What are the key aims of the new legislation?
The legislation broadly covers changes made to the same Act in England which took effect in 2015. The objective is to modernise the means and methods by which repairs and maintenance obligations within certain agricultural tenancies are regulated. The previous version was outdated and generally no longer relevant.
What are they key changes for landlords - why do they matter?
While some changes are merely confirmation of the fact the legislation is now a devolved matter for Wales, some are more pronounced and should be of interest to both landlord and tenant. In particular, fitted kitchens are expressly referred to within the changes to rest responsibility for their upkeep with tenants. Previously the matter was silent, leading to ambiguity at the end of a tenancy. The changes therefore provide clarity in this area. Another change has been made to the manner in which foul water systems should be treated, with a tenant now responsible to ‘keep clear reed beds for water and sewage treatment’, and ‘keep clean and free of blockage all slurry systems’. Crucially however, the new rules do not impose an obligation on the tenant to keep them in “good working order” - meaning this may resort to falling as a burden on the landlord’s shoulders.
What about repairs to landlord buildings?
In respect of landlord’s buildings, responsibility for repairs still lies with the landlord, but whereas before up to £100 of the costs each year could be recovered from the tenant, the threshold has been increased to £500 per year. Furthermore, if a landlord fails to execute repairs or replacement of items they are obliged to, the tenant may now recover up to £2,000 per annum of the cost per item of repair / replacement, providing relevant notice has been served.
When does it come into force?
The legislation came into effect on 1st November 2019, and applies to all Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 tenancies where the Model Clauses specifically apply, or maintenance responsibilities are otherwise silent. It can also apply to Farm Business Tenancies which use the Model Clauses as a means of defining repairing obligations within the agreement.
Where can landlords go for more information?
Contact one of our Land Agency surveyors here.
Alongside his role as Associate Director of Land Agency at Cooke & Arkwright, Chris sits on the RICS Rural Professional Group Board, the Wales Group Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV), and is this year’s president of the South Wales & Mons Branch of the CAAV.