Final Call for Amnesty Agreements
The Tenant Farming Commissioner is encouraging tenant farmers and landlords to sign an amnesty agreement ahead of the 12 December deadline, even if some disputed improvements may have to be part of a separate amnesty notice.
The experience of the Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, has shown that, in cases where landlords and tenants have assembled the available documentation and have met on-site to see and discuss the claimed improvements – as suggested by his Code of Practice on Amnesty of Tenant’s Improvements – it has been possible to agree all or most of the claims quickly, with only a small number requiring further discussion or evidence.
Some discussions, however, have been dragging on for months, with all the spadework having been done but no agreement signed. Bob McIntosh commented:
“It is absolutely essential now that every effort is made to reach agreement. Site meetings are the best way to resolve any outstanding issues, and with careful planning, Covid restrictions will still allow these to take place. Where there is poor – or no – documentation to help determine whether the improvement is eligible to be considered for compensation at waygo, pragmatic compromises are preferable to a prolonged dispute which ends up in the Land Court. Especially in cases where the improvement is likely to have low value at waygo.
“Most tenants have, quite sensibly, used the amnesty period to record all of their potentially eligible improvements, and not just those which require the amnesty provisions to enable them to be accepted, so the list of claimed improvements is quite long in many cases. If agreement has not been reached, itemising all of these in an Amnesty Notice and providing an explanation of why each improvement should be accepted will be quite onerous.
“I would therefore encourage all landlords and tenants to ensure that they have a signed agreement covering all the improvements where there is no dispute, leaving only those where there is disagreement to be the subject of a formal amnesty notice.
“Once an amnesty notice has been issued to a landlord by a tenant, the landlord has two months to respond. I hope that this time will be used productively to resolve any outstanding issues and that alternative methods of dispute resolution will be considered, such as expert determination, so that the dispute does not have to be settled by the Land Court.”