The first Tier Property Tribunal has recently issued a rare certificate of bad husbandry.
The issue of a certificate of bad husbandry is a ground under which a landlord of a holding can serve an incontestable notice to quit on its tenant (under Case C) if the holding is let on a tenancy governed by the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 (“the 1986 Act”). The issue of such certificates is rare, as applications are not usually successful (and in fact rarely made at all!)
It has been reported that in this recent case, Yorke v Barron, the tenant had failed to maintain a reasonable standard of efficient production, which had caused an extensive weed infestation by the tenant not properly cutting or grazing the permanent pasture which formed part of the holding.
The tenant claimed he had suffered from poor health, that his dairy business had folded after a bovine TB infection and that some of his cattle were stolen. His intention, the court heard, was to re-commence dairy farming when it became commercially viable. The court concluded this was “no better than hypothetical” and issued the certificate on the basis that the holding was understocked, overcome by weeds and the cattle were kept in an “unsatisfactory condition”. Buildings on the holding were also in poor repair.
This case follows the general “trend” of previous cases where there was some form of neglect, abandonment or the absence of management of the holding. A previous 2015 case of Chapman v Lumb concerned an application by the landlord against the tenant in respect of the tenant’s dairy holding that was also successful; although deterioration of farm buildings was an additional factor in this case, and overstocking (rather than understocking and the subsequent overrun of weeds) and the detrimental effects on animal welfare were factors taken into account by the court.
What is clear is that each case depends on its facts and the interpretation and application of the conditions set out in section 11 Agricultural Act 1947 (which sets out the occupier of a holdings’ responsibilities in relation to good husbandry).
For more information or if there are any queries on this or any other related matter please contact Louisa Butcher Tel: +(44)(0)1603 693453 (Ext 3453) Email: Louisa.Butcher@mills-reeve.com