What Does Your Tenancy Say About Maintenance?
In these times of ever increasing prices, the last thing you want to do is spend money unnecessarily, but where on the ladder of 'unnecessary expenditure' do you put tenancy advice?
If, for a moment, we take a hypothetical landlord and tenant relationship, and at the commencement of the tenancy they have both agreed what is to be let under a Farm Business Tenancy, you have considered the acreage, the facilities in terms of buildings, the farmhouse (if it has one), and any other attributes such as utility services (standard of electricity supply, water supply, which if you are lucky, is free) and both parties are happy, you as tenant are therefore happy to sign.
You have also given some thought to what schemes are currently available, the timing of those schemes and how they will fit with your entry date to far them. The parties have even given a smidgeon of thought to termination of the proposed tenancy in 5 years time, but not in detail. The fact is the tenancy may roll on from our to year, or with a good relationship, a longer term may be provided. All good news so far.
Then, the tenancy agreement arrives, and what do our hypothetical parties do? It will usually be the landlord who supplies this document, a thirty something page booklet of what can and cannot be done. Does the tenant read this, or better still, does he instruct a professional who after all is well versed in reading such documentation..?
No, what often happens is that with the best of intentions, the potential tenant starts reading, the document is so boringly long he or she gives up, and they sign it. They may ask the landlord if there is anything in there they should be worried about, which will usually engender a response of 'no' but then to be fair, the landlord is not really aware of what is within the document either.
So, both parties have signed. Time passes swiftly, as it does, and its soon year 4. Someone points out that there was a 'put and keep' clause as regards repairs and maintenance of the property. What does this mean? Do you know the legal definition of this phrase under this legislation? It means the tenant must first put the property into good repair and then keep it that way. The question is, did the tenant look at all of the property before signing the tenancy? Did they walk every field boundary (fence or wall), did they check all the buildings? What works were required in the farmhouse? The list goes on.
So, it is now evident that a 5 year tenancy of a property in good condition is a good deal for the tenant, but one which is in poor condition requires time and expenditure to put it into the desired condition. This means viewing the property in detail before signing, and then offering rent that will accommodate the expenditure required.
Make no mistake, it is not without experience I raise this issue. The number of arbitrations and expert determinations we undertake based on this exact subject are increasing but with awareness, and that professional advice properly taken, that need not be the case.