barn conversion© Global Warming Images/Rex/Shutterstock

Farm tenants who have been unreasonably affected by works to their property could be entitled to damages.

This follows a ruling from May this year where an occupant successfully sued their landlord for not taking adequate steps when undertaking essential maintenance work on the claimant’s rental property.

The case Timothy Taylor Ltd v Mayfair House Corporation and Another; CHD 10 May 2016 will be crucial for tenants, said chief executive of the Tenant Farmers Association, George Dunn.

See also: Residential tenancy: New rules for rural landlords and tenants

“We deal with a lot of tenants whose right to quiet enjoyment has been disturbed by landlords exercising their right to reclaim land for non-agricultural use.

“There is now an absolute line in the sand. Before, tenants had to put up with this kind of disruption. This ruling is really crucial.”

Legal action may be sought if a landlord’s works on a property have infringed the running and operating of a home or farm, described in leases as a covenant for quiet enjoyment.

The most common instances of landlords failing to take care to mitigate any disturbance to tenants include livestock disturbance leading to miscarriages, or gates with access to land being left open when such works are being undertaken.

Landlords are also liable if fields converted for field sports result in birds eating tenant’s crops.

Legally, landlords should ensure that disruptions during essential works are kept to a minimum, and if they are unavoidable tenants could be entitled to a reduction in rent.

Tenants who feel they have been subject to unreasonable disruption can serve their landlord a claim for damages or could be owed compensation.