Kate Theophilus, partner in the rural team at Stephens Scown, looks at the new responsibilities for both landlords and tenants under the ‘New Model Clauses’.

 

If you are a tenant or a landlord of agricultural land then recent changes to legislation may have an impact on your tenancy agreement.

What are the Model Clauses?

The phrase ‘Model Clauses’ is given to statutory regulations that apply to all agricultural tenancies under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986. If the Model Clauses are expressly mentioned in the written agreement, they may also apply to farm business tenancies under the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995.

The Model Clauses set out landlord and tenant obligations to maintain, repair and insure fixed equipment. Fixed equipment includes any ‘building or structure affixed to land and any works on, in, over or under the land’.

Landlords and tenants are free to negotiate and agree repair provisions as they deem suitable for their individual holdings. However, if a written tenancy agreement does not determine which party is responsible for a particular repair, then the Model Clauses will apply. If the written agreement and the Model Clauses conflict, then the written agreement will take priority.

What are the New Model Clauses?

Following a DEFRA consultation to determine if current legislation could be modernised, new regulations were drawn up. These regulations, known as the ‘new Model Clauses’, came into effect on 1 October 2015 and repeal the previous 1973 Model Clauses.

What has changed?

The new Model Clauses add additional responsibilities for both tenants and landlords. The changes reflect advances in technology and the rising costs of fixed equipment on farms.

How do the new Model Clauses affect landlords?

The main changes to the 1973 Model Clauses that affect landlords under Part 1 of the new Model Clauses are:

  • The repair and replacement of the electrical supply system including the consumer board but excluding sockets and electrical fittings
  • Gas pipes, fixed liquid petroleum and gas tanks
  • Fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and alarms
  • Water and drainage systems including reed beds for water and sewage treatment, septic tanks and cess pools
  • Extension of the list of items in respect of which the landlord may recover one-half cost from the tenant

How do the new Model Clauses effect tenants?

Part 2 of the new Model Clauses details the rights and liabilities of the tenant. The following are some important additions to the 1973 Regulations which are now the responsibility of tenants.

  • Heat and power generating equipment including solar panels, wind turbines and anaerobic digesters. This equipment must be wholly for the use of the tenant
  • Increase in the limit on the tenant’s liability for replacement of roof tiles or slates from £100 to £500
  • Livestock handling systems including sheep dips
  • Space heating and water heating systems

What do Tenants and Landlords need to do?

As mentioned above, the new Model Clauses will only apply if your written agreement is silent on a particular repair and maintenance obligation. So, if you are a tenant or a landlord with either an agricultural tenancy under the 1986 Act or a farm business tenancy under the 1995 Act, then you will need to check your written agreements to ensure that it contains adequate provisions. If your written agreement does not contain adequate provisions then you will need to look to the New Model Clauses to ascertain who is responsible.

 

If you have a question or query for Kate Theophilus, please email rural@stephens-scown.co.uk or call 01872 265100.