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Agriculture and Landed Estates Update

There are some key changes and regulations affecting the Landed Estates and Agriculture sector.  Please read below to find out more.

Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 and dispute resolution

From 26 May 2015, the AHA 1986 is amended to allow third-party determination as an alternative method of dispute resolution to the previously compulsory arbitration for certain agricultural tenancy disputes. Disputes regarding notices to quit will remain referable to arbitration only but the changes will effect rent reviews.

Under third-party determination the landlord and the tenant are free to agree on the third party best suited to determine their dispute, such as a local land agent or surveyor. They are also able to agree the terms and conditions of the appointment including timeframes and process.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy possessions

Retaliatory evictions

From 1 October 2015, the Act will restrict a landlord's ability to rely on a notice ending an assured shorthold tenancy under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (a section 21 notice) if the tenant has made a written complaint about the condition of the premises before the notice is given and the landlord has not responded, or its response is inadequate, or it then serves a section 21 notice.

The changes, which come into force on 1 October 2015, will not apply where a tenant is in breach of an obligation under the tenancy to 'use the premises in a tenant-like manner' or other similar obligation or if the premises are genuinely on the market for sale.

Other restrictions on service of S21 notices

From 1 October 2015, landlords will be prevented from giving section 21 notices where they have failed to comply with certain statutory obligations; these obligations will be set by regulations (yet to be made) relating to the condition of the premises, health and safety and energy performance.

Landlords will also be required to provide information about the respective rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant under an AST and will be prevented from giving a section 21 notice when it is in breach of this requirement.

New Forms!

New regulations came into force on 6 April 2015 which changed some of the prescribed forms for assured shorthold tenancies and assured agricultural occupancies. You should always check that you have the up to date form before use and in particular check that you are using the new versions of the Form 9, Section 13 and Section 8 notices:

• Notice served before granting an assured shorthold to an agricultural worker to prevent the tenancy becoming an assured agricultural occupancy protected under the Housing Act 1988 (Form 9)

• Section 13 Notice to notify a rent of a rent increase.

• Notice seeking possession under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 or an assured agricultural occupancy.

If you wish to discuss this article further or require more information, please do not hesitate to contact Johanne Spittle.

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