agricultural holdings acts



agricultural holdings acts defined in 1939 year

agricultural holdings acts - Agricultural Holdings Acts;
agricultural holdings acts - Acts for giving greater security to agricultural tenants in England and Wales. The Agricultural Holdings Act, 1923, consolidated certain earlier Acts and formed a code for controlling the relations between landlords and tenants of agricultural land as from July 7, 1923. The Act does not cover all points arising between a landlord and a tenant. A great deal is left to what is called the custom of the country. Such custom may vary not only from county to county but also from district to district and from time to time. A custom may, however, be excluded by the contract of tenancy whereas any provision in a contract inconsistent with the main provisions of the Agricultural Holdings Acts is void.

A holding may be either wholly agricultural or wholly pastoral, or in part agricultural and as to the rest pastoral, or in whole or in part cultivated as a market garden. It does not include an allotment garden.

Agricultural land is not a holding unless it is let for a term of years or from year to year. The Act is designed to promote good husbandry. The improvement of land is a slow process, and it is essential that a tenancy should be for a lengthy period so that the tenant may look ahead and be induced to carry out improvements to the land even though it may be years before any benefit can be reaped from them.

The Act contains two main sets of provisions designed to achieve its object. First, in order to give the tenant security of tenure, his tenancy can be ended only on long notice; second, even if the necessary notice is given the tenant is entitled to be compensated by the landlord for: (1) certain improvements carried out to the land; (2) any loss or expense caused to him by having to leave the holding.

Security of Tenure

Notwithstanding any provision in a contract of tenancy to the contrary, a notice to quit, whether given by landlord or tenant, cannot terminate the tenancy before 12 months from the end of the then current year of the tenancy. There are a few exceptions, e.g. when a receiving order in bankruptcy is made against the tenant.

Moreover, if a tenancy is granted for two years or more, the tenancy will not expire automatically at the end of the period for which it is granted. In order to end it the landlord or tenant must serve a written notice to quit at least one year before the tenancy is due to end.

The combined effect of these provisions is that the landlord and tenant can both always look ahead at least one year and know that the tenancy will last for at least that time. The advantages to the tenant are obvious. The landlord benefits also in that he is given time to find a new and suitable tenant for his land.

Compensation for Improvements

Improvements fall under three heads:

1. Improvements requiring the consent of the landlord. These include any new, altered, or enlarged buildings, the construction of silos, the establishment of osier beds, the making of water-meadows and other irrigation works; the laying down of permanent pasture; the making of gardens; the making or improvement of roads or bridges; the making or improvement of water-courses, water receptacles, or works for applying water power or supplying water; the planting of hops, orchards, or fruit trees; the protection of young fruit trees; the reclaiming of wasteland, warping or weiring; the erection of embankments or sluices; the erection of wire work in hop gardens; the provision of sheep-dipping accommodation; the removal of bracken, gorse, etc., in arable land.

2. Improvements of which the landlord must receive notice, e.g. drainage operations.

3. Improvements regarding which notice to the landlord is not required. Such are the addition to the land of fertilisers, either directlyor through the agency of stock; the laying-down of temporarypasture, of which the seeds aresown more than two years beforethe tenancy determines; and theexecution of necessary repairs tobuildings.

The tenant must give the landlord notice of his intention to do the repairs and may carry them out only if the landlord fails to do so within a reasonable time.

Compensation for Disturbance

. When a tenant is compelled to leave his holding, even on proper notice, he may be entitled' to compensation for disturbance.

The amount of compensation is the loss or expense caused to the tenant in connexion with the sale or removal of his household goods, implements, fixtures, farm produce and stock; hut to avoid dispute the amount is computed at one year's rent unless the tenant proves that his loss and expenses exceed that amount. The maximum obtainable is two years' rent.

The tenant has no right to compensation for disturbance if (1) he is not properly cultivating the holding; (2) he is in arrears with, his rent or has failed to remedy a breach of a term of his tenancy consistent with good husbandry or has materially prejudiced the interests of his landlord by committing an irremediable breach of such a term; (3) he has become bankrupt or compounded with his creditors; (4) he has failed to agree to arbitration as to his future rent; (5) he has, without good reason, failed to comply with a demand of the landlord to execute an agreement setting out the existing terms of the tenancy.

A tenant who has himself given notice ending the tenancy may with some exceptions claim compensation for disturbance if the reason for his notice is that the landlord has failed to agree to submit the amount of the future rent to arbitration. A claim to have an arbitration as to rent cannot, however, be made oftener than every two years.

In certain other events the right to compensation for disturbance is also lost—e.g. if the landlord has offered to withdraw the notice to quit and the tenant has unreasonably refused to agree; or if the tenant has not given notice of his intention to claim compensation at least one month before the end of the tenancy; or if the tenant has died within three months before the notice to quit. The landlord must have had a reasonable opportunity of valuing the goods, implements, fixtures, produce and stock, to be sold.

Where the value of a holding has been increased by the continuous adoption of a standard of farming which has been more beneficial than the standard (if any) required by the contract of tenancy, the tenant is entitled to further compensation representing the value to the incoming tenant. Likewise the landlord may recover from the tenant compensation if the value of the holding has deteriorated through failure by the tenant to cultivate according to the rules of good husbandry as denned in the Act. The compensation will be estimated by a single arbitrator, to whose appointment both parties agree, or who, in default of such agreement, is nominated by the ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The Acts also contain provisions compensating a tenant for damage done to his crops by game, and others (1) entitling him, subject to certain conditions, to remove at the end of his tenancy fixtures, such as engines or fencing affixed to the holding by him; and (2) limiting the landlord's right of distress.

Some of the provisions of the Acts are slightly modified in their application to market gardens.

The Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act, 1923, consolidated certain earlier measures for the same purpose as in the case of England and Wales.

War-time Holdings

During the Second Great War it became necessary to plough much land which had not recently been used for agricultural purposes. The considerations which led to the passing of the Agricultural Holdings Acts did not arise in the case of temporary war-time tenancies of land of this kind, and accordingly such tenancies were for the most part excluded from the Acts by the Agriculture (Miscellaneous War Provisions) Acts, 1940 and 1943.

The urgent need for food made it necessary that land should be cultivated very intensively, and this often involved a wide departure from long-established agricultural practices. The ministry of Agriculture was therefore given the widest and most absolute powers, many of which were delegated to the war agricultural committee appointed by the ministry to replace the peacetime agricultural committees of the local councils.

The minister could give directions as to how land was to be cultivated, and if the directions were not obeyed he could compel the tenant to give up possession of the land. On a tenancy being terminated in this way the tenant was entitled to compensation for improvements but not to any compensation for disturbance.

When a landlord or tenant gave notice to terminate the tenancy the committee had to be informed.

When a tenant was directed to plough up permanent pasture, any liability under his tenancy agreement or any custom or rule of law to sow it again or pay increased rent or a penalty was extinguished.

Where, to comply with directions, he had removed bracken, gorse, etc., he was entitled to compensation for the improvement, even if the landlord had not consented as required by the Agricultural Holdings Acts.

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