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.
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, 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:
- succession on death of tenant
- succession on retirement of tenant
- notice to quit
- bad husbandry
- any other application
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
Telephone: 0161 237 9491
Fax: 01264 785 128
Help and advice
You may be able to get help or advice from:
- a managing agent
- the Tenant Farmers’ Association
- a solicitor
- a member of the Agricultural Law Association
- professional organisations like the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers
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.
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.
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:
The Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 (sections 11, 26, 27, 39, 41, 44, 53, 67 and 80)
Land Drainage Act 1991 (sections 28 and 30)
Hill Farming Act 1946 (section 21)
Agricultural Act 1947 (section 89)
The Agricultural Holdings (Arbitration on Notices Order 1987) (article 13)
For more detailed rules on how your appeal will be handled, read the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) Rules 2013.