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Legal dangers of farm tenancies.

Around half of farm businesses in England are now running alternative enterprises to their core activities.

Many have converted redundant agricultural buildings to workshops, small business premises or residential property.

Simon Rowarth, a partner at Hexham-based Youngs Chartered Surveyors, specialists in rural and agricultural estate management, has some advice for farmers and landowners.

"Your farm buildings are an asset which can provide you with an alternative income and it is in your own best interests to have a written tenancy agreement which clearly sets out all the agreed terms and conditions," said Mr Rowarth.

"Legal issues are becoming ever more complicated in this field," he continues. "There are over 30 acts, for example, affecting the design and letting of workspace. In most cases, buildings are let to business tenants under the Landlord and Tenant Act (Part 2) 1954. However, the Act was reformed on June 1 2004 by statutory instrument.

Mr Rowarth continues: "In England and Wales around 33% of agricultural land is rented. The Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 is the principal piece of legislation that regulates the relationship between landlord and tenant on all agricultural tenancies created before 1995. The Agricultural Tenancies Act governs the relationship between landlord and tenant after 1995.

"There are also several pieces of legislation covering residential property, including the Assured Tenancy, introduced by the Housing Act 1988 and the Assured Shorthold Tenancy, also introduced in 1988, but modified by the 1996 Housing Act.

"It can be a legal nightmare," says Mr Rowarth, who advises farmers and landowners to seek professional advice on any arrangements so they can avoid potential pitfalls .

Youngs has offices in Hexham, Alnwick, Durham and Forfar in Scotland. For more information refer to their website on
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 4, 2005
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