Common Questions and Answers on Farm Business Tenancies

AuthorNigel Davis

Chapter 4

Common Questions and Answers on Farm Business Tenancies1



In what circumstances should notices be served?


If there is a short-term FBT agreement containing a covenant that the holding should be used for agricultural purposes only, there is no need for an exchange of notices. Any breach of the terms of the FBT agreement is disregarded in determining whether the agriculture (and business) conditions have been fulfilled (section 1(8) of the 1995 Act).

If, however, a long-term tenancy is granted it would be sensible to exchange notices so that there can be a diversification in the future without falling foul of the 1954 Act.

The landlord and tenant must give each other notice before they enter into any tenancy agreement or the beginning of the tenancy (beginning means the day the tenant is entitled to possession under that tenancy: section 38(4) of the 1995 Act). As previously stated, it is not sufficient for the landlord to serve notice on the potential tenant and for the latter to simply sign a receipt on the bottom of that notice. That is simply a receipt of the landlord’s notice and not a notice served by the potential tenant on the landlord. There need to be two

1Note: all references are to sections in the 1995 Act.

38 Agricultural Tenancies

distinct notices: one from the landlord to the potential tenant; and another from the potential tenant to the landlord.2

Although section 3 of the 1995 Act provides that there is no need to serve a new notice if a new tenancy is granted following an implied or express surrender, there will be a need for new notices to be served by both parties, each on the other, where there are a series of fixed term tenancies. Moreover, where there has been substantial diversification, the new tenancy will not be primarily or wholly agricultural at the beginning. Therefore, the new letting will be governed by the 1954 Act. The landlord and tenant can agree to exclude the security provisions of that Act. To do so the landlord must serve the prescribed notice before the beginning of the tenancy and the tenant must make a declaration that he has received and accepted the consequences of the notice.3


Can the notice be signed by an agent?


There is no requirement that the notice be signed at all. However, good practice dictates that it is. The signatures of the agents to the respective parties are obviously adequate but if they are to sign they should ensure they have the necessary authority from their respective clients to sign the notice and would be well advised to obtain a signed authority to do so (unless they already hold a general authority which includes such a purpose).

The form of such authority can be quite simple. A precedent for such an authority is set out at para 10.1.6.

2Note: even for the notice condition the character of the tenancy must be wholly or primarily agricultural at the beginning of the tenancy.

3Regulatory Reform (Business Tenancies) (England and Wales) Order 2003, articles 21 to 22,

Schedules 1 to 2 introducing a new section 38A into the 1954 Act.



How can a landlord obtain early possession for development?


There is no automatic early resumption clause. Unless there is a break clause, a fixed term tenancy will continue until the expiration of the term. A yearly tenancy needs to be terminated by at least 12 months’ notice expiring on an anniversary date of a completed year.

If there is a break clause in a fixed term tenancy for longer than 3 years, the clause must be operated by at least 12 months’ notice. Break clauses in fixed term tenancies of 3 years or less are not subject to any statutory requirement as to length of notice.



What amounts to a succession tenancy so that the 1986 Act applies to the new tenancy?


Where the tenancy is obtained by virtue of a direction of the First-tier Tribunal (formerly the Agricultural Land Tribunal).

Where a tenancy is granted by the landlord after a direction awarding a succession tenancy has been made by the First-tier Tribunal.

Where the parties agree that there should be a succession tenancy and there is a written contract of tenancy indicating (in whatever terms) that Part IV of the 1986 Act should apply to the tenancy. Note the provisions of section 34 of the 1986 Act in this regard.

40 Agricultural Tenancies

A tenancy will count as an agreed succession if:

(1) the previous tenancy of the holding or related holding was a tenancy to which Part IV of the 1986 Act applied;

(2) the current tenancy is granted to a close relative of the previous tenant; and

(3) is granted to a person (alone or with other persons) who was or has become the sole surviving applicant for a direction of the First-tier Tribunal for a tenancy or is granted as the result of an agreement between the landlord and the previous tenant and begins before the date of the giving of any retirement notice by the previous tenant. If no retirement notice is given it must be granted and begin before the death of the previous tenant (section 4(2) and (2A) of the 1995 Act, inserted by articles 11 and 12(1)(8) of the Regulatory Reform (Agricultural Tenancies) (England and Wales) Order 2006).



If there is a variation of a tenancy by altering the terms or varying the acreage, will the tenant continue to be protected by the 1986 Act?


Not all variations of tenancies...

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