A recent case, has shown the importance of complying with common law, as well as the specifics of agricultural law when serving notices. Stodday Land Ltd v Pye  EWHC 2454 (Ch) concerned a notice to quit on agricultural land, the freehold of which had recently changed hands.
T held the land under an oral tenancy and had been in occupation since 1950. The tenancy was therefore a AHA 1986 tenancy. The freehold owner, S sold a small plot to R. The sale completed but before R became the registered owner at the Land Registry, R served a Case B notice on T, in respect of the land R had purchased, on the basis that possession was required for other uses. On the same date, S served a Case D notice in respect of the other land in the tenancy, on the basis of rent arrears.
Whilst R may have been the valid landlord under the AHA 1986, being entitled to receive the rents, under common law, only the legal owner can serve notices to quit. The legal owner is whoever is registered at the Land Registry, and so even though the sale and purchase had completed, the seller remains the legal owner until the transfer is registered at the Land Registry and the buyer becomes registered. The court held that the notice served by R was not valid as R was not the legal owner. The notice served by S therefore also failed as it was not in respect of the entire holding which was legally owned by S. R and S appealed but the Court of Appeal upheld the decision.
The case is a reminder that the legal complexities of the AHA 1986 cannot be viewed in isolation and is a reminder generally of the importance of registering transactions as soon as possible after completion.
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