New rules for rural landlords and tenants in Wales

28 November 2019
  • Chris Hyde Land Agency Cooke & Arkwright
  • Farm slurry Cooke & Arkwright
  • Farm milking parlour Cooke & Arkwright

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From fitted kitchens to slurry pits: new rules have come into force in Wales impacting the upkeep of farm equipment on rented farms. Chris Hyde, Associate Director in our Land Agency explains what the rules mean for landlords and tenants.

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 The previous version was outdated and generally no longer relevant.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.

Cooke & Arkwright have been providing rating valuation advice to The Welsh Rugby Union Limited (“WRU”) and Millennium Stadium plc for many years. They were recently successful in achieving substantial reductions in the assessments of the Millennium Stadium, covering both the 2005 and 2010 rating list. These negotiated reductions yielded savings of c.£3.5m which, crucially, allows the WRU to re-invest in rugby throughout Wales. They advise the WRU across the group portfolio including the National Centre of Excellence in the Vale of Glamorgan. The valuation issues across the WRU portfolio are complex requiring a high level of understanding of the funding and finances of professional sport in Wales. Cooke & Arkwright’s experience and understanding of these issues and application to the rating valuation have yielded these substantial negotiated reductions. The WRU and the Millennium Stadium entrust our work to organisations with the required levels in experience and expertise in dealing with these complex issues. I am glad to say we have this expertise in Wales. I would have no hesitation in recommending ratepayers making use of this Welsh based expertise.

Steve Phillips, Group Finance Director, Welsh Rugby Union Group