An Agricultural Tie, also known as an Agricultural Occupancy Condition, is a planning condition/restriction attached to a property in the open countryside by the Local Planning Authority when planning permission is granted for the building or change of use of that property. It is usually found when purchasing or selling properties where development is not normally permitted. It is important to be aware of the implications of purchasing or selling a property with such a condition imposed.
The conditions, which are still granted today, come in a variety of forms, most commonly restricting the occupancy of such property to those employed in Agriculture or Forestry. Occupancy can also include widows, widowers or dependents of a person employed in those professions, depending on the wording of the condition.
What would this mean for a Seller/Purchaser?
This type of condition can affect the marketability of a property, with a seller often finding that the value of their property is 20 to 30% lower than a similar property without a condition attached. This may appear attractive to purchasers, but it could be difficult for a seller to find a purchaser that meets the occupancy conditions.
If a purchaser was to purchase a property with a tie attached who did not satisfy the conditions of the tie, therefore, was in breach of the planning condition, the Local Planning Authority would have means to enforce the condition attached to the property, including issuing fines and/or enforcement notices against the occupiers.
Mortgaging a Property with a Tie attached
Few lenders are willing to provide a mortgage to a property with this condition attached due to the difficulty of any future sale, as well as the impact that the condition has on the value. Therefore a purchaser will likely need to contact speciality lenders for agricultural properties and demonstrate that they can satisfy the terms of the condition.
Removal of an Agricultural Tie
It is possible to lift an Agricultural Tie, albeit the occupier would need to show beyond doubt that the property is no longer required to accommodate those in the Agricultural/Forestry profession. This would involve marketing the property for a period of at least six months (depending on the agreement with the Local Planning Authority) at a price reflecting the Agricultural Tie condition to demonstrate that purchasers looking to buy the property would not satisfy the terms of the condition and, therefore, it would no longer be required.
Alternatively, if an occupier has had consistent and uninterrupted occupation of the property for a period of ten years, they could apply for a Certificate of Lawful Use and Development. This would not remove the occupancy condition altogether; however, it would certify the current use of the property as lawful. However, it is important to note that if someone who meets the occupancy condition then purchases the property or otherwise comes into occupation, the condition will come back into force.
The occupier could also apply to vary the conditions of the planning permission, with Local Planning Authorities having been known to remove conditions if a certificate has been granted in the past.
Agricultural and Rural Business Solicitors
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