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The Amnesty has gone – don't get left behind again!

3rd October 2023

The Amnesty for retrospectively registering tenant's improvements ended over 18 months ago. This was a one-off opportunity and the exercise proved to be an excellent opportunity in getting all parties to understand exactly who owns what parts of the farm. 

It was notable, when going through the exercise multiple times, there were enormous gaps in some parties’ knowledge as to who had undertaken what.  The realisation and understanding of the holding was quite a revelation in a number of cases.  Not only this, a properly recorded amnesty document is now proving invaluable for discussions on Relinquishment or purchase of the farms but is also invaluable for the purpose of rent assessment.

What is quite surprising is the number of tenants that did not undertake the opportunity of the Amnesty process in the first place, that however is water under the bridge as that horse really has well and truly bolted!

Whilst that opportunity has gone, what is now further surprising is the number of tenants who are failing to go through the formal process of notification of recent or new tenant’s improvements. Unless an improvement is properly notified, then it will almost definitely fail to be formally recognised as an improvement. In the immediate circumstances this could have implications for rental purposes but down the line may prove very costly if considering Relinquishment or purchase. 

The process is relatively simple but needs to be done properly. A formal Notice needs to be served upon the landlord three months in advance of the works commencing, although the landlord only has a short time period to object, from the date of serving of the Notice. The Notice itself should contain sufficient information, such as a clear description of the proposal, a specification, a plan of where it is to go and a reasoning for the improvement itself. There is no need to have full costs. The notice then needs to be served on the right person, i.e. the landlord, at the correct address. It would be advisable to take advice on this procedure if nothing else other than secure knowledge.

The improvements that are eligible are clearly set out in the Act, however in practical terms, what we have seen on the ground, is that the proposed improvement needs to be reasonable for the sensible and efficient management of the holding.  If the improvement complies with the Act, then realistically there are limited grounds on which the landlord can object.

If we go back to the beginning, it is noted there was a reason as to why the process of the Amnesty was brought forward. It was to help rectify the failures of the past and bring some clarity to a number of tricky situations. Accordingly, it is vital not to let history repeat itself, failure to go through this simple process may result in a valuable asset being lost down the line and it may also cost you in rent in the short term. The Amnesty has gone, and I doubt whether you will see a return.

Tom Oates
07785 926 306