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Agricultural Occupancy Condition

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  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    Thanks again for taking the time to reply, it is much appreciated.
    Pleased to give any help I can.

    This is quite a specialised area of planning law, with somewhat different applications of the rules in various areas of the country, so it's a pity there are few others giving input based on their experiences.
  • Eliza_2Eliza_2 Forumite
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    I've seen a house advertised to let on Rightmove that I'd love but it has an agricultural tie. I know that it has to be advertised for a certain amount of time to the farming community etc before it can be advertised on the open market but if nobody who qualifies wants it then does it have to go back to planning or can it then just be let privately? What's the minimum it has to be advertised for as it means that the landlord could be without rent for some time?

    I've tried googling to see how this would work but not been very successful (or maybe I'm misunderstanding!). I'm trying to work out whether it could be worth hanging out for this or look around elsewhere. I'm not in a rush. I'd also like to work out if there are any arguments or things the landlord might not have thought of that might work in my favour.

    Thanks for any advice or pointers.
  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    Eliza, while I don't don't know what the exact policy of the particular council is, the fact that the property is empty and not generating rent would be of no concern to them for many months, or perhaps years.

    They would probably take the line that all property will rent at the right price, even if the pool of persons qualified to live there is very small.

    So,it's an unknown whether a blind eye could be turned to someone unqualified renting it, or whether anyone in the vicinity would care, as I doubt if the council is regularly checking-up and might only act on a third party report to them, say from a parish councillor.

    In my village, I know of one ag-tied house which is rented by people who are permanently unable to work and have no farming knowledge No one has reported this, presumably because they keep a low profile, they must be housed somewhere and probably because their landlord is from a well-respected farming family. It's an arrangement between the landlord and themselves, with no council involvement.

    I expect that's how most non-compliant renting happens.
  • edited 23 May 2017 at 6:41PM
    905905 Forumite
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    edited 23 May 2017 at 6:41PM
    We’re tenants, and have recently been informed that the house we’ve been renting for the past 14 years has an ag-tie, which came as a shock as nobody told us this way back when. There was certainly nothing mentioned in the tenancy agreement. Needless to say we wouldn't have qualified.

    The house is on an estate owned by a large trust, and we've always been told they wanted long term tenants like ourselves, so we settled in for the long haul. The estate having recently come under new management, who have just made this “discovery”, we’re now being told we need to sign a statutory declaration that we’re not agricultural workers.

    As we’ve (unwittingly) passed the 10 year mark, we’re in the clear, so no such declaration appears to be necessary. Can you confirm?

    More worrying from our point of view, we’re concerned this portends a sale, and perhaps an end to our happy occupation – that the declaration is merely the first step in removing the ag-tie restriction and of course helping the landlord achieve a higher price for the property. (As we would seem to have been misinformed about the need to make a declaration to legally remain in the property, trust is an issue, else we'd simply ask them if they intend to sell and make plans accordingly.) Can you offer any advice about whether or not we should make the declaration?
  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    Hello 905, as you are aware, your occupation of the tied property cannot called into question since you're past ten years of continuous tenancy.

    However, for your landlord, I'd guess that an application for a CLEUD (Certificate of Lawful Existing Use) is the aim. To do this, they only need to show on the balance of probabilities that the breach has occurred for over 10 years, so presumably tenancy agreements, council tax records, electoral roll details etc could be used to do this instead of a statutory declaration from you.

    Because of the time when you took up occupation, you probably have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, and these dont give the protection from eviction that the old Assured Tenancies did.

    I'm really out of my depth regarding this, or the wisdom of co-operating, or not, so I think it's essential you get proper legal advice.

    Sorry I can't be much help to you.
  • 905905 Forumite
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    Thank you. We'll take your advice and get some legal advice.
  • DTDfanBoyDTDfanBoy Forumite
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    Davesnave wrote: »
    so presumably tenancy agreements, council tax records, electoral roll details etc could be used to do this instead of a statutory declaration from you.

    While those would evidence the length of tenancy, they would not evidence that the tenants were occupying in breach of the tie, perhaps you could agree to sign the stat dec in exchange for a long lease, that is if security of tenure is what you are after ;)
  • edited 24 May 2017 at 1:23PM
    905905 Forumite
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    edited 24 May 2017 at 1:23PM
    After an initial consultation with a solicitor, we were informed that a holiday – even a single day away – could constitute a suitable lapse in occupancy so as to restart the 10 year clock. Any thoughts?
  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    905 wrote: »
    After an initial consultation with a solicitor, we were informed that a holiday – even a single day away – could constitute a suitable lapse in occupancy so as to restart the 10 year clock. Any thoughts?
    I don't know if you're familiar with Martin Goodall's blog, but somewhere in there he suggests that even some weeks away might not be sufficient to put the clock back to zero.

    It's worth a read anyway:

    http://planninglawblog.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/agricultural-dwellings-and-other-houses.html
  • 905905 Forumite
    4 Posts
    That’s one of the places I got my information from. It certainly seems unlikely that such slight lapses in occupancy have such an effect, as it would be an impossible standard to meet. I can only conclude that lawyer’s opinions can differ.
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