1986) tenancy, can be one of the most challenging issues to face a landowner and their professional advisors. When the land is earmarked for development it can take on even greater importance.

In The Earl of Plymouth v Rees [2019] case, the judgement considered how widely or restrictively the landlord’s reservations in the tenancy agreements should be interpreted. This can have real practical implications when a proposed development is still at the planning stage.

The types of activity discussed included digging excavations, the sinking of boreholes, environmental surveys and the erection of structures. All of these activities, and other acts by the landlord that would involve significant interference with the operation of the farm, fell outside the reservations to the landlord in this particular case.

This decision highlights the need for landlords to understand, as early on as possible, the exact nature of the rights reserved to them under their tenancy agreement. This is especially the case when the land is subject to an AHA 1986 tenancy and has potential for future development.

If you are a landowner or tenant, the Real Estate Team at Taylor Vinters has a wealth of experience in dealing with all aspects of agricultural property, including agricultural tenancies, so please get in touch.