Leas­ing pit­falls

Sporting Shooter - - Ask The Experts -

QI own 60 acres of ru­ral land in Cum­bria and am con­sid­er­ing leas­ing part of it to a game shoot­ing syn­di­cate. The farm has re­cently been passed to me through an in­her­i­tance so I wanted to know what I should be putting in place to en­sure the lease is tight and un­der­stood by both sides? I don’t keep any an­i­mals on the land, nor are there any rental prop­er­ties within the bound­ary.

ANICK PLAYFORD, as­so­ciate at MFG So­lic­i­tors, an­swers: The first con­sid­er­a­tion is that of in­her­i­tance. Without know­ing any spe­cific de­tails, it is pos­si­ble that the for­mer landowner had sought and im­ple­mented spe­cific tax ad­vice. The im­por­tance of agri­cul­tural prop­erty re­lief and busi­ness prop­erty re­lief is de­pen­dent on the cir­cum­stances, but you would not wish to jeop­ar­dise the ef­fec­tive­ness of pos­si­ble tax re­liefs. Let­ting to a pri­vate, non­com­mer­cial shoot, even if such a shoot is es­tab­lished via a syn­di­cate, might not be seen to be suf­fi­ciently agri­cul­tural to safe­guard the re­liefs. So it is al­ways im­por­tant to seek spe­cific tax ad­vice from your ac­coun­tant.

Con­sid­er­a­tion should also be given to whether a lease is ac­tu­ally ap­pro­pri­ate. If other agri­cul­tural and wood­land ac­tiv­i­ties are be­ing pur­sued by the landowner, as is of­ten the case, it might be more per­ti­nent to draft up a shoot­ing li­cence to re­flect the fact that exclusive pos­ses­sion will not ac­tu­ally be granted.

Whether a lease or li­cence is ap­pro­pri­ate, it is im­por­tant to con­tract with the ap­pro­pri­ate par­ties who will be man­ag­ing the shoot or syn­di­cate. The lease should cover the BASC Code of Good Prac­tice; the num­ber of days to be shot per year (es­pe­cially if this may con­flict with other ac­tiv­i­ties on the farm); the num­ber of birds to be shot; ver­min con­trol and the pre­cise ar­eas on the farm which can be shot, ide­ally with ref­er­ence to plans and clear mark­ing, in­clud­ing ve­hi­cle tracks or a lunch lodge. It should also clearly set out both par­ties’ on­go­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

Other im­por­tant clauses are re­served rights for the landowner such as car­ry­ing out usual op­er­a­tions on the land such as the lay­ing or rerout­ing of any ser­vice me­dia, roads, tracks, paths and fences. There should also be ro­bust clauses safe­guard­ing the landowner’s li­a­bil­ity.

Fi­nally, if you do en­ter into a lease, it is prob­a­ble that you will need con­sent from the bank. The landowner will, most likely, wish to com­ply with the ex­clu­sion of the 1954 Land­lord and Ten­ant Act pro­vi­sions.

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