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Eviction after your 1991 Act lease ends

Your landlord can only end a 1991 Act tenancy by following the correct procedures. They must start by sending you a valid notice to quit. This doesn't necessarily mean you'll have to leave: your rights to stay on will depend on why your landlord wants to evict you.

If you inherited your tenancy from a former tenant when they died, you may have fewer rights.

What is a notice to quit?

If your landlord wants you to leave the holding, they must first send you a notice to quit. This is a written document stating when and why they want you out.

Your landlord has to issue the notice to quit no less than one year and no more than two years before the date they want you to leave. Your landlord can't alter this notice period, for example by including a clause in your lease that shortens or lengthens it. If they try to do this, the clause won't be legally binding.

How do I know if the notice to quit is valid?

The first thing you should do if your landlord sends you a notice to quit is check whether it is valid. A notice will only be valid if your landlord sends it to you within a certain time frame.

Getting a notice to quit at the end of your lease

If your landlord wants you to leave on the date that is written in your lease, they must give you a notice to quit no less than one year and no more than two years before that date. If they fail to do so, the notice to quit will be invalid and your lease will continue by tacit relocation until a correct notice is served. (See 'what happens when the lease runs out' on the page on 1991 Act tenancies to find out more about tacit relocation.)

Getting a notice to quit after your lease has ended

If the date on your lease has passed and your tenancy is repeating itself by tacit relocation, your landlord will need to give you a notice to quit no less than one year and no more than two years before the date they want you to leave.

Does my landlord need a reason to evict me?

Even if your landlord gives you a valid notice to quit, you may not have to go. This is because your landlord has to have a special reason (or 'ground') to evict you, which must be clearly stated in the notice to quit. These are known as Section 22 grounds.

What are Section 22 grounds?

If the notice to quit lists any of the following grounds and they apply to you, your landlord will have the right to end the tenancy:

  • The lease is for permanent pasture or grassland which you have rented for a set period of time, on the understanding that you will use it to grow crops during that time then sow grass again at the end of the lease.
  • Your landlord wants to use the land for something other than agriculture for which planning permission is required, and the permission has been granted.
  • During the last nine months, the Land Court has granted your landlord a certificate saying that you haven't been farming the land properly.
  • You have rent arrears or have broken a term of your lease. Your landlord must give you two months' notice to repay the arrears or put right whatever you've been doing wrong. If you have been withholding rent because your landlord hasn't been fulfilling their responsibilities, this won't count as rent arrears.
  • You have broken a term of your lease and the damage this has caused can't be put right in a reasonable amount of time and at an economic cost.
  • You have become bankrupt.
  • You inherited the tenancy from another tenant. However, this ground doesn't apply if you inherited the tenancy from a parent or your husband or wife, only if you inherited from a more distant relative such as a brother or sister, or aunt or uncle.

What if these grounds don't apply to me?

If one or more of these grounds are stated on the notice to quit but you don't think they apply to you (for example, if you have been legitimately withholding rent but your landlord claims you owe rent arrears), you can send your landlord a counter notice explaining the situation. You must do this within one month of receiving the notice to quit. The matter will then be referred to the Land Court. Your landlord cannot evict you until the Land Court has made a decision.

Get advice from a solicitor who specialises in agricultural law if you're in this position - they will be able to help you make your case.

What if these grounds aren't stated on the notice to quit?

If none of these grounds are included in the notice to quit, it will be invalid and you should be able to stay on in the tenancy. However, this isn't an automatic right. You will need to send your landlord a counter notice, explaining that you have the right to stay. Again, it's a good idea to talk to a solicitor before you do this.

If your landlord still wants to evict you, they will have to apply to the Land Court and specify a ground to evict you. These grounds, known as Section 24 grounds, are different from the grounds listed above. It's up to your landlord to prove to the court that these grounds exist.

What are Section 24 grounds?

  • The reasons why your landlord wants to end your tenancy are in the interests of good farming practice.
  • The reasons why your landlord wants to end your tenancy are in the interests of the good management of the estate of which your holding forms a part.
  • Your landlord wants to use the land for agricultural research, experiment or education.
  • Greater hardship would be caused by not evicting you than by evicting you.
  • Your landlord wants to use the holding for something other than agriculture for which planning permission is required but hasn't yet been granted.

Even if these grounds apply, the Land Court can still decide that you shouldn't be evicted if it isn't fair or reasonable or wouldn't be in the public interest to do so.

If you have inherited the tenancy from a parent, husband or wife, further grounds will apply - the page on eviction from inherited tenancies explains this in more detail.

What if the Land Court says I have to leave?

If the Land Court rules in your landlord's favour, you will have to leave. However, if the Land Court makes its decision less than six months before the eviction date on the notice to quit, you can ask the court to postpone the eviction for up to a year.

What if my landlord only wants part of the holding back?

In this case, they must serve you with a valid notice to quit (see above) for the part they want back.

What if I don't want to farm a smaller holding?

If you don't want to stay on the reduced holding, you can serve your landlord with a counter notice extending the notice to quit to cover the whole holding. You must do this within 28 days of receiving the notice to quit. This means that when you leave, you can get compensation for the agricultural tenancy for the whole farm, provided that:

  • the land the landlord wants back makes up more than a quarter of the value or area of the holding as a whole, or
  • the rest of the holding cannot reasonably be farmed on its own.

If this isn't the case, you'll only get compensation for the part the landlord originally wanted to evict you from.

What if I don't want to leave?

If you don't want to farm the reduced holding but are not prepared to give up the tenancy, you can apply to the Land Court to remain a tenant of the whole holding. It will then be up to the court to decide whether or not your landlord can take part of the holding back.

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The important points

  • If your landlord wants to evict you they must send you a notice to quit at least a year before they want you to leave, and no more than two years before.
  • As part of your notice to quit, your landlord must give you a valid reason to leave, and these reasons are called Section 22 grounds.
  • If you disagree with the reason (ground) given in your notice to quit, you must send a counter notice within a month of receiving the original notice to quit.
  • Your landlord can also use reasons (grounds) called Section 22 grounds to evict you. Your landlord must prove to the Land Court that these grounds exist.

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