Key points to consider as part of your business and farming family resilience.
When considering the issue of resilience specifically in connection with your agricultural business there are certain points where our team of specialist land law solicitors are frequently asked to provide help and advice in terms business resilience projects such as:
- Refinancing with your bank; and/or
- Restructuring your current arrangements on the advice from your accountants; and/or
- Where an opportunity has arisen, such as a development opportunity or the opportunity to become involved in a renewable project; a solar farm on your land, for example.
Very often time is of the essence with projects like this and the last thing you want to encounter is unnecessary delays or complications which, at best are going to slow things down and at worst, could derail your plans altogether
For this reason, it really is key to involve your professional advisors as early as you possibly can so that any potential pit falls can be identified and dealt with.
With this in mind we have summarised three of the main areas which can cause you problems but which can be avoided with a little bit of forward planning.
1. Title to your land
Is it registered with the Land Registry or is it still unregistered. If your land or part of it is not registered at the Land Registry then investing an amount of time checking that the title deeds are in good order is time well spent. As an extra step it would also be worth considering making an application for voluntary first registration now, rather than waiting.
The reason that this can be useful is because first registration applications can take some time. They are fairly technical applications to put together and occasionally the old plans within the deeds are insufficient or we may need to apply obtain historic OS plans to correctly identify particular areas.
Occasionally we have to arrange for detailed plans to be prepared by your land agent and all of this takes time
Where your land is registered with the Land Registry it is important to make sure to check that the details are up to date and that all of the land included for example:
- are the boundaries correct?
- has anything been missed off?
Perhaps you have being using an area of land for many years but for some reason that isn’t part of your registered land at the Land Registry.
If any such issues come to light then, more often than not we can resolve them for you but it can take time – time which you may not have when you are in the middle of an ongoing project.
2. Rights – do you have all of the necessary rights?
The second key area where you can encounter problems relates to the rights attached to your land
Are all of your legal rights correctly documented and are they recorded correctly at the Land Registry? Remember that this is important not only in respect of your land but also any other neighbouring land where you may have a right of access, for example.
It is also important to consider if your existing rights going to be sufficient to accommodate your future plans. As an example, you might have a right of way for agricultural purposes but that may need to altered if you are looking to diversify or redevelop.
Perhaps you have been using an access track for many years but this isn’t actually documented anywhere or a neighbouring owner could be claiming that they have a right over your land to run services or a right of way.
Again, these sorts of issues are not insurmountable but if we can get to them at an early stage then we can head off any problems further down the line.
3. Restrictions or obligations on your land
The third area where you can come unstuck relates restrictions and obligations which may be attached to your land.
Sometimes restrictions will have been imposed on the land over the years, for example not to use the land (or an area of land) for anything other than agricultural use or not to erect buildings in a particular area. There might even a restriction which prevents you from developing without written consent from a previous owner or some other third party
In certain circumstances we are able to remove restrictions of this nature either because they are limited to a particular period of time or we can negotiate their removal. Depending on the age of the restrictions there may also be some other solutions we can consider to minimised their impact
Ensure that you are aware of any potential pitfalls which may cause a delay with an upcoming project and pre-empt the problem. You can resolve them and you can ensure that your project runs as smoothly as possible, with a little bit of forward planning. The last thing you want is to encounter in the middle of new endeavour is something which is going to delay you and throw a spanner in the works
Key things you can do to minimise potential delays
- Involve your professional team at an early stage
- Talk to your accountants, your bank and your solicitors to make sure that they are all on the same page and they all understand what you are trying to do – communication between your professional team is vital and will save you a huge amount of time in the long run
We are here to help and spending a small amount of time reviewing your existing arrangements now really will pay dividends in the future
For further advice, contact Clair Douglas, Director and Head of the Agricultural Team at Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors on 01653 600070.