Court supports a landowner’s right of entry onto tenanted land
There was good news for landowners seeking planning permission for development in the recent Court of Appeal of Rees v Earl of Plymouth.
An Agricultural Holdings Act tenant tried to block the landowner from getting planning permission by preventing access to the land for the purposes of a planning survey.
The Act allows landlords to serve a Notice to Quit if planning permission has been given for an non-agricultural use. By refusing entry onto the land and preventing a planning survey a tenant can thwart the landlord’s planning ambitions.
The terms of the tenancy agreement will set out the landowner’s rights of entry. The right of entry is usually reserved for reasonable purposes.
The courts have previously interpreted those right narrowly. But the Court of Appeal has made it clear that rights of entry should be interpreted sensibly, and in the context of the land to which they apply.
This particular case concerned a farm close to Cardiff where the landlord had obtained outline planning permission for housing on the land. The environmental conditions required landscape, wildlife and habitat surveys on the farm. The tenant refused access, but the court said it was reasonable for the landowner to have right of entry onto land for this purpose.
As with many legal questions, such disputes will need to be decided on their own particular facts on the basis of what is reasonable. However, it is a significant decision in support of a landowner’s right of entry onto tenanted land.
Landlords who wish to develop their land should take legal advice from specialist rural and agricultural solicitors at an early stage.
Similarly, any tenant who is faced with losing their tenancy due to development should take expert legal advice at the outset.