Leasing paddocks for grazing horses can create unintentional legal relationships. It is important for landowners to understand the circumstances surrounding such leases because, if grazing becomes ‘incidental’ to the use of the land, the tenant could acquire security of tenure rights by default. (Security of tenure matters arise under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.)
This can catch landowners unaware, especially since grazing is an agricultural activity. However, horses are not considered to be livestock unless they are kept for farm work or for the sale of their meat. So horses and ponies kept in a typical riding school for recreational purposes fall outside the scope of the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995.
You can determine whether or not you are in a position of potentially granting security of tenure rights by answering the following questions:
Is possession exclusive?
The first thing to consider is whether you are granting exclusive possession. If for example your horses are going to remain on the land then you are not granting exclusive possession. A licence is created rather than a tenancy. If your land is occupied solely by another person’s horses, then this will be considered a tenancy and security of tenure for the occupier becomes a possibility.
What is the land use?
How the land is used can affect the type of tenancy created. Below are examples of the different tenancies that arise depending on the use of the land being leased:
- If the land occupied is bare land being grazed on a private basis (and is not connected with any business) then a common law tenancy will arise, and so no security of tenure rights will be conferred.
- If the land is bare land and being grazed by horses in connection with a business, then the tenancy will be a farm business tenancy, and so no security of tenure rights will be conferred.
- If the land is let for grazing horses but that grazing is incidental to the main use of the land, such as a riding school, then the tenant could have the right to security of tenure. There is a solution, however – before such a tenancy is completed, the ‘contracting out’ of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 procedure should be completed.
Disclaimer: While we do all that is possible in terms of ensuring its accuracy, this blog contains general information only. Nothing in these pages constitutes legal advice. You need to consult a suitably qualified lawyer from the firm on any specific legal problem or matter.