Agricultural land and drainage disputes: apply to a tribunal

How to solve a dispute with a landlord or tenant about certain farming tenancies, or with a neighbour on ditches or drainage work.

Applies to England

What cases you can take to the tribunal

You can apply to the tribunal if you want to:

  • take over a tenancy when a close relative retires or dies
  • get consent for a notice to quit served on a tenant
  • ask a neighbour to clear ditches or carry out drainage work on their land

You can also apply for the tribunal to:

  • issue a certificate of bad husbandry if the tenant isn’t farming the land properly
  • order the landlord to provide or repair fixed equipment

The tribunal only deals with disputes around tenancies under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986. Find out more about different agricultural tenancies.

The tribunal

The tribunal, called the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) Agricultural Land and Drainage, is independent of the government.

It will listen to both parties before reaching a decision.

Time limits for applying

If you want to take over a tenancy, you must apply to the tribunal within either:

  • 1 month, starting on the day after the retirement notice is given
  • 3 months of the death of the previous tenant

If you’re a landlord and want to serve a notice to quit, the tenant can serve you with a written counter-notice within 1 month. You then have 2 months after that to apply to the tribunal for consent.

There are no time limits for the other types of case.

How to apply

Fill in the relevant form below:

You can find the full list of forms on the court and tribunal form finder.

Post the form and any documents (eg plans and maps of the land or the tenancy agreement) to:

First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber)
Agricultural Land and Drainage
1st Floor, Piccadilly Exchange
Piccadilly Plaza
M1 4AH

Telephone: 0161 237 9491
Fax: 01264 785 128

Help and advice

You may be able to get help or advice from:

What happens next

The tribunal will explain what happens next. You may need to send extra documents or information.

In drainage cases, an independent expert will produce a report, which the tribunal will send to you and your neighbour.

You can speak to the other side and try to reach an agreement at any stage. Most cases are solved before they get to a formal hearing.

Tribunal hearing

If you can’t solve the issue, the tribunal will carry out an inspection of the site and then hold a hearing in a local court or tribunal building.

The case will be heard by a judge with 2 other tribunal members (drawn from a panel of farmers, landowners or drainage engineers).

You can bring someone along to support you, but must let the tribunal know if you want to call an expert witness, like a surveyor.

Whoever made the application usually presents their case first.

Both sides will get the chance to ask questions. Tribunal members may also ask you questions during the hearing.

If you or your witness or representative is outside the UK and wants to give live video or audio evidence, contact the tribunal to request it. Tell the tribunal what country you, the witness or representative is in and what type of evidence is being given. You must do this as soon as possible.

The tribunal’s decision

The tribunal will normally write to you with its decision within 6 weeks of the hearing.

If you disagree with the decision, you may be able to appeal to a higher tribunal, called the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber).

To do this, fill in an application for permission to appeal form.

Send this to the Agricultural Land and Drainage Tribunal within 28 days of the date on the decision letter.

Find out more about appealing to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber).

Legislation and rules

You can find the rights to apply to the tribunal in:

For more detailed rules on how your appeal will be handled, read the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) Rules 2013.

Published 17 December 2014
Last updated 21 January 2015 + show all updates
  1. Change to address and fax details

  2. First published.