Farm house with fields being worked by a combine harvester© Rex

Responsibility for repairs and maintenance on farm tenancies could become clearer if new government proposals go through.

Proposed changes to the Agricultural Holdings Act (AHA) aim to remove ambiguity about fixed equipment liability for AHA tenancies.

See also: Mud on the road: A farmer’s responsibility explained

The proposals include new model clauses for equipment such as renewables technology, that are currently not included, and changes to existing model clauses to bring them up to date.

Removing these ambiguities could reduce confusion between landlords and tenants over liability and maintain good relations, said Sholto Moger, partner at Strutt & Parker.

However, there is uncertainty at this stage whether the new clauses would supersede old clauses for existing tenancy agreements, if the legislation went through, said Mr Moger.

This would depend on two things, he said. Whether a tenancy agreement specifically restricted liabilities to existing legislation, and the wording of any new legislation which came in.

The proposed new model clauses are:

  1. Reed beds – landlord to repair and replace, tenant to keep clear and in good working order
  2. Slurry, silage and effluent systems – landlord to repair and replace, tenant to keep clean and in good working order
  3. Fixed equipment generating electricity/heat/power such as solar panels, heat pumps and wind turbines – landlord to replace, tenant to repair
  4. Fuel, oil tanks, gas pipework and fixed liquid petroleum and gas tanks – landlord to replace, tenant to repair
  5. Fire, carbon monoxide, smoke and similar detection systems – landlord to repair and replace on the basis they must fulfil their obligations under the fire insurance. Given the health and safety aspect of this liability, provision will be made for the tenant to repair and replace, with the ability to recover reasonable costs
  6. Radon pumps – landlord to replace, tenant to repair
  7. Insulation including roof, wall and pipes – landlord to replace, tenant to repair
  8. Livestock handling systems and sheep dips – landlord to replace, tenant to repair
  9. Flood banks – landlord to repair and replace
  10. Tile and pipe for field drainage system – landlord to repair and replace, tenant to keep field drains and their outlets clear from obstruction
  11. Signs and notices – tenant to repair and replace.

The changes being proposed are in response to a consultation on the need to modernise legislation about repair and maintenance on AHA tenancies.

More detail on the proposals can be found here.