Many people wrongly assume that buying or selling agricultural property is much the same as any other conveyance. In reality, a property transaction involving farmland can be a complicated and taxing process with many elements to consider.
Philip Taylor, property law and agricultural specialist at Pearsons & Ward Solicitors in Malton outlines some of the pitfalls involved in purchasing or selling agricultural property and explains why you should engage us as your specialist conveyancer to guide you through the process.
The conveyance of agricultural land requires all the usual checks and searches that are needed for non-agricultural property, such as title investigations at the Land Registry, checks for existing easements (rights of way) and planning permissions, as well as local authority, environmental, and water and drainage searches.
In addition, agricultural land conveyancing often requires a whole host of extra investigations, such as:
- Wayleave agreements – are there written agreements between the landowner and utility or telecoms companies giving permission to install, maintain or repair the network equipment that is on the property?
- Public or private rights of way – are there any rights which would affect the use of the land? For example, having a footpath through a cornfield would not be ideal.
- Entitlements under the Basic Payment Scheme – will the buyer be entitled to these rural grants and payments that provide help to the farming industry? Is a transfer required?
- Fishing, shooting and hunting rights – do these come as part of the purchase or have they been sold separately?
- Agricultural ties – are there any of these local authority restrictions on how the land might be developed in the future? If so, can these be removed?
- Tenancies – are there any tenants on the land which have been granted security of tenure? If so, it may be necessary to go to court and pay the tenants compensation to get out.
- Environmental or stewardship schemes – are there any agreements in place which mean portions of the land have to be used in a certain way?
- Contamination – treating contaminated land can be expensive, so detailed searches may be required to ensure this is not an issue.
- Employees – if the land is for active farming are there any employees who need to be transferred over to the new owner? Do they have rights under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations?
- Plant and machinery – are there any contracts for plant and machinery that need to be transferred over?
- Title rights – farmland is often passed down over many generations and is sometimes shared between numerous family members through a limited company, a family trust or a partnership consisting of several parties. Whether you are buying or selling, ownership rights must be crystal clear before any sale can go through.
- Forestry and woodland – are any trees or areas subject to a Protection Order?
- Agricultural search – does the land need an agricultural search which provides valuable insight into a farmland’s history and potential productivity?
How we can help
Our specialist agricultural law solicitors at Pearsons & Ward have a wealth of experience in agricultural conveyancing and can help make your agricultural conveyance as seamless and stress-free as possible.
Whether you are buying or selling farmland, we will work closely with you from the outset to identify and alleviate any hidden issues that could potentially cause delays in the sale, offer advice on minimizing any tax implications and ensure that you get what you need out of the sale or purchase.
For further information contact Philip Taylor, in the Residential Property team at Pearsons & Ward Solicitors on Malton 01653 692247
or email .