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Dream home in the countryside . . . or is it?

View profile for Emma Hipkiss
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Looking at buying a property in the countryside?   What if your dream property comes with an agricultural occupancy condition?  

Agricultural Ties or Agricultural Occupancy Conditions are planning conditions imposed on properties given consent to be built in the open countryside where planning permission might not normally have been granted, other than for the need of agricultural or forestry workers.

These conditions usually state that only a person working in agriculture or forestry, their widower or dependent may live in the property.  If you purchase a property with an Agricultural Tie as your new home and you don’t fit the criteria, you would be living there in breach of the planning permission. This could result in a fine or, worst case, being unable to continue to live in the property.

How do you know if there are restrictions?

  • If you are looking at buying a property in the countryside, carefully check the estate agents’ particulars, which should disclose this, but may not always.
  • If the property appears to be marketed at a lower price than comparable property in the local area, there may be a good reason for this!  The existence of an Agricultural Tie may result in a substantial decrease in the market value of the property.
  • The Agricultural Tie should be revealed on the Local Land Charges register when your Lawyer carries out the Local search. However, although planning authorities have an obligation to record on the register of planning charges all matters binding future purchasers, they are not required to record planning consents/conditions imposed before the Local Land Charges Act came into force. Therefore, for properties that were granted planning permission prior to 1975, there is a risk that Agricultural Ties will not be recorded.

If there is any suspicion that the property could be affected, further investigation may be required which should include writing to the planning department of the Local Authority. An email from your Lawyer to the planning department of the local authority should suffice.  If the planners come back to advise that there is an Agricultural Tie, which you were otherwise unaware of, this could save you a lot of headaches and money.

It may possible to apply to have an Agricultural Tie removed or amended - if no-one who has lived in the property for the last 10 years has worked in agriculture or forestry, a Certificate of Lawfulness could be applied for from the Local Authority - a Planning Consultant can help with this.

For more information and advice, please call our new enquiries team on 0800 118 1500 or email Emma Hipkiss in our residential development team.