Problems with my shooting lease
PUBLISHED: 17:56 14 February 2019
You had a lease drawn up and signed by the landowner for the shoot you run, but now they want to cancel it! Where do you stand? Solicitor Nick Playford replies
I run a farm shoot and took the trouble to have a lease drawn up and signed. The farmer kept the lease but wants to cancel it. Where do I stand and what should I do next?
NICK PLAYFORD of mfg Solicitors replies: If the lease is for a seven-year term or longer it should be registered at the Land Registry and available to download from the website.
You should also check to see if the lease has been contracted out of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. If the lease hasn’t been contracted out then it will probably constitute a business activity, regardless of the amount of rent received or if the shoot is run profitably. This will offer you, the tenant, greater protection and it is legally much harder for the landlord to end your tenancy.
The next thing to do is to review the lease and its provisions. Common provisions which are favourable to the tenant are to allow the tenant quiet enjoyment of the land, free from interruption. The lease also provides for the avoidance of unnecessary harm or disturbance of game or its habitat.
There will probably be special notice provisions stating that the notice terminating the lease should be in writing (which often excludes email). The lease often provides a mandatory notice period but, even here, the effectiveness of the notice will be reliant solely on a specific reason such as future land development or a tenant’s breach of covenant within the lease. A unilateral termination of the lease without proper justification would constitute a breach of contract.
Having digested this, a tenant may be entitled to compensation. This would be assessed on the basis of a contractual breach and, in such an event, it would be wise to seek the expertise from a surveyor, well versed in this field, to assess the value of any claim. A specialist solicitor should be able to assist by advising further on the merits of taking up such a claim. It would be wise to adopt a realistic, pragmatic and holistic approach in pursuing any claim.